Discrimination cases can be difficult to prove or disprove, especially if the “evidence” on either side is a statement that it did or did not happen. Evidence is important to any claim or defense, though.
The key on both sides is documentation.
An employee’s claim
Bowling Green State University explains that an employee must be able to show that his or her treatment is different from those who are not of the same protected class. Documentation evidence may include:
- Details about the instances when the discrimination occurred
- Satisfactory or exemplary performance evaluations
- Emails and other forms of communication
- Policies and procedures, particularly if a policy adversely affects the protected class
The more documentation the employee has, the stronger the case will be.
An employer’s defense
Employers should always document everything. There should be an employee handbook with clear and unbiased policies and procedures, and the employer should have the employees acknowledge that they read and understand it. Then, the employer should follow the policies and procedures to the letter.
The employer should have a file for every employee, and if the employee fails to abide by a policy, the disciplinary procedure should proceed from verbal warnings to write-ups or other corrective measures. An employee who has trouble adhering to policy is not likely to win a claim that he or she should have received a promotion.
Statistics may also be important. If the company has a diverse group of employees, an applicant whose protected class is well-represented may not be able to claim discrimination.
An employee should bring the matter to the employer before filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and an employer should take it seriously. It may be that the employer and employee can resolve the issue between themselves, particularly if both sides have documentation.