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The implication of "after-acquired" evidence

California workers who are thinking about filing a discrimination lawsuit against an employer may want to know more about the “after-acquired evidence” defense. As the name implies, after-acquired evidence is information that an employer discovers about an employee after a termination. Companies may claim that this information would have led to an employee’s termination had it been discovered prior to a worker being let go.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that such evidence could be used to limit damages or other relief sought in a workplace discrimination suit. For instance, a company may only be required to provide back pay from the date of the wrongful termination to the day that a worker would have been fired for improper conduct. Without this evidence, it may be possible to seek back pay from the time of termination until a new job was found.

In some cases, this evidence may be enough to score a full victory for the employer. This may be true if it rebuts the merits of the discrimination case brought by a former employee. At a minimum, workers should expect that their employers will examine their work records carefully once they find out about such a lawsuit. This may mean scrutinizing past performance or talking to colleagues to learn more about possible misdeeds.

Those who feel that they were terminated in violation of employment law may wish to speak with an attorney. Doing so may make it easier to gather evidence that may help to establish a claim of harassment or discrimination. It may also make it easier to create defenses to claims an employer may make that the termination was because of poor performance or other legal reasons.