How To Establish Employment Discrimination

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, you may be wondering what you have to prove to establish a case. The first thing to be aware of is that employment discrimination applies to all types of employment actions. Not only do discrimination laws apply to the hiring and termination of employees, but it also applies to job assignments, compensation, promotions, and job benefits.

The Supreme Court has stated that the following four elements must be proved to establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination:

  1. Protected Class — You must be a member of a protected class which consists of race, sex, national origin, religion, and age.
  2. Qualified — You must establish that you are qualified for the position in question.
  3. Adverse Employment Action — You must establish that you were either denied a job, terminated from a job, failed to receive a promotion, or were denied certain benefits because you are a member of a protected class. Please visit our article examining the standard used for determining adverse employment actions.
  4. Inference of Discrimination — There must be circumstances that indicate that the adverse employment action was taken because of your status as a member of the protected class.

A prima facie case means “it appears on its face.” It does not mean that you will automatically be successful. Once a prima facie case is established by the plaintiff, the burden will shift to the employer to establish that the adverse employment action was not based on the plaintiff’s membership to a protected class.

For example, if an employee is being discriminated against because of their race and establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to state that that adverse employment action was not based on the employee’s race, but was based on a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason.

For example, the employee lacked the necessary qualifications or did not perform the job satisfactorily. Once the employer can establish a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, the burden will then shift back to the employee to establish that the employer’s given reason was not the real reason for the employment action taken.  This would be established by the facts and circumstances which shows that the real reason was discriminatory.

If you believe you have been discriminated against in the work place, please contact me.

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