If you’re being discriminated against at work, and you want to stand up for your legal rights in court, you’re going to have to prove your case. Similar to when someone gets accused of criminal behavior when the burden of proof is on the prosecution, the burden of proof in your discrimination lawsuit will be on you as the accuser. Therefore, it’s important to start gathering evidence.
Sometimes the evidence you require to prove your case will not be available to you now, and you’ll have to wait until you can demand the evidence from the defendant during your court case. Either way, the evidence you use to prove discrimination occurred will fall into two categories:
Direct evidence: Direct or “hard” evidence is the most important evidence you can use to prove your case. This evidence may include statements made to you by supervisors or managers relating to negative actions taken against you.
Perhaps your supervisor tells you that you’re being fired because the company wants younger workers. Maybe the supervisor tells you that you’re too “ghetto” for the job or says that (insert racial slur here) are not welcome to work at the company. It’s even better if you have written evidence or eyewitnesses who can corroborate your claims.
Circumstantial evidence: Most discriminatory employers try to hide their tracks, so it may be hard to come up with direct evidence. In this case, you’ll have to use circumstantial evidence. If you can answer “yes” to the following four points, then you may be able to establish sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove your case:
- Are you in a class of workers protected from discrimination?
- Do you qualify for your position?
- Did you suffer from an adverse action at work?
- Did someone from a non-protected class replace you?
Proving a discrimination case isn’t always easy, but if you take a strategic mindset and apply an in-depth understanding of discrimination law, you will increase your chances of success.