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How to Prove Discrimination in the Workplace

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Jun 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

Proving discrimination in the workplace is sometimes difficult based upon the type of supporting evidence in the case. One type of evidence is called direct evidence. This is where you have written witness statements, emails, text messages, or other such documentation to establish your claim of discrimination. Proving discrimination is much easier with direct evidence, but it is not always easy to obtain.

The other type of evidence is called circumstantial evidence. There are specific key questions that you must be able to answer “yes” to in order to establish circumstantial evidence. Four of the most common questions asked are:

  • Was adverse action taken against you by your employer?
  • Are you part of a protected class (i.e., age, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.)?
  • Did your employee replace you with someone else not in the same protected class, or, in cases of age discrimination, someone younger?
  • Were you qualified for the job position?

In addition to these questions, there are other specific ones used to test and establish circumstantial evidence.

In situations where there is only circumstantial evidence, there are several things you can do to help build a solid case against your employer. The first step you need to take is to keep a record of the date, time, names, and other such details whenever discriminating behaviors occurs. Having these details is vital to establishing you have a claim and could potentially result in being able to obtain direct evidence later when your claim is investigated.

The next step is to schedule a consultation appointment with unlawful termination lawyers to discuss your concerns, get answers to your questions, and obtain legal advice. While speaking to a lawyer is helpful, you cannot file a lawsuit against the employer until after filing a claim of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Once the EEOC receives your complaint, they will investigate the charges, which could take up to a year or even longer. After the EEOC has performed their investigation, they will make a ruling on the claim with specific actions.

In cases where the EEOC substantiates that discrimination took place, they might attempt to resolve the matter through mediation, or decide to file a lawsuit against the employer. Otherwise, if the EEOC cannot establish discrimination occurred, your claim is dismissed and a letter issued, allowing you to pursue the matter in civil court with an employment lawyer in Atlanta or in your local area.

Some key points to keep in mind are:

  • In Georgia, you have 180 days from the last occurrence of discrimination to file a claim with the EEOC.
  • In over 95% of claims, the EEOC does not find that discrimination occurs.
  • After receiving the right to sue letter from the EEOC, a lawsuit must be initiated within 90 days.

Often even after the EEOC rules there was no discrimination, many people still have other legal rights that extend beyond what the EEOC covers. It is in your best interests to consult with an Atlanta employment discrimination attorney at the law firm of Barrett & Farahany, LLP before deciding not to take further action. Call our law office today at (404) 238-7299 to schedule a free consultation appointment.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.


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