Employer wrongdoing is quite common, yet you may not have experienced it yourself. While it may seem like you have been discriminated against or unlawfully harassed, what you experienced could simply be the anger of a mean boss or manager who has no understanding of your personal needs. Proving that your employer engaged in illegal workplace discrimination takes a lot of evidence, and before you waste your time and energy in filing a discrimination lawsuit, it is in your best interest to see if you really do have a valid claim.
What is Discrimination?
Before you even begin filing a claim, you need to truly understand what is and what is not discrimination. Workplace discrimination is any unfavorable employment decision that is made based on a protected characteristic of an employee or applicant. In Pennsylvania, protected characteristics include the following:
- Age (if over 40)
- National origin
- Relationship to a person with a disability
- Having a GED instead of a high school diploma
- Use of a guide or support animal due to blindness, deafness, or a physical handicap, or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals.
Employment decisions are related to the following:
- Reasonable accommodations
- Salary or wages
- Career trajectory
- Work tasks and obligations
Harassment and creating a hostile work environment are also evidence of discrimination and reasons to file a claim.
Do You Have Sufficient Evidence?
We can help you determine what constitutes evidence, and what will be enough. The best evidence may be in the form of emails, notes, texts, voice messages, employee handbooks, wage documents, recruiting information, and other forms of writing. Witnesses can also be another good type of evidence. You must prove that your employer engaged in a “pattern or practice” of discrimination where the employer repeatedly and regularly engaged in prohibited acts, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). An isolated incident may not be grounds for a lawsuit.
Using Other Employee’s Witness Testimony
Chances are that if discrimination was as prevalent in your workplace as you believe it is, you have other coworkers who have either seen first hand the discrimination that you have suffered, or they have experienced it themselves. Using co-worker testimony as eyewitness statements can be valuable in proving the validity and severity of your claim. However, if these coworkers have experienced discrimination themselves, but did not see it done to you, their “me too” evidence may be admissible in court, according to the American Bar Association. In many cases, the court has not admitted “me too” testimony or has greatly sanitized it. Attorneys who represent employers know this and generally take advantage of it, potentially throwing out your best chance at proving that discrimination occurred in your workplace through the testimony of other victims.
A Pennsylvania Attorney can Help Today
The attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys have the experienced and knowledge to provide the counseling that you need, and can help you decide whether or not you should file a claim. We only take on employment cases, and we only represent employees, meaning that all of our resources and experience are invested into helping employees who have been taken advantage of or have had their civil rights impeded. Call us today for help.