How Do You Prove Discrimination in the Workplace

You can prove discrimination in the workplace in different ways with the help of a seasoned trial attorney. Employment discrimination law is complex. There are multiple laws that may protect you against workplace discrimination. However there are subtle distinctions between these laws that a worker may not be able to readily see. Lawyers with experience taking these cases to trial possess deep knowledge of what types of evidence and arguments are likely to be persuasive to both jurors and judges. At Phillips and Associates, our seasoned New York City employment discrimination lawyers look carefully at our clients’ conflict with their employers in order to figure out what proof is needed.

If retained, we will investigate the facts of your case to determine the strongest strategy to fight for your rights, whether informally and in conversation with your employer and its defense team, or in the courtroom when compliance with rules of evidence and procedure must be perfectly followed. We also conduct discovery and strategize about how best to present clients’ claims.

Proving Discrimination in the Workplace in New York City

As an employee, you may have a gut feeling your employer is biased against you. Employment is at-will in New York, which means your employer can terminate you simply because he doesn’t like you. However, this does not license your employer to take adverse employment actions against you based on aspects of your identity or personal history that are protected.

It can be difficult to show that discrimination occurred in the workplace because many employers have been trained to be aware of the potential for employment discrimination litigation. They may not come right out and say they are terminating or not promoting you because of your protected trait. Rather they may use coded language or the discrimination made be apparent through signs such as disparate pay or harassment.

We may be able to prove discrimination against you by gathering direct evidence or circumstantial evidence to use in negotiations and at trial. Even before filing suit, we can seek facts that would support your allegations and determine which of these allegations has the strongest evidence in support.

After a complaint is filed, we will engage in a process called “discovery.” This is a blanket term for a number of different requests for information to build your case. Methods for discovery include:

  • Depositions
  • Document requests
  • Interrogatories
  • Subpoenas.

Your employer will also seek discovery, including documentation, that supports its defenses and might defeat your lawsuit. This is why it is critical to hire an experienced employment discrimination litigator as early as you can in the process.

Direct Evidence

Direct evidence of discrimination in New York City may consist of managers’ or supervisors’ comments about the adverse action taken against you that link their actions to your protected traits.

Direct documentary evidence could include:

  • Statements in emails
  • Notes
  • Performance reviews
  • Memos.

For example if you are Black and your banking employer emails you and says you don't look like the kind of person that clients will respond favorably to because of your natural hair and “urban” appearance, and that it is going to keep you low-level as a result, this may be direct evidence that you are facing race discrimination with regard to a promotion or job assignment.

Similarly, there may be direct evidence of discriminatory intent in a supervisor's note in your personnel file. For example, if your coworkers made fun of you because you are Mormon and your supervisor has made a note of this incident in a performance review and concludes you don't fit within the company culture as a Mormon, and as a result you are terminated, you may have direct evidence to prove religious discrimination.

Circumstantial Evidence

It is hard to obtain direct evidence of employment discrimination. In many cases, we will need to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove discrimination or obtain a presumption of discrimination in court. Circumstantial evidence can include anything other than direct statements from an employer that permit an assumption or inference of discrimination.

To establish your entitlement to damages, there must be enough circumstantial evidence of discrimination to allow a jury to find discrimination. You may have faced discrimination even if you weren't replaced by a worker outside of your protected class.

From an initial consultation through a potential verdict, we will look at your case to determine whether certain probative factors are present. For instance, we will look at whether you were treated differently than somebody who had the same experience and education who didn’t have your protected characteristics.

When the circumstances of how you were treated are shocking and severe, they may suggest discriminatory intent even if your employer didn’t admit to it. For example, if your manager called you the N-word to comment on your productivity, you may have circumstantial evidence of discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law.

We will look at offhand comments by supervisors and managers that are derogatory. For example, it may be circumstantial evidence of discrimination against you if you are a woman denied a promotion and your manager remarks that women do not make good leaders.

We will look at whether your employer has a history of prejudiced comments and actions against people in your protected class. There may be signs of discrimination when there are visibly few employees of a protected class in the workplace. Sometimes other workers are aware of situations in which other employees of the same protected class were singled out for adverse treatment or discipline, while those of other identities were not called out for the same conduct.

Retain Trial Lawyers to Prove Discrimination in the Workplace

If you are concerned about providing discrimination in the workplace, you should call the seasoned New York City employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates. We represent workers who have been discriminated against in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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