Employment Discrimination Cases: What You Need to Prove

Did you know that discrimination complaints increased in 2024, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receiving over 500,000 calls and 81,055 charges, yet 45% of employees are unaware of their company’s anti-discrimination rules?

Discrimination can happen at any stage of employment, from hiring to firing and everything in between. One example is unequal pay or promotion opportunities due to discrimination. When pursuing employment discrimination cases, only 1 in 10 cases actually results in a favorable outcome for the employee.

According to discrimination lawyer Miguel Ramirez, if you have encountered any type of workplace discrimination, you can file legal action against your employer. It can be complicated but with the guidance of professionals, you can effectively outline the necessary evidence and legal arguments to support your claim.

But what exactly do you need to demonstrate to succeed in proving discrimination in the workplace?

Discriminatory Intent

Establish discriminatory intent to demonstrate that bias drove the unfavorable actions rather than legitimate justifications to demonstrate employment discrimination. Discriminatory intent can be inferred from various factors, like insensitive remarks or differential treatment based on protected characteristics like race, gender, or age. For instance, if a supervisor consistently makes derogatory comments about an employee’s religion and subsequently demotes that employee, it could be indicative of discriminatory intent.

In cases of discriminatory intent, you must gather evidence that directly links the adverse actions to biased motivations. Analyze the circumstances surrounding the adverse actions to establish a clear connection between the biased intent and the resulting harm.

Disparate Treatment Evidence

Establish evidence of disparate treatment by demonstrating discriminatory practices in employment cases. This type of evidence involves showing that an employer treated an employee less favorably because of their race, gender, age, or other protected characteristic.

To prove disparate treatment, you must provide examples where individuals in similar situations were treated differently based on their protected status. This could include instances where a qualified candidate was passed over for a promotion in favor of a less qualified individual solely because of their race or gender.

You can demonstrate disparate treatment by highlighting any discriminatory remarks or actions made by supervisors or coworkers. Document these instances and collect any relevant emails, memos, or witnesses’ testimonies to strengthen your case.

Direct evidence of discriminatory intent isn’t always required; circumstantial evidence that suggests differential treatment based on a protected characteristic can also be compelling in proving disparate treatment.

Adverse Employment Action

Adverse actions refer to any negative changes in your employment status or conditions that result from discrimination.

These actions can include being fired, demoted, denied a promotion, given a pay cut, or being subjected to harassment or a hostile work environment. Prove that these adverse actions occurred as a direct result of discriminatory motives rather than for legitimate reasons.

If you were suddenly terminated after disclosing your pregnancy and there’s evidence that other non-pregnant employees with similar performance were retained, this could indicate discrimination based on pregnancy. It’s not just about proving that adverse actions took place, but also establishing a clear link between these actions and discriminatory intent.

Causal Connection Requirement

Demonstrate a causal connection as it links the adverse employment action to the discriminatory motive. To establish this connection, you need to show that the adverse action occurred because of a discriminatory reason.

The causal link can be demonstrated through various means, like showing a pattern of discriminatory behavior, discriminatory remarks by decision-makers, or the timing of events (e.g., the proximity of the discriminatory act to the adverse employment action). Gather documentation, witness testimonies, performance evaluations, and any other relevant information that supports your claim of discrimination. Establishing a clear causal connection can strengthen your case and increase the chances of proving employment discrimination.

Pretext for Discrimination

When confronting accusations of employment discrimination, discovering a pretext for discriminatory actions becomes important for building a strong case. A pretext is a false reason given to justify discriminatory treatment.

To establish a pretext for discrimination, you must show that the reasons provided by the employer for the adverse employment action aren’t genuine but rather a cover-up for discriminatory motives. This can be achieved by demonstrating inconsistencies in the employer’s explanations, highlighting differential treatment compared to other employees, or presenting evidence that contradicts the employer’s stated justifications.

Proving pretext shifts the burden back to the employer to demonstrate that discrimination wasn’t a factor in the employment decision. Meticulously gather and analyze evidence to expose any underlying discriminatory intent masked by seemingly legitimate reasons.


So if you recently experienced discrimination at work, you may have grounds for legal action. To win an employment discrimination case, you must prove discriminatory intent. By meeting these requirements, you can hold your employer accountable for their discriminatory actions and seek justice for the harm done to you.