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How to prove workplace discrimination

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Sep 17, 2018 |

As an employee, you have the right to be free of discrimination in the workplace. Regardless of your race, gender, age or ethnicity, you deserve the same treatment as all other workers.

Is that standard not getting met in your career? Maybe you keep getting passed over for promotions that you know you deserve. Maybe you have not gotten a raise in too many years, even though others have. Maybe you face consistent discrimination when supervisors make derogatory comments about you, or when other employees make jokes at your expense.

Maybe you have even been fired. Your career came to an end because of that discrimination. Now you want to know what to do.

A challenging situation

The first thing you should know is that this type of case can become fairly challenging. Just believing you faced discrimination is not always enough. The company may lie and say that there were other reasons for their conduct.

For instance, you may feel you did not get a promotion because you are a woman, watching it instead go to a man with less experience. It may feel clear to you that you were discriminated against. But, what if the company says the man simply did better in the interview and really “clicked” with management? Ultimately, it’s your word against theirs.

To keep this from happening, you need to do what you can to help prove that the discrimination occurred.

Keep written records

When something happens in the workplace, write it down. Record as many details as you can. Keep a journal with updates every time you face discrimination. If you end up in court saying you faced harassment, your argument is much stronger when you can communicate when and where it happened, who was involved, and who said what. Details matter.

Keep video or audio records

Similarly, you may track events with video or audio files. Maybe the harassment came in the form of a text message. Take a screenshot and save that picture. Maybe a voicemail said that “someone like you” couldn’t get a promotion to management. Keep the voicemail and save the audio file somewhere other than your phone. Back up all digital files in multiple locations.

Gather official documentation

If you are claiming that you never received a raise or didn’t make enough money based on discrimination, do not make that claim without paperwork to back it up. Get pay stubs. Copy your tax returns. Get a copy of the contract you signed with the company. Again, details are important. Provide hard numbers and specifics about what you get paid and how it compares to others in the same field.

Starting your case

Employment laws give you plenty of rights in the modern workplace. When the company violates these rights, make sure you know what legal options you have.