Previously, we began looking at when an individual may file a discrimination claim against an employer. As we noted, individuals are not required to file a discrimination complaint through Minnesota Department of Human Rights before filing a discrimination claim under Minnesota law, but they are required to file a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing a discrimination claim under federal law.
One of the difficulties a plaintiff can face in any discrimination claim is presenting clear evidence of discrimination. Ideally, a discrimination plaintiff is able to provide direct evidence of discriminatory treatment along with employer statements of intention. Such statements would include language that indicates intentionally treating individuals in the workplace differently on the basis of membership in a protected class, such as race or sex.
Unfortunately, this kind of evidence is often weak or unavailable, or is intermixed with the business’ nondiscriminatory explanations for adverse employment treatment. Because of this, many discrimination cases focus on whether the plaintiff has adequately proven discriminatory treatment based on membership in the protected class, and how credible the employer’s explanations of adverse employment treatment are.
For plaintiffs in these cases, the focus has to be on providing the strongest possible evidence for discriminatory treatment and on ferreting out false explanations for adverse employment action. The seriousness, frequency, and pervasiveness of the adverse employment treatment are all factors that need to be carefully highlighted in building a strong case.
Employers don’t necessarily always engage in illegal employment discrimination by intentionally treating employees differently. Some employment discrimination cases are based on employment practices which have an unfair impact on members of a protected class. In our next post, we’ll say a bit more about this type of employment discrimination case.