Documents to Show Your Attorney: Wrongful Job Termination
If you believe you have been discriminated against, retaliated against, or harassed, you can talk to an attorney about representing your interests. During the first few meetings with your attorney, you will be asked a number of questions.
In addition to talking to your attorney about your claim, you may also need to show your attorney documents relating to your claim. Knowing how to prove discrimination in the workplace is an important part of winning your case.
Your Personnel File
If you have been harassed or discriminated against at work, your attorney will need to develop an idea of your employment record. For example, they will want to know if you have had a number of disciplinary warnings or if you have received poor performance evaluations. This information will be contained in your personnel file. Your attorney will generally request your personnel file on your behalf.
Employee Handbook and Company Policies
A number of employers have employee handbooks that they distribute to their employees. These policies and handbooks often contain an anti-discrimination or anti-harassment policy. Other employers may post anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in common areas of the workplace, including the locker room or break room.
If you have a copy of any employee policies or worker handbooks, bring a copy of these policies to your attorney's office. If you do not have it, it is not a big deal because your attorney will usually be able to request it as part of the personnel records request.
Diary or Journal Entries
Many people may find it helpful to keep a written log of any repeated incidents of discrimination or harassment they experience. Your attorney will look for specific examples of unlawful activity and patterns of conduct. Quotes of what was said/done, who said/did them, that person's position in the company, who else was present, and the date and time the events occurred may be critical.
The diary entries could include information such as the date, time, and location of the discrimination or harassment, in addition to a brief description of the offensive or illegal act and the names of any witnesses present.
Employee Pay Records
If you have experienced lost time from work as a result of harassment or discrimination, you should provide your attorney with copies of your records. If you are successful in proving your claim your attorney may be able to recover your lost wages as damages and possibly other penalties as well, e.g., waiting time penalties.
If your hours were reduced, you may need to show proof of the difference between your earnings before the discrimination or harassment started, and your earnings afterward. If you do not have copies of these records, your attorney will usually be able to obtain them from your employer.
If you were fired, keep a log of all the places you have applied to after being terminated. This information can be important for your attorney to show how you made efforts to mitigate damages.
Physical Evidence of the Discrimination or Harassment
It is important to provide any physical evidence you have of the discrimination or harassment. For example, if an inappropriate or vulgar picture was left on your desk at work, keep the picture and provide it to your attorney. Your attorney may also review any discriminatory or harassing emails or text messages.
As another example, in California, if you were denied housing because you are a member of a protected class, keep any written documents or information you have about the property that was for sale or rent, such as print advertisements or listing brochures. No matter how upsetting you may find a piece of evidence of discrimination or harassment, it is important that you keep it. It may be one of the best ways to prove your case.
Mental Health Records
If being the victim of discrimination or harassment has caused you to seek mental health treatment or counseling, your attorney will need to know that information; it may also affect your entitlement to a recovery of damages. If you do not have these records, at least be able to provide your attorney with the names, telephone numbers, and addresses of your counselors or doctors.
Your attorney will likely have you sign a medical authorization request to allow them to obtain your records on your behalf. Be sure to update your attorney if you switch to a new doctor or stop seeing your doctor. If costs of treatment are an issue, your attorney may be able to help.
If being the victim of discrimination or harassment has caused you to develop a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, your attorney will also need to know this information. As with your mental health records, if you do not have a copy of your medical records, you should at least provide the names and contact information to your attorney.
If there were witnesses to any of the alleged incidences of discrimination or harassment, your attorney will find it beneficial to have a list of their names and contact information, if known. This will save your attorney time in trying to track down witnesses who may support your allegations.
- EEOC's Charge Processing Procedures
- What to Expect: An EEOC Cause of Action Chronology
- Filing an EEOC Complaint or Charge
Seek Professional Help With Your Discrimination in the Workplace Claim
Now that you've learned how to prove discrimination in the workplace, you should have a better idea of whether your claim is solid. An employment law attorney may have other suggestions for proving your claim as well. Get started today and find an experienced employment law attorney near you.
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