Proving Workplace Discrimination in California
Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney on Defending Your Employee Rights
Proving workplace discrimination in California can be one of the most difficult steps in a successful discrimination case. It can also be complex, confusing and frustrating. Whether you have fallen victim to the harmful effects of age discrimination, gender discrimination or racial discrimination, it is important to know that there are workplace retaliation laws in place to protect you from wrongful termination and other acts of employer retaliation if you report discriminatory activity.
A Los Angeles discrimination attorney of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob offers free consultations for potential workplace discrimination cases. Speak with our Los Angeles employment attorneys who can provide the experienced legal help workers need when filing California discrimination lawsuits for the compensation and damages they deserve.
How to Prove Discrimination in the Workplace
- You have been treated unjustly based on one of your protected characteristics. Protected characteristics are attributes employers cannot discriminate against, such as age, race, gender, religion, disability and national origin. For examples, as a woman, you are a member of a protected class. The premise is that people in protected classes should be treated no differently than someone who is not a member of that class. You are legally “protected” from discrimination based solely upon the fact that you are a woman.
- You are qualified, capable and honest and performed your job satisfactorily. This is not always that easy to prove. Typically, there will be criticism of your performance as justification for whatever job action was taken. Employers are wise enough to know that they must have adequate criticism of your performance to protect themselves against lawsuits. Having a track record of being a hardworking employee goes far with a California judge and jury. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Know the details of all your assignments and be able to recall them clearly, quickly and consistently.
- Use copies of your prior performance appraisals showing your typical ratings.
- Use any and all letters of commendation that you can obtain. Ask your clients, co-workers and customers to give you letters of commendation.
- Keep copies of all your work to demonstrate the quality of your work.
- Obtain copies of other employees’ work to show the comparison.
If your employer has made openly discriminatory comments, speak with co-workers who may have overheard or experienced workplace discrimination themselves. Witness testimony can hold strong in California discrimination cases.
- Discrimination has negatively affected your job. Despite your qualification for the position, an adverse employment decision made against you. This can include:
- You were discharged or demoted
- Received a bad performance review
- Did not get a raise
- Did not receive a bonus
- Did not receive training
- Were transferred to a lesser job
This should be easy to show by the adverse job action taken against you.
- Job decisions were not objective. Obtain the company policy manual describing performance appraisals and criticism. Demonstrate that the criterion used to criticize you was not in accordance with company policy. Many companies use subjective criteria like, “She is not a team player. She does not communicate well.” Establish that criteria for making job decisions should be objective, time bound, measurable and realistic. If possible, demonstrate that prior appraisals or appraisals of other employees fit these criteria, while yours did not. Try to find contradictions in what your superiors have said. Pointing out as many contradictions as possible is helpful in California discrimination cases:
- Did they criticize you for poor communications when they have previously awarded you for good communications?
- Did they laud you for your technical skills in one time frame, and then criticize you for lack of technical skills in the same time frame, or close to it?
- Did your job performance deteriorate rapidly according to them?
If in the past they praised you on your ability to complete assignments on time, and are now justifying their acts of workplace discrimination on your inability to complete work in a timely manner, you have found a contradiction.
- There is a pattern of unfair treatment at work. Compare your work, conduct and treatment to that of those outside of your protected class as much as possible. Provide proof that others of similar qualifications have been given better opportunities, projects that are more favorable and superior treatment.
- If you are a woman experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace, mention that while your male colleagues are offered promotions consistently, your female co-workers of the same skill level are never afforded the opportunity.
- If you are an African American employee wrongfully terminated for being late on one occasion, but your white co-worker is constantly late and suffers no repercussions, you may have evidence of racial discrimination.
- You do not agree with the discrimination actions or retaliation. Rebut your discriminatory job action. Get it on record that you do not agree with the discriminatory action and its fraudulent justification. If you know that your superior is documenting you and criticizing you due to discrimination, document it and tell him or her so in a letter. List all of your accomplishments and reasons for contesting the adverse job action. File a complaint with your Human Resource department and/or report your employer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ask the EEOC to conduct a formal workplace discrimination investigation. Continually rebut all unfair job actions taken against you, and get it on record. This will help you when and if you need to go to court.
- Someone outside of your protected class filled your position. This is another difficult point to prove for discrimination cases involving wrongful termination, especially in companies that are legally savvy. However, many companies have learned that they can cheat the legal system by discriminating against one protected class, and then replacing a worker wrongfully terminated with another worker of the same protected class. If the company downsizes or restructures and does not fill the position, it may be possible to substitute other evidence.
In addition to these issues, your workplace discrimination claim may involve proving other necessary facts our Los Angeles discrimination attorney can guide you in obtaining and defending. We have more than four decades of combined legal experience assisting workers in similar situations in which you now find yourself. Our discrimination lawyers know the tricks and workarounds California employers will attempt to use to make their actions seem lawful. We will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes for discrimination on the job cases.
How to Prove Wrongful Termination in California
A wrongful termination due to workplace discrimination or workplace retaliation can threaten your career, family life and finances. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove a wrongful termination was due to discrimination in the workplace because the employer may claim “pretext,” or false reason for the wrongful termination.
To prove pretext, the employee must prove the termination was based on discrimination against a protected characteristic, and not for the pretext, or false reason, given by the employer. For instance, if an employer claims an elimination of position as the reason an employee with a disability was terminated, then later fills said position, there may be proof of pretext and wrongful termination based on disability discrimination.
Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney on What to Do about Discrimination at Work
California discrimination laws forbid employers to discriminate against their employees. If you have experienced acts of workplace discrimination, speak with our employment attorneys as soon as possible. Proving workplace discrimination can be complex, and many employers have experience exploiting the legal system. A Los Angeles discrimination attorney at Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob will help to maximize your chances of seeing justice served.