Employment Discrimination Case
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How to Prove an Employment Discrimination Claim
There are several requirements for proving that you have been unlawfully discriminated against. These will differ depending on the kind of discrimination you experienced, but generally consist of:
- Protected Class - You must prove you are a member of a protected class, or that you possess protected characteristics.
- Application - Generally, you must actually apply for a job, promotion or benefit to bring an employment discrimination claim. However, actual application may not be necessary if an employer has a reputation for or openly refuses to employ members of certain groups.
- Qualifications - You must be able to show the claimed discriminatory action was not the result of an absolute lack of qualifications for the job. Some courts will require that you were the best qualified candidate, but others will only require that you have the minimum qualifications listed in the job description.
- Discriminatory Intent or Effect - You must be able to show the employer intentionally discriminated against you or has employment practices, policies or requirements that have a discriminatory effect.
- Intentional Discrimination - Discrimination may occur if your employer treats you differently than other employees that do the same work. To prove your being treated differently is discriminatory, you must show the employer's intent or motive was to discriminate on the basis of a protected characteristic, even if the employer was wrong about your actual race, religion, age, etc.
- Discriminatory Effect - Certain employment practices, policies and requirements that appear impartial may be discriminatory if they tend to exclude members of certain groups more than others and are not justified by legitimate business interests. There can be a discriminatory effect even if the employer didn't intend to discriminate. Discriminatory effect cannot be used to pursue claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADA).
- Issuing Complaints and Filing Charges - For certain kinds of employment discrimination cases to be successful, you must follow your employer¿s anti-discrimination policy and issue a complaint. Filing charges within appropriate EEOC and/or FEPA deadlines is extremely important to the success of every employment discrimination case.
Federal Age Discrimination Laws and Agencies
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. Generally, you must file a claim with the EEOC to sue in federal court. The filing deadline is usually 180 days after the discriminatory act, but is 300 days if you must first file a claim with a state agency. Since EEOC resources are often limited, it often issues "right to sue" letters that allows you to hire a private lawyer and pursue your claims in federal court.
State Age Discrimination Laws and Agencies
Most states have their own employment discrimination laws and enforcement agencies whose filing deadlines vary. The EEOC refers to such agencies as Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPA's).
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
Employment discrimination claims are complicated because procedural laws vary depending on where and when you file your claim. An employment lawyer can help you determine if you have an employment discrimination case, and also help you with EEOC and FEPA filing deadlines. Also, because agencies will not get to your claim immediately, a lawyer can help you investigate and pursue alternative remedies. It is also a good idea to see a lawyer before signing a waiver or other severance package. If you are being sued for employment discrimination, you should speak to a lawyer immediately.
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Last Modified: 01-24-2017 08:45 PM PST
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