Does Your Employer Discriminate Against You? Build Your Case with These 3 Documents
If you believe that your employer discriminates against you, you may, at some point, decide to take your employer to court. Whether you actually follow through or not, it can make sense to begin putting documentation together to help establish your case. This article looks at the different kinds of documents that you should begin looking for.
It isn’t unusual for employees to find themselves dealing with discrimination at the workplace. More often than not, however, they find it hard to understand how to gather the evidence needed to establish that they were discriminated against by their employer.
If you believe that you are a victim of employment discrimination, it’s important to begin collecting evidence as early as possible. It can also help to speak with an employment lawyer in your city long before you believe you’ll be ready to actually sue. You’ll need to understand how the process works, and the ways in which you’ll need to be ready.
The documents mentioned below tend to be available to employees. When you collect these documents to support your case, however, it’s important to make sure that they don’t contain trade secrets, client lists, and other protected information. An employment lawyer should be able to help you determine what kinds of information make certain documents inadmissible.
Your performance evaluations
Most employers create annual performance evaluations for their employees to rate how well they do at their jobs. Appraisals of this kind, when they are positive, can offer employees valuable evidence to present in court that their employers have no reason for complaint. If your employer passes you over for a promotion, denies you a bonus, or fires you, they will often claim that you weren’t good at your job. However, if you are in possession of these positive performance evaluations, you are able to counter these accusations, and show the court that poor performance couldn’t possibly have been a reason for the treatment you received. This could help you prove that your employer had a different agenda in trying to mete out unacceptable treatment to you.
All correspondence with your employer
Everyday item of correspondence with your boss — emails, texts, and so on — that reflects positively on your performance can be a powerful way to prove in your lawsuit that the unfair treatment you received at work couldn’t possibly have been the result of poor performance. If you have messages from your boss that demonstrate how pleased they were with your work, it could make it very hard for them to prove in court that their treatment of you was attributable to anything other than discrimination.
Gather information about the company’s discrimination track record
Looking around you to see how your company treats employees of similar backgrounds could help you strengthen your case. If your company doesn’t treat you fairly as a woman, or as a person of color, it could help to pay attention to how others like you have done with your employer. If you’re a woman, for example, and find that while half the people promoted to vice presidencies are women, only 5 percent of those women make it to the senior vice presidency, it could be considered evidence of possible discrimination.
Past employment discrimination lawsuits against your employer, could, as well, strengthen the action that you wish to bring. The courts will consider whether the authorities who were responsible for discrimination at the company in the past were also involved in your case, before deciding on whether cases from the past are likely to be admissible. You could find information about earlier discrimination lawsuits against your employer simply by searching on Google, or by going through a public resource like the Public Access to Court Electronic Records site (pacer.uscourts.gov/).
Finally, it could also help to look through the arbitration agreement that you signed when you first entered employment with the company. You may not have paid much attention to the requirements presented in the document when you were just enthusiastic about getting on board with the company, but you could have signed the document that required you to submit to private arbitration in the event of a discrimination complaint. Private arbitrations, that are held behind closed doors, can occasionally be favorable to employees, but they tend to not award generous compensation in these cases, when compared to public court hearings.
Your employment lawyers, when they work on your case, should put together other documentation and evidence to build your case. When you start out and begin to consider your legal options, however, it would make sense to begin collecting all the documents mentioned above, whether physical or electronic, to get a head start.