It’s Discrimination, But I Can’t Prove It

Too many initial consults start like this: “I feel like I’ve been discriminated against, but I can’t prove it.” Or, “It seems like I’m being retaliated against, but I can’t prove it.” My response is, “You don’t have to: that’s my job.”

People have a great sense that what is happening to them beyond their control is due to discrimination or retaliation. They are often right. They also often have a hard time putting it into words. They struggle for terms and conclusions. They think unless the boss admits it they don’t have a case. They shouldn’t worry. That’s my job.

Let me ask questions. When I do, I’m looking for evidence, of various kinds for discriminatory or retaliatory intent. Don’t worry about those legal terms. I’m looking for dates, sequence of events, people, titles, chain of command, comments, people who do what you do to compare to, rules, rule books, documents, and more.

I’m looking for evidence of disparate impact. Don’t worry about the legal term: it means that what is happening to you is harder on you because of who you are. It generally means not just you, but several others like you. I’ll ask about rules, policies, culture, and patterns of behavior that are tougher on you and people like you, but not everyone.

Don’t worry about whether or not you have a case. That’s my job. I’ll take what you provide, sift through it, decide whether it applies or not, and let you know what we’re able to do.


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