How to Document Workplace Discrimination
Workplace discrimination and harassment based on your protected characteristics are illegal in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and across the U.S. If you believe that you have been the victim of illegal discrimination or harassment at your job, you might need the help of an experienced employment discrimination attorney to represent you. Your attorney will start by asking you multiple questions to help him or her evaluate the merits of your claim. It can be helpful to both your lawyer and your claim to gather certain types of documents to strengthen your claim and demonstrate its merits. Understanding how to prove that discrimination or harassment has occurred is critical to your ability to recover damages for your losses. Here are some of the types of documents you should collect to help demonstrate support for your claim from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
Copies of the Documents in Your Personnel File
While there is no federal law giving employees the right to inspect their personnel records, most employers and human resources departments do allow employees to do so. If you have been discriminated against or harassed at your job, ask to see your personnel records. If you cannot gain access to your personnel records, make sure to save copies of any performance evaluations you have received. Your attorney will want to know whether you have a history of good or poor performance reviews and whether or not you have had disciplinary warnings in the past. If you are unable to get a copy of the documents in your personnel file, your lawyer can get a copy of them for you from your employer.
Employee Handbook/Policy and Procedures Manual
Many employers provide employees with employee handbooks and copies of their companies’ policies and procedures. These types of documents can help your attorney determine whether your employer has engaged in actions that violate its policies or procedures and has violated your rights. In many cases, employee handbooks include anti-harassment or anti-discrimination policies. Policies might also be posted in common areas. Bring copies of your company’s employee handbook and/or policies and procedures with you when you meet with your attorney. If your employer failed to follow its written anti-discrimination or anti-harassment policy, that can help to strengthen your case.
Whenever you believe that you are being targeted for discrimination or harassment at work, you should keep thorough records of each instance of abusive conduct in a journal. Make sure to list the dates and times of each incident together with the names of everyone who was involved and any witnesses who saw what happened. Write down where the discrimination or harassment occurred and a description of exactly what happened.
If you have suffered retaliation, were wrongfully terminated from your job, or have lost time at work because of discrimination or harassment, it is important for you to bring in copies of your pay stubs and W-2s from the time before the discrimination or harassment occurred and afterward. If you are successful with your claim, your attorney might be able to use your pay records to help you recover back pay and front pay. However, you will need to demonstrate the earnings before the discrimination and harassment began and after it did. If you do not have copies of these records, your attorney can get them from your employer on your behalf.
Photos, Emails, Text Messages, and Other Evidence
You should gather all of the evidence that demonstrates the illegal discrimination and harassment that you suffered. For example, if you received harassing emails, text messages, or photographs from the abusive party at your work, you should retain copies of them and bring them to your lawyer’s office. If offensive and discriminatory posters are displayed at your workplace, photograph them. You should also keep a copy of any written internal complaint you filed with the human resources department about the discrimination or harassment along with any follow-up communication you received about any investigation that occurred and its outcome. Regardless of the upsetting nature of this type of evidence, it is critical for you to save copies. Evidence of harassment or discrimination can help your attorney show how pervasive the conduct was in your workplace and that nothing was done to correct the situation after you complained.
Records of Mental Health Treatment
Many people who are the victims of illegal harassment or discrimination at work develop mental health issues, including anxiety or depression. If the conduct at your workplace was severe and pervasive enough to make the environment hostile, this can be especially true. If you sought counseling or mental health treatment because of the environment at your workplace and its impacts on your mental health, you should ask for copies of all of your mental health treatment records from your counselor or psychologist. These types of documents might help your attorney recover damages for you for the costs related to the treatment you received. You can ask for copies at your counselor’s office. If you do not have them, your attorney can get copies for you as long as you provide him or her with the name, telephone number, and address of your treating mental health professional.
Some people who are the victims of harassment or discrimination at their jobs develop medical conditions as a result. Abusive treatment can impact your overall health. If this has happened in your case, you should also gather all of your medical records from the doctors who have treated you. If you do not have copies of these records, provide your lawyer with their names, phone numbers, and addresses so that he or she can get copies for you.
Information About All Witnesses
If people witnessed any of the incidents in which you were the victim of harassment or discrimination, providing their names, phone numbers, emails, and addresses will be helpful to your attorney. Providing this information can help to save your attorney time trying to track down people who might support or deny the allegations you are making.
Talk to the Lawyers at Swartz Swidler
Having evidence of discrimination or harassment at your job is critical for the success of your claim. Gather as much evidence as you can, and contact Swartz Swidler to schedule a free consultation. We can review your evidence and help you to determine whether your claim has merits. Call us today at (856) 685-7420.