Although the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the experience of other employees might be admissible as evidence in an individual workplace discrimination case, relevancy is a key factor. Employees in California trying to prove unfair treatment at work might gain admission of evidence about other employees if those people held similar positions, belonged to the same protected class or worked under the same supervisors or managers.
Although experiences of other employees might be viewed as indirect or circumstantial evidence, discrimination cases typically lack direct evidence such as a manager stating that someone did not gain a promotion because she was a woman. A U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit decision validated the notion that discrimination by its nature included a comparison of management’s treatment of multiple employees. For example, promoting a white candidate with less experience than a dozen qualified African American candidates illustrates possible discrimination.
Time could also play a role in showing the relevancy of the experiences of other workers. A court might examine whether or not multiple people experienced the same type of treatment at about the same time as a plaintiff. Similarity in job duties could matter as well. People do not need to hold identical positions to have their treatment compared. They might still be comparable if they had the same supervisor and performed similar tasks.
A person seeking a legal remedy to workplace discrimination could discuss with an attorney the possibility of including co-workers’ experiences as evidence. To gather evidence for a lawsuit, an attorney might request payroll records, employee evaluations and correspondence with management. Direct interviews with co-workers might take place to gain statements about how they were treated. An attorney will strive to use this information within court filings to show a pattern of unfair treatment on the basis of race, gender, age or religion.