How to Prove Workplace Discrimination

In the United States, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, national origin, age, veteran status, disability, or religion. When a person believes that they have been discriminated against, they can file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and may be entitled to sue their employer for legal remedies. In order to prevail in court, however, an employee must be able to provide proof of discrimination.

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence

The best way to prove an employer acted in a discriminatory manner is through direct evidence. Direct evidence includes statements made by supervisors or managers that blatantly displays the employer’s action against your protected characteristic. Memos, letters, emails, or written notes that detail a discriminatory act can be very difficult to come by, as a company’s management will likely know better than to directly convey their prejudices in a traceable fashion.

In most cases, victims of discrimination are required to rely on circumstantial clues to build their case. The McDonnell-Douglas Test is widely used to establish a “prima facie case,” or a presumption that discrimination occurred. This test involves four short questions that must be truthfully answered.

To establish presumed discrimination, you must be able to answer “yes” to these four questions:

  1. Are you a member of a protected class?
  2. Were you qualified for the job?
  3. Was adverse action taken against you?
  4. Was your replacement not a member of your protected class?

If you are able to answer yes to these four questions, several more questions must then be asked to determine the level of circumstantial evidence in your favor.

You may have a case if you can answer “yes” to several of the following questions:

  1. Did you receive different treatment than another person in your position who is not of your protected class?
  2. Do your superiors routinely make rude comments regarding a protected class?
  3. Were your circumstances unusual or severe enough to indicate discrimination?
  4. Does your employer have a history of discrimination?
  5. Are there noticeably fewer employees of your protected class at your work?
  6. Does it appear that members of your protected class are intentionally chosen for dead-end jobs or other forms of unfair treatment?
  7. Have any other employees in your protected class complained of discrimination?
  8. Is there statistical evidence to show bias towards or against a certain protected class in your place of work?
  9. Did your employer knowingly contradict company policy in regards to your treatment?
  10. Were less qualified, non-protected employees hired for the same position?

Facing Discrimination? Call (404) 781-1100

If you believe your employer has treated you unfairly for any of the above reasons, an Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer from Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP can represent your interests in court and help you seek legal remedies. Having received an AV® Rating by Martindale-Hubbell® for our outstanding ethics and skills, we are fully equipped to provide the hard-hitting advocacy you need to maximize your chances of success. To find out more about what our 85+ years of experience can do for you, request an initial case evaluation today!