To prove discrimination you must show that:
- You are a member of a protected class;
- You were qualified for the job you applied for, and were ready to start working, or you were good at the job you had;
- Your boss made an unfair decision; and
- Your boss treated someone outside your protected class better than you.
You will need to show evidence to prove these things. There are a two types of evidence:
- Direct evidence: This could be a statement by your supervisor that she doesn’t like people of your race.
- Indirect evidence: This could be a statement toward other employees in the protected group.
How do I know if I was discriminated against?
Keep an eye out for discriminatory comments or actions. Pay attention to how people in the protected class are treated differently from people outside of it. If you think decisions are being made against you because you are in a protected class, that's discrimination.
However, just because something is unfair doesn't mean it's discrimination. The decision has to be something that affects your job. So, if your supervisor gives out candy to employees, and gives you less because of your membership in a class, that would probably not be enough to win a case.
Are there special rules about job applications?
Yes. Employers with 15 or more employees may not ask you about your criminal history on a job application. Once they decide you are qualified and invited you for an interview, they can ask you about your criminal history. If there is no interview, they can ask you about your criminal history after giving you a conditional offer of employment.
Also, an employer cannot ask questions about:
- Ethnic origin
If these questions appear on a written employment application, they must be listed as optional.
What will the employer do if I bring a claim of discrimination against them?
The employer has to explain why they made the decision they did. They must prove that they had a legal, nondiscriminatory business reason for their decision.
For example, they may say that you were not qualified to do the job, or that you were showing up late too much.
What happens after the employer gives their reason for the decision?
You must be able to prove that the reason the employer gave is not the true or real reason. You have to prove that it was given as a lie or cover-up for the real reason: that you are a member of your protected class.
Updated: October 2017