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What to Do if You Have a Discrimination Claim

One of the first steps in pursuing a workplace discrimination claim against your employer is to file a formal complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). But without proof, it’s just your word against your employer’s.

How can you prove that your employer discriminated against you?

To prevail in an employment discrimination lawsuit, you must show two things:

  • You belong to a protected class
  • Your employer treated you materially worse than similarly situated coworkers who do not belong to your protected class

For employment discrimination purposes, a protected class can be race, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age or pregnancy. Many federal, state and local laws add status as a veteran of the armed forces to the list of protected classes.

Showing that you belong to a protected class is the easy part of a discrimination claim.

The hard part comes when you try to show that your employer treated you worse than it did other, similarly situated employees. You have to show that your employer acted as it did due to an unlawful motive — due to your status as a member of a protected class rather than, for example, poor job performance or routine tardiness. Such evidence can include documents of any sort as well as lawfully-recorded conversations. Always consult with an attorney before recording conversations to ensure that you may lawfully do so and use such conversations as evidence.

Other evidence can include:

  • Co-worker testimony about an employer’s disparaging remarks about members of the protected class
  • Degrading or intimidating symbols of bias (e.g., such as a swastika or a noose)
  • Discriminatory jokes, slurs and insults, and admissions of bias (i.e., statements such as “women don’t belong on construction sites”)

Your first step in prevailing in an employment discrimination claim — even before speaking with a Georgia employment lawyer — is to gather this kind of evidence. Collect all the documents you can, ask trusted co-workers for written statements and even keep a diary of your experiences.

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