Let’s say you were fired, and you believe that your termination was based on discrimination. Suddenly you are jobless, fear about your finances, and you feel angry about the situation.
Hiring a discrimination attorney will help you learn whether you have a potential lawsuit, and if you do, they will guide you into the process.
Determine if you were illegally discriminated
Sometimes when people get fired, they believe it was not fair, and they start to seek reasons and analyze the situation. However, it does not mean that your termination (no matter how unfair it was) is illegal discrimination.
If your termination was illegal discrimination, it should fall into a category protected by one of the federal or state anti-discrimination laws. There are cases where this is easy for defining (a pregnant woman was fired, e.g.) But, not every category is that easy for definition. The best way to be sure whether your determination was illegal discrimination, is to consult an employment lawyer.
Being part of a protected group is not enough to file a discrimination lawsuit. Besides that, you need to prove that your employer took disadvantageous employment action against you because of your protected status.
The fact that you belong in a protected category and the fact that your employer took some adverse action against is not enough for a discrimination case. You must prove that your employer had the intention to take action because of your protected status.
These are the groups in the protected status and discrimination based on one or more of the below mentioned “protected categories” is unlawful:
- Age discrimination (40 years and above)
- The family and medical leave act
- The Americans with disabilities act
- Race, religion, national origin discrimination
- Gender or pregnancy discrimination
If you have faced unlawful workplace discrimination, you may already have a feeling that you might lose your job. To be entirely sure, you can consult an employment lawyer while you are still employed. While still being employed, you have the chance to collect evidence.
Collecting evidence to supporting your case
When hiring a discrimination attorney, you will be asked (if you haven’t already) to gather evidence that will support your case.
It will not be easy to prove what your employer’s intention was when they fired you. This is because employers are not senseless to say that they discriminated against you on some basis.
You will have to gather enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that your employer took action for a discriminatory reason. Let’s see it in an example: your employer told you that they are firing you because of unsatisfactory performance, even though your recent months you had great reviews, you have the crucial discriminatory motive.
The most important thing your attorney would do is collect the evidence that could potentially win your case.
The evidence gathering process is the crucial process in the “discovery phase” of filing a lawsuit.
Federal Laws “protected status”
Federal anti-discrimination laws forbid discrimination against employees based on their gender, race, age, pregnancy, national origin, genetic information, religion, and military status.
State laws “protected status”
State anti-discrimination laws are different in various states and have several categories that are not protected by federal laws.
Some states forbid employment discrimination based on marital status, sexual orientation, and gender. But there are cities and counties that have their own anti-discrimination statutes protecting additional categories (such as physical appearance and weight).
How your lawyer will evaluate your discrimination case
The law is specific about what is illegal employment discrimination. Your attorney would want to be sure that your case falls under a protected class. Determining if you are in a protected class is a simple element of the analysis. It would help the lawyer to see if you have a case or not. For example, if you believe that your employer discriminated against your age when they fired you, you cannot have a case if you are younger than forty years of age.
Most employees in North Carolina and the United States are “at-will” employees. The employer can fire them without giving them a cause.
The analysis can be complicated, especially for cases when it is necessary to determine if the employee has any physical or mental impairment that the federal law defines a disability.
If you believe that your firing was a result of discrimination, but you want to be sure that you have a case and file a lawsuit, contact our firm and schedule your consultation today.