Experiencing workplace discrimination can be traumatizing and devastating. Colorado victims of workplace discrimination often have a hard time coming forward, out of fear of retaliation or not being believed.
You have a right to a workplace environment free of discrimination. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”) protects you from discrimination based on your age, disability, gender, national origin race, sex and other protected characteristics.
It takes courage to report your claims of workplace discrimination. Once you do, you must begin building your discrimination case.
You must show that you were treated differently or negatively because of one of these protected characteristics. Specifically, you must prove that you are a member of one of the protected classes, were qualified for the position you held and that an adverse action was taken against you.
An adverse action can be more than being fired. Being denied a promotion, being harassed or being denied requests, such as accommodation due to your religion, are examples of an adverse action.
When your employer learns you have filed a discrimination claim against them, there are several defenses they may try to assert.
One of the most common defenses is your job performance. Your employer may use job performance records, such as attendance records, performance reviews or records of verbal or written warnings to show that discrimination was not the reason for their action against you.
It is important to gather all documentation related to your employment after you file your claim. You can use documentation of positive performance reviews, a good attendance record or anything else showing you were a good employee to fight against this defense.
Bona fide occupational qualification
Another defense is that the adverse action was because you did not possess a bona fide occupational qualification. These is a common defense in cases involving sex or gender.
To use the bona fide occupational qualification defense, an employer must claim that you would be unable to perform the duties of a specific job safely or efficiently and that was the reason for the adverse action, such as not being hired.
Breach of contract
If your employment involved a contract, your employer may try to claim you breached your employment contract in some way. Make sure you review any employment contracts to prepare for any possible defenses.
Finally, be aware of defenses based on a technicality, such as a delay in filing your claim or failure to notify your employer. You must tell your employer about the discrimination before filing a claim, so they have an opportunity to correct it. Forgetting a requirement like this could destroy your claim.
Workplace discrimination can permanently impact your life, causing you emotional harm and damaging your career. Knowing these potential defenses your employer may try to use can help you prepare to address them and increase your chance of recovering compensation.