The phrase “prima facie” is a Latin expression that literally translates to “at first face” or “at first appearance.” In terms of its present day translation, it is the equivalent of saying, “on the face of it.”

As for legal purposes, it refers to the manner in which a claim can be proven in a court of law. For instance, a “prima facie case” means that there is enough evidence available to support a party’s argument and to rule in their favor, so long as the opposing party cannot provide evidence that disproves their claim.

What is a “Prima Facie Case” for a Discrimination Claim?

An example of where the “prima facie case” for a discrimination claim is often used is in an employment discrimination case. The plaintiff will establish their prima facie case by showing that there is sufficient evidence to prove that their employer discriminated against them. At this point, unless their employer is able to present evidence that contradicts this claim, the employee-victim will likely prevail on the matter.

More specifically, in order to establish a prima facie case for a claim involving employment discrimination, the court will generally require proof of the following facts:

  • That the plaintiff was a member of a “protected group” of people (e.g., gender, race, etc.);
  • The plaintiff was in fact qualified for every aspect of the job they were seeking;
  • The plaintiff was rejected for the position despite possessing the necessary qualifications; and
  • After they were rejected, the employer continued to search for job applicants who had the exact same qualifications and/or skills as the plaintiff.

Are There Different Types of Prima Facie Discrimination?

There are a number of ways in which a claim for discrimination can arise. The reason for this is because it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a current worker or future employee on the basis of their age, sex, race, national origin, and certain other characteristics.

Thus, a prima facie case for a discrimination claim can be based on any of the above categories, with the only difference being that each one may require slightly different elements of proof depending on the category.

For example, when an employee is attempting to establish the prime facie case for an age discrimination claim, the employee will typically need to provide proof that they are above a certain age (usually around 40 or 50 years old). They would also need to prove that despite the fact that they meet the job’s required qualifications, a younger worker was hired in their place.

Alternatively, in the prima facie case for a race discrimination claim, the plaintiff will most likely need to show that they are a member of a particular race who possesses the necessary skills, but an employee with the same skills who was of a different race was hired for the position instead.

As is evident from the examples discussed above, the elements of proof required to establish the prima facie case for each category of employment discrimination are generally the same with only slightly altered modifications (e.g., showing age versus race).

In addition, there should also be some kind of proof that the employer was motivated by the desire to discriminate against that type of plaintiff. Simply proving that the plaintiff was a member of a specific class will not be enough to prove that they have a prima facie case of discrimination.

What are Some Remedies for a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination?

There are several kinds of remedies available for a prima facie case of discrimination. For instance, an employee who has been discriminated against may be able to recover damages for any losses suffered. The damages might include back pay for lost wages, reinstatement to a previous job title, and recovery of employee benefits, such as vacation days, bonuses, or retirement plans.

In some cases, a judge may order the employer to take further precautionary measures that will serve to prevent discrimination from occurring again in the future. These types of remedies may involve changing or drafting new policies included in the employer’s handbooks, or even setting up systems that will allow their workers to report employer misconduct (e.g., discrimination, sexual harassment, etc.).

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination?

If you believe that you may have a claim for discrimination in the workplace, then you should consider speaking with a local discrimination attorney for further assistance.

An experienced discrimination attorney will be able to determine whether or not you have a prima facie case of discrimination. If the answer is yes, then your attorney can help you collect the necessary documents that will be used to support your claim, such as pay stubs, witness accounts, and any employment contracts.

Also, if the evidence is strongly in your favor, then you may be able to obtain a prima facie ruling from the court along with the corresponding legal remedies. A lawyer can help guide you through this process as well, and can represent you in court on the matter.