You likely worked hard to obtain your position, and you continue to do your best every day to not simply keep the job but earn raises and promotions. But your employer may not recognize your dedication, skills, or talents. Instead, they may be blinded by bias or prejudice, treating you unfairly and rewarding other employees for mediocre work.
Discriminatory employment practices have been illegal since the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and a variety of categories have been added to the original protected classes. However, discrimination and harassment are still serious challenges employees face throughout the United States. If you are one of those employees, you have the right to hold your employer accountable, but you will need to back up your claim using a variety of sources.
These 5 resources will help you prove discrimination in your work environment:
- Your personnel file. This is a record of your history at your workplace. It includes information such as performance evaluations, compensation, records of disciplinary actions, and other confidential files. Employers, supervisors, and HR representatives typically have access to your personnel file. In most states, you can see it at any time as well.
- Company policies. These might be collected in an employee handbook, or they may be posted in common employee areas such as breakrooms or locker rooms. Discrimination and harassment policies should be readily accessible to all employees.
- Written log of incidents. The more detail each entry includes, the more useful it will be in court. Include exact information regarding the time, date, location, description of the incident, and names of witnesses. Collecting witness contact information along the way will save you (and your attorney) time later when you are putting your case together.
- Evidence. This is the strongest way to prove discrimination. Even if you are unsure if something will help your case, or the evidence is upsetting to you, keeping every relevant item will help you hold your employer accountable.Some examples of evidence include:
- Copies/records of verbal or digital communications containing discriminatory language or harassment
- Documentation outlining discriminatory reasoning regarding denial of accommodations, raises, or opportunities based on your class
- Pay records if you lost wages when you should have been granted paid leave of absence
- Inappropriate photos in a case of sexual harassment
- Records of treatment/diagnoses if the discrimination or harassment resulted in a mental or physical health condition
- Legal support. A qualified attorney will help you decide what you will need for your case and will even be able to collect information on your behalf. Protecting your rights and pursuing compensation will be easier with the support of an experienced legal professional.
Can You Still Prove Discrimination Without Direct Evidence?
Direct evidence includes statements by your employer or manager directly related to the discriminatory act. It is the easiest way to hold them accountable and attain justice through the lawsuit. But some cases of discrimination (while still completely valid) may not involve direct evidence. The evidence might have existed at one point but has since been lost, deleted, or destroyed, or the incidents were never recorded to begin with. Furthermore, discrimination has been illegal for decades, so prejudiced employers are usually careful not to openly express their beliefs.
Circumstantial evidence, however, allows you to incriminate your employer without direct evidence. You will need to demonstrate more subtle signs of discrimination, in addition to answering yes to many of the following questions:
- Are you in a protected class?
- Were you qualified for your position?
- Did your employer take adverse action against you?
- Were you treated differently than or replaced/surpassed by a person of a different class who is less qualified than you?
- Does your employer have a history of similar accusations or incidents?
- Does your workplace have a significantly low percentage of employees in your protected class?
- Are those employees also facing similar incidents?
- Has your employer violated company policy in the process of treating you this way?
Guidance and Representation from an Experienced Law Firm
You have faced harassment or discrimination in your work environment, and now you are ready to act. We would like to stand beside you in the fight for your rights. At Hoosier Law Firm, PLLC, our lawyers have years of experience protecting employees throughout West Virginia.Get in touch with our skilled legal team at (800) 455-8721 or schedule your consultation online. We look forward to taking on your case today.