Employment discrimination isn’t easy to prove in court, as evidence can be difficult to come by. Additionally, it’s hard to prove someone’s true intentions. Fortunately, it’s not impossible to prove, and you can support your case if you know what to look for. Let’s review what evidence is needed in court to prove workplace discrimination in order to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Direct evidence is very difficult to come by when proving workplace discrimination. It directly links a person to a crime, so in this case, it could be a document, email, or recording of a person stating who they discriminated against and why. Direct evidence essentially leaves no room for interpretation or doubt. For example, if you came across an email that reads, “I fired this person because I don’t want old people working for my company,” that would be direct evidence proving that age discrimination in the workplace occurred. It is highly unlikely that someone will admit to this willingly, so this evidence is rare.
Circumstantial evidence proves a fact by inference, while direct evidence proves something with facts. For example, if you wanted to prove it was nighttime using direct evidence, you could simply look outside and point out the night sky. If you wanted to prove the same thing using circumstantial evidence, you would turn off the artificial lights and point to how dark it is in the room, even with windows. The four types of circumstantial evidence are human behavior, direct witnesses, scientific evidence, and physical evidence.
Courts use the McDonnell Douglas framework to analyze circumstantial evidence in discrimination cases. The employee must first prove they are a member of a protected class and qualified for their position. Then, they need to show they suffered adverse employment action and were replaced with a different worker who is not a member of the same protected class—if the employee was fired.
If the employee can prove these things, then the burden of proof shifts to the employer, who must prove the adverse action was for a legitimate reason. If the employer can prove this, the burden of proof shifts back to the employee, who must prove their “legitimate reason” qualifies as a pretext for discrimination. Pretext for discrimination means their reasoning was a cover-up for the truth.
Pattern or practice means the employee must prove the employer, or the business, engages in unfair practices and policies. These policies do not always have to be followed but cannot be an isolated incident. For example, an employer may have a policy against wearing “protective or natural hairstyles,” which would only affect Black people. In pattern or practice, you must gather evidence that other people of the same or different protected classes were affected by these unfair policies, at least sporadically.
Now that you know what evidence is necessary to prove workplace discrimination, don’t let all that weight fall on your shoulders. Let the Law Firm of Tamara N Holder help. We’ll put you in touch with one of our experienced and dedicated workplace discrimination lawyers who will fight hard for you.