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As an Ohio employment discrimination lawyer, it is important that employees understand the elements of an employment discrimination case. As an Ohio employment discrimination attorney, most cases of discrimination must go through certain steps.
If an employee plans to assert a violation of a federal anti-discrimination statute, including the ADA/ADAAA (disability discrimination), Title VII (discrimination based upon pregnancy, gender, race, color, religion, or national origin), ADEA (age discrimination), and GINA (genetic information discrimination), the employee must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The EEOC will generally investigate the charge of discrimination (and may mediate or hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the charge of discrimination) before it issues a Notice of Right to Sue.
Once an employee receives the Notice of Right to Sue, the employee may pursue legal action in federal court. The employee has the burden of proving employment discrimination. In order to make a prima facie case of employment discrimination, the employee must show all of the following:
- the employee is a member of a protected class (meaning they fit into one of the categories protected by the laws against discrimination);
- the employee was qualified for the position;
- the employee was subject to an adverse employment action, including but not limited to termination, refusal to hire, demotion, pay cut, etc; and
- someone not in the protected class benefited from the adverse employment action taken against the employee or the employee’s position remained open after the adverse employment action.
An employee must establish each of the elements (1) through (4) above before the burden will shift to the employer to prove that it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the employment action. Employers will almost certainly never say they are taking action for an unlawful reason so in all likelihood at least one legitimate, non-discriminatory reason will be given for the employment action.
After the employer provides a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason the burden shifts back to the employee to prove that the employer’s reason was merely pretext for discrimination (meaning it isn’t the true reason the employment action was taken).
This is a very short summation of employment discrimination cases. Before taking any action on your own behalf, it is advisable to speak with an Ohio employment discrimination lawyer who handles employment discrimination cases on a regular basis. Feel free to contact our office if you would like to discuss any employment discrimination questions you may have with an Ohio employment discrimination lawyer.