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How Do You Document Unfair Treatment at Work?

You can document unfair treatment at work by keeping an accurate, honest record of what happened to you. It is wise to save any voicemail messages that seem to reveal discrimination. You should also retain and print out emails, social media messages or posts, and texts that show your employer is taking discriminatory steps against you or that you are being harassed. You should keep a contemporaneous diary describing discriminatory actions or harassment you face as these events unfold. All of these materials may be used to build a strong employment discrimination case. At Phillips and Associates, our seasoned New York employment discrimination attorney can analyze your documentation to determine all appropriate grounds for relief and the strength of your case.

Documenting Workplace Discrimination in New York City

There are strict time limits to pursuing damages in an employment lawsuit. You should seek counsel as soon as you experience an employment action that you believe is discriminatory or harassing. During a consultation, our employment lawyers may suggest you gather documentation about what's happening to you in the workplace, unless you've already been terminated.

Federal, state, and local laws protect different traits and require proof of different elements to establish claims. When you retain Phillips and Associates, our lawyers can share with you our knowledge of what would be relevant to winning your case and what your rights are, assuming that the discrimination or harassment is ongoing. This can affect the degree of detail and care you take with your documentation.

Many workers are reluctant to confront their employers or complain about discrimination. You may be uncertain about whether you really have a case. It is normal to feel anxious about retaliation, even though retaliation is prohibited under the law. You may want to hold off on seeking legal representation and simply take notes about what's happening to you until you figure out whether you’re really being harassed or discriminated against. However, after you've documented treatment in the workplace you think is unfair, it is important to give us a call.

Types of Documentation that May Assist Your Attorney

Many different kinds of documentation may help us build a strong case on your behalf. Keeping a contemporaneous diary of discriminatory or harassing conduct you face on the job can be especially helpful. It may be used as evidence, and it can also help refresh your recollection further along in litigation, after the memory of what happened to you dims. In the diary, you should date your entry and provide a full description of what happened that you believe goes towards a discrimination claim:

  • If your manager touched your breasts at a holiday party, you should write down what happened just before, during, and afterward to the extent that you remember. Ideally, you should create this documentation on the same day that it happens. This evidence may be used to build your case for sexual harassment under the New York State Human Rights Law, New York City Human Rights Law, or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • If you are a Black employee and your supervisor uses the N-word while going over your performance review, you should create a diary entry describing what happened in the performance review, including this slur. Often, discriminatory conduct is not an isolated event. You may notice other behavior by your employer that are milder, but that you believe tend to show anti-Black attitudes or other discriminatory intent.
Emails as Evidence that Documents Unfair Treatment at Work

You should not delete emails that relate to the discriminatory conduct you face. These are crucial when documenting unfair treatment at work. You should print them out so that you have an extra hard copy that you can bring us. These emails can be used to establish:

  • What happened
  • There was discriminatory intent
  • Harassment occurred
  • You notified your employer of discriminatory treatment
  • Timeline for the unfair events.

Suppose, for instance, your coworker sends you lesbian pornography after you come out in the workplace. You should keep this email as evidence of harassment. You should also report this to your employer in order to give the employer an opportunity to correct the wrongdoing. However, employers do not always do the right thing, so you should also forward the email to a personal account and printed out so that you have a record of what happened to you that could be used to build a lawsuit in relation to sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination.

You should save all messages from a manager, customer, client, supervisor, or manager that bears on discrimination or harassment. This can include texts, posts, or private direct messages on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or LinkedIn.


As you document discriminatory or harassing conduct, you should be aware that what you document may be subject to discovery in the course of employment litigation. Under New York CPLR section 3101 (a), parties are supposed to provide full disclosure of all material that's necessary to prosecute or defend a lawsuit, irrespective of the burden of proof. That means your employer can compel you to disclose any documentation that bears on your lawsuit against it, so long as that documentation would help with trial preparation.

The exceptions are attorney work product and privileged materials. Even documentation that's prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial can be discovered by the opposing party if it can show it has a substantial need for what it's requesting and that it couldn't get equivalent information in another way without undue hardship.

When our lawyers pursue damages on your behalf under the New York State Human Rights Law or the New York City Human Rights Law, your employer may ask us for documents related to your claim, along with any that might establish their defenses. If we are representing you, we will also be able to assert any privileges that apply to the documents you create or that your employer requests. We will also have an opportunity to request all relevant documentation from your employer in order to build your case and assess whether your employer has defenses and how to defeat them.

Federal law also allows for discovery of documentation in cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and other federal antidiscrimination statutes.

Retain Seasoned Litigators to Review Documentation of Unfair Treatment

You should talk to the experienced New York City employment discrimination attorneys of Phillips & Associates about what happened to you if you’re wondering how to document unfair treatment at work. We represent workers discriminated against in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, or Nassau County. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form.

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"Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens." Angel
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"Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues." Karen
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