The Various Faces of Employment Discrimination

There is a huge difference between being yelled at by an employer and being discriminated against. It is wise to know these distinctions prior to speaking to an attorney.

Illegal discrimination is one thing, being given work that isn’t challenging, being given a poor performance rating at work or even being yelled at in the workplace is not cause to file a discrimination suit. “The major distinction is that discrimination takes places when an employer treats an employee differently because that person is a member of a “protected” class – age, race, religion, disability, gender and/or familial status,” commented Deborah Barron, of the Barron Law Office in Sacramento, California.

While being treated differently might not be hard to prove, proving why those differences exist and finding out what the motive is for the conduct is another can of worms altogether. Suffice it to say that it would be a challenge to find out those factors and be able to prove them in a court of law.

It is often difficult to prove discrimination, but it should be pointed out that some forms are easier to get a handle on. “For example, racial discrimination may be quite evident if the employer/supervisor makes constant remarks of a derogatory nature about a person’s race, constantly tells jokes about them and/or uses slang terms to refer to them,” said Barron. Often another telltale sign is if the employer is slowly replacing workers of a certain race with others of a different ethnic origin, which may be the same as the employer.

Discrimination of a medical nature (disability) often may be implied or outright proven causally if an employee was let go or given a demotion right after they suffered a serious injury or had been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition.

In the area of age discrimination, the proof may lie in demonstrating the company fired an employee over the age of 40 or 50 without any other valid reason (poor performance, etc.) and then got a new person who is younger. “If a consistent pattern exists of the company doing this kind of thing, it’s fairly strong evidence of age discrimination,” explained Deborah Barron, of the Barron Law Office in Sacramento, California.

There are many faces of discrimination in a workplace and if faced with a situation such as this, consult with an attorney who has experience in this area. “The attorney will advise the plaintiff of their rights and outline what steps would need to be taken should the complainant wish to file a discrimination lawsuit,” explained Barron.

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