Proving discrimination as a federal employee isn’t always a straightforward process.
In fact, knowing how to prove discrimination in an EEOC case involves several steps.
First, you need to know what kind of discrimination you’re facing. Second, you need to prove a prima facie case.
Third, you need to show that the agency’s supposedly legitimate reasons for its actions are actually a cover-up for discrimination.
Read on to learn more about what each one of these steps involves. We’ll also touch on related issues that commonly arise in an EEOC case.
What Is Discrimination?
As a federal employee, you enjoy extensive protections from discrimination in the workplace.
These protections extend not only to the job application process but also to every aspect of your employment, including:
- Training opportunities,
- Office perks,
- Job assignments,
- Time off, and
- Job duties.
Discrimination covers an unbelievably large number of different situations. Discrimination occurs when a female employee is passed over for a promotion in favor of a less qualified male employee.
It also occurs when an older worker is terminated and replaced by a younger employee with less experience. It can even include retaliation for prior EEO complaints or other protected activity.
So that means the employee who faces social exclusion and a change in job duties is a victim of discrimination as well.
What Kinds of Discrimination Are There?
As you can learn from the EEOC’s own website, there are many different kinds of illegal discrimination.
These include discrimination against you based on your:
- Religious beliefs (including atheism),
- National origin,
- Age (if you are 40 or older),
- Genetic makeup,
- Mental Disability,
- Physical disability,
- Sexual orientation, and
- Gender identity.
Sometimes, it may be much more difficult to assert because multiple kinds of discrimination are ongoing.
What Kinds of Evidence Can I Use to Prove Discrimination?
For obvious reasons, it’s vital that you understand how evidence is assessed in EEOC cases. Generally, there are three types of evidence that can be used to prove discrimination.
The most persuasive kind of evidence is direct evidence.
Direct evidence in discrimination cases can include statements or documents from employers that directly link the adverse employment action to an individual’s disability.
Another example of direct evidence would be a recording of a hiring official using discriminatory language.
Another type of evidence is comparative evidence. This form of evidence involves looking at similarly situated employees in your workplace and seeing how your employer treats them.
With the help of an attorney, you can assess whether coworkers with different characteristics receive different treatment from your employer in terms of job assignments, overtime shifts, and other factors.
Yet another kind of valuable evidence is circumstantial evidence, which is indirect evidence an EEOC judge can use to infer a legal fact.
Circumstantial evidence in discrimination cases can include things like patterns of adverse employment actions against individuals with disabilities.
Other examples include past discriminatory comments by managers or coworkers, as well as statistical evidence that shows a disparity between employees of different races, sexes, or religions.
Although circumstantial evidence is not as persuasive as direct evidence, it can still be used to support your case.
How to Prove Discrimination in the Workplace
Unless you have direct evidence of discrimination, you have to follow a three-step legal framework to prove discrimination.
This framework was first established in the Supreme Court case, McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. Consequently, many attorneys call this framework the “McDonnell Douglas framework.” It involves three steps.
First, you need to prove a prima facie case of discrimination. This means that you must show that you belong to a protected class.
In addition, you have to show you suffered an adverse employment action and that the adverse action occurred under circumstances that give rise to an inference of discrimination.
Next, your employer has to provide a legitimate or nondiscriminatory reason for its action.
Assuming your employer can provide a reason, you must demonstrate that your employer’s supposedly “nondiscriminatory” reason is actually a pretext for discrimination.
In other words, you need to show that your employer’s asserted reason for acting is not believable and is a pretense.
What Are the Chances of Winning an EEOC Case?
It’s hard to estimate the chances of winning an EEOC case because no two cases are alike.
The outcome of each case depends on various factors, including the strength of the evidence, the credibility of the witnesses, and whether you have legal representation.
Another critical factor is whether your employer is willing to settle the case. If there is a willingness to negotiate a settlement, you may not need to go to court to resolve your case.
Contact the Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing to Get the Representation You Deserve
Now that you know more about the EEOC, discrimination, and the legal process, you need to find quality legal counsel.
As experienced federal employment law attorneys, we’ve seen all kinds of ugly discrimination.
We know the common tricks employers use to try to cover up their discriminatory acts. And we know how to collect the vital evidence you need to prevail in an EEOC case.
Thanks to our experience and track record of success, we have enjoyed countless victories for our clients.
Contact us today to get the answers you need and the representation you deserve. Get started by calling us or reaching out to us online.