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What’s Required to Prove Employment Discrimination?

Posted on August 28, 2022 by Legal Team

Being discriminated against in the workplace can impede your ability to do your job and lead to adverse employment action taken against you, such as being wrongfully demoted, relocated or terminated. It can also cause great emotional distress. If you are a victim of employment discrimination in Ohio, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. 

What Is Employment Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination means treating a worker less favorably than someone else who is outside of the worker’s protected class. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a protected class is safe from unfair treatment or harassment under federal law. Protected classes include sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy ethnicity, race, color, religion, age and disability. 

If an employer or someone else in the workplace shows preferential treatment to someone else who is not in the protected class or takes adverse employment action against an individual due to protected information, it is workplace discrimination. Examples include refusing to hire someone because of his or her race, denying reasonable accommodations to someone with a disability, and firing someone after discovering that he or she is LGBTQ+.

What Are the Elements of an Employment Discrimination Case?

If you bring an employment discrimination lawsuit, it is up to you or your attorney to prove your claim based on a preponderance of the evidence. This burden of proof means the defendant is “more likely than not” responsible for the plaintiff’s damages; the defendant is liable with at least a 51 percent certainty. You or your lawyer will need to establish clear and convincing evidence of the following four elements for a successful employment discrimination case:

  1. You are a member of a protected class.
  2. You had the qualifications and ability to do the primary tasks required for the job.
  3. You faced adverse employment action despite meeting the requirements of the job.
  4. A comparable employee outside of the legally protected class received preferential treatment.

Proving your case requires evidence that you are a member of a protected class that is being discriminated against by your employer. For example, if you are claiming that your employer is ageist (prejudiced against older employees), you must show that you are over the age of 40 and that the adverse employment action occurred due to a bias against this protected class. Evidence to support this claim could include you being replaced by a younger employee who is less qualified.

How Do You Prove Employment Discrimination?

Evidence is the foundation of a successful employment discrimination case in Ohio. If you or your lawyer can show evidence of the four elements mentioned above, you will have a prima facie case, meaning the law will presume that you were a victim of employment discrimination. In this scenario, the burden of proof will shift to your employer, who must show there was a reason for the adverse employment action outside of the protected class. 

Evidence that may play a critical role in your discrimination case could include:

  • Discriminatory content in emails, messages or memos from your employer.
  • Express or implied racism, ageism, ableism or homophobia in the workplace.
  • Your CEO expressing a preference for people outside of your protected class.
  • Indirect evidence, such as being excluded from meetings due to a protected class.
  • Performance evaluations, awards or recognition that prove you were adept at your job

The available evidence to support your case may be direct or circumstantial. Even if your employer is too savvy to directly express prejudices, circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove your case. The most effective way to build an employment discrimination claim in Ohio is by hiring an attorney to assist you. An attorney can go up against a discriminatory employer on your behalf to prove this tort and demand fair financial compensation for your related losses.