Establishing an Employment Discrimination Case

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What is Needed to Make a Case for Employment Discrimination?

Most employment discrimination cases fall into one of two categories:

In either case, the employee must demonstrate that the motive behind the employer's actions was an illegal or discriminatory one.

How Can an Employee Prove the Employer's Motive?

Occasionally there is direct evidence of discrimination such as a specific company policy or a direct statement by the employer. This is very rare, however, so typically the employee must rely on circumstantial evidence.

The employee must first establish a preliminary case by showing:

A similar framework is also used for cases involving discharge, suspension, and demotion.

Once the employee has established her case, the employer has a chance to show that the action was based on a legitimate reason. If the employer presents a valid reason, the employee will then have the opportunity to prove that the reason given by the employer is just a pretext. The employee usually has to show that there is some factual dispute, such as that the reason was manufactured or that the employer changed their reason. It will then be up to the finder of fact (either a jury or a judge) to determine which side to believe.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Employment discrimination cases can be very complex and difficult to prove. An experienced employment attorney can advise you of your rights and develop a strategy for pursuing a claim both in court and as part of a settlement. 

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Last Modified: 09-26-2013 10:43 AM PDT

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