Federal law prohibits the hiring, firing, discipline or promotion of an individual based on race, sex, religion, age or disablity. A racially hostile work environment is also illegal.
A racially hostile work environment exists where race-based harassment has become so pervasive that it materially altered the conditions of employment. Single instances are not enough to establish a hostile work environment, but the more invidious the racial harassment, the fewer instances needed to establish in court. Rude behavior or a lack of racial sensitivity do not evidence a racially hostile work environment.
Unfortunately, proving discrimination is hard to do. Unless there are witnesses who will tell the truth or the employer put it in an email, proving that you weren't hired, or were fired, for discriminatory reasons would require statistical or circumstancial evidence. For example, in a hypothetical company, 5 people were caught breaking the same company policy. Of those 5, four were Race A and one was Race B. The four in Race A were given verbal warnings but the one in Race B was terminated. Depending on other possible factors, this may evidence racial discrimination.
Another example of circumstancial evidence of discrimination would be a reduction in force (aka, layoff) where the only people laid off were all over the age of, say, 55. This would be strong evidence of age discrimination.
As you can tell, whether you can prove discrimination will depend on the particular facts of your situation. And even if you only have circumstantial evidence now, more evidence may come along as a lawsuit proceeds.
Contact us today to discuss your situation.
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