How to establish an employment discrimination case

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2020 | Employment Law

The most common type of employment discrimination occurs when an employee experiences intentional discrimination at work. For example, you may see preferential treatment of some other coworker and your membership in a different protected class is the reason why the treatment is different. 

If you decide to bring an employment discrimination lawsuit, you will need to establish four elements to prove disparate treatment using circumstantial evidence. 

1. You belong to a protected class.

You need to demonstrate that you belong to a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the basis of your case as your employer cannot discriminate against you on the basis of your age, religion, race, disability, sex or national origin. 

2. Your employer knew of the protected class.

The employer needs to have awareness of your belonging to a protected class under Title VII. Sometimes, knowledge of your religion or national origin is not readily obvious to your employer. 

3. You suffered an adverse employment action.

The next step is to prove that you were subject to some discriminatory, harmful employment action. Acts can include supervisor reprimand, suspended from your position, fired or denied a promotion or bonus. 

4. You have some other evidence of discrimination.

You may have other evidence of discrimination if a coworker in nearly identical situation to you experienced more favorable treatment or did not suffer the same negative employment action. 

If you can show that your case meets these four elements, then the employer needs to show a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for why the events happened. After that, you will have the opportunity to show that this reason offered by the employer is just a pretext for the employment discrimination you allege. 

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