Proving Employment Discrimination: The Basics

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Employment Law

Despite many strides over the years, employment discrimination continues to be a problem here in the Twin Cities area and across the country. For example, the Washington Post reports that there were over one million discrimination complaints filed between 2010 and 2017. Filing a complaint and proving your case are entirely different, which is why you should keep the following things in mind.

What is Employment Discrimination?

Before you can file a complaint, it’s important to make sure that your case qualifies. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an employer may not discriminate against you based on certain criteria such as age, race, religion, sex, or national origin. In other words, an employer may not use this criteria to make decisions on hiring, promotions, layoffs, etc.

Certain acts could also be considered employment discrimination if the employer knew about them or did not take the necessary measures to prevent them. An example would be when other workers are harassing you and your boss knows about it but does not take action.

Collecting Direct Evidence

Now that you know what discrimination is, you’ll need to gather evidence of it in order to present your case. One way you can do that is through direct evidence. Direct evidence is normally statements that are placed in writing and can include:

  • Inter-office memorandums
  • Written policies in company handbooks
  • Performance evaluations
  • Write-ups and other disciplinary actions
  • Derogatory notes or letters

Collecting Indirect Evidence

Remember that to qualify, direct evidence must clearly state that you are being discriminated against because you belong to a protected class. While it is possible to find such evidence, the odds of you coming up with it is actually rather slim. This means your case may rely a great deal on indirect or circumstantial evidence instead.

To prevail, you must provide enough circumstantial evidence to convince a judge that you were indeed a victim of discrimination. Document discriminatory acts in a journal, noting what, when, and where an event happened. Doing so will help you prove that there has been a pattern of similar behavior.

Witness statements can also be a form of circumstantial evidence. If others witness your treatment, ask them to provide a confidential written statement laying out the events. You may also wish to gather statements from others who have experienced the same form of discrimination as yourself.

Actions after Gathering Evidence

Once you have gathered your evidence, you will first need to file a complaint with the EEOC. In Minnesota, you have 300 days from the alleged incident if your employer has 15 or more employees. If there are fewer than 15 employees, that time frame is extended to one year.

File your complaint at local office here in the Twin Cities area located at:

Towle Building

330 South Second Avenue, Suite 720

Minneapolis, MN 55401-2224

Phone: 952-641-7734

Walk-ins are accepted at this office between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. Even so, the agency recommends scheduling an appointment for an interview by using the EEOC’s online portal.

Help from a Knowledgeable Employment Attorney in Minnesota

You only have one shot at filing an EEOC complaint. An experienced attorney can help you make it count. Allow us to review your case before filing a complaint to ensure all the necessary documentation is included.

If you have already filed an EEOC complaint and have been told that you can now move forward with a court case, we would like to hear from you as well. Please contact us so that we can assist you with getting the justice you deserve.


Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individualsituation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.