Concerns about discrimination in your workplace can be challenging to deal with, especially if the conduct involves a boss or a coworker. You might wonder whether certain statements or actions even legally are considered discriminatory. It's a good idea to understand what discrimination is from a legal perspective. Here are three things a discrimination attorney would tell you about the topic.
Discriminatory conduct tends to come in one of two packages. First, there are remarks that create a hostile workplace, such as statements about people of particular racial, ethnic, or gender identities. Second, there may be actions that are designed to undermine people based on such predispositions.
The ideal scenario is to catch someone on record overtly saying discriminatory things. Unfortunately, many folks in the modern world have gotten good as masking the signal of discrimination. To the extent such statements are usually caught, it involves things like statements on social media or through texts. Overheard conversations can be hard to stand up as evidence in court unless there are many witnesses to multiple incidents.
Frequently, the work of a discrimination attorney involves digging into patterns. For example, a company might have a long history of not promoting anyone but cisgender men to supervisory jobs. Showing such a pattern may involve assembling details from performance reviews and tests to demonstrate how qualified candidates are overlooked.
Notably, this sort of case also tends to involve a lot of discovery requests. These are requests presented to the court demanding that the other side hand over evidence. For example, a discrimination attorney might request copies of memos and emails from the folks in charge of promotions.
Failure to produce such documents often leads to what's known as an adverse inference. This is a court-imposed penalty where the maximally bad assumption about what wasn't produced has to be considered the truth. Sometimes, cases that hit this point are settled because the defense crumbles.
Proving Exhaustion of Potential Remedies
It's important to also prove that you've exhausted all possible remedies. For example, you should address your concerns with your immediate supervisor within days of an incident. This will give the company a fair opportunity to investigate the matter.
If you don't see any developments within a few weeks, then you can start pursuing a claim, with a firm such as the Law Offices of Jeffrey Needle. This can be done through the EEOC, a state agency, or a local one. Depending on which venue you choose, you'll usually have between 180 and 300 days after an incident to file a complaint.