Workplace discrimination can take a range of forms, from refusal to hire someone due to their race to refusal to offer someone a promotion due to their religion. If you believe you have been the victim of illegal workplace discrimination, you could potentially seek justice by filing a discrimination claim against a current or former employer.
Be aware, knowing what constitutes workplace discrimination isn’t the same as knowing how to prove discrimination at work. Proving employment discrimination often involves gathering substantial evidence to support your allegations.
The following overview describes how to prove employment discrimination through documentation. Additionally, it explains how coordinating with an expert can help you more effectively establish that discrimination has occurred.
Understanding Discrimination Claims
Before you ask “How do I prove discrimination at work?,” you should have some familiarity with what qualifies as workplace discrimination. Generally, discrimination involves treating certain employees and job candidates differently than others based on protected characteristics. Examples of such characteristics include (but are not limited to) gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and age.
(Employment discrimination laws vary from one state to another. An expert who knows how to prove discrimination in your state can help you better understand how your state’s laws might affect your claim.)
An employee who has experienced illegal workplace discrimination may file a claim to seek financial compensation, reinstatement to a job, and other such forms of compensation and damages. However, the burden of proving employment discrimination has occurred is on the employee filing the claim.
Types of Evidence in Discrimination Claims
What are the two ways to prove discrimination in the workplace? Proving employment discrimination may involve gathering the following two types of evidence:
- Direct evidence: This form of evidence is transparent documentation that an employer has engaged in discrimination. For instance, an email containing discriminatory language may serve as a form of direct evidence.
- Circumstantial evidence: Circumstantial (or “indirect”) evidence can supplement direct evidence. An example of circumstantial evidence would be personnel files indicating an employer has a history of not promoting or hiring members of a certain protected class.
Direct evidence is generally stronger than circumstantial evidence. That said, both can play a role in proving employment discrimination has occurred.
Gathering Evidence: Key Strategies and Considerations
How do you prove discrimination through evidence? Strategies to consider include:
- Keeping personal records: When filing a claim, it’s helpful when you can cite repeated incidents in which you felt discrimination took place. Every time you experience discrimination, write an entry with the relevant details (such as date, setting, description, who was involved, etc.) in a journal. You should also hold onto any emails or other such communications that might offer evidence of discrimination
- Collecting witness statements: Witness statements can strengthen a discrimination claim. A witness is anyone who has directly observed or become aware of discrimination taking place. When interviewing witnesses, it’s very important to keep detailed records.
- Requesting relevant documents: Personnel files, employee review documents, and various other forms of documentation may be relevant to a discrimination claim. Refer to your employee handbook or contact HR for information regarding how to officially request these documents.
Proving Discrimination: Lessons from Expert Perspectives
The information here on how to prove employment discrimination is fairly general. For recommendations that are specific to your circumstances, strongly consider reviewing your case with an employment attorney. Their insights can help you better understand your legal options.
It may also be wise to coordinate with government agencies. Often, the process of filing a discrimination claim begins with contacting the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Various state agencies may also provide assistance.
How to Prove Discrimination at Work: The Importance of Gathering Evidence
Filing a claim can certainly help you ensure justice is served if you’ve been the victim of workplace discrimination. You must simply remember the burden of proof is on you. The more comprehensive evidence you can gather, the better your chances of winning your case.
You should also keep in mind that this isn’t a task you need to handle on your own. By enlisting an employment law attorney’s help, you’ll have assistance from a professional who knows how to build a strong case. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation to get connected with an independent employment law attorney who may be able to help with your case.