You work hard at your job doing your best to meet your employer’s expectations. You receive outstanding performance evaluations. You have been loyal to the company for years, taking on greater responsibilities each and every year. A promotion becomes available. This is a job you have wanted for years, and you believe with all of your heart that this is now your opportunity. You interview for that job and feel good about your chances.
What could go WRONG:
You are not selected for the job and come to learn that the person selected is significantly less qualified than you are to perform that job. Why weren’t you selected?
At the time that you are not selected, the company offers a reason for your non-selection. That reason proves to be false based on your inquiries and additional information that you have.
Months later, you learn of another reason offered for your non-selection after you file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In response to your charge, the employer offers another reason for your non-selection and, noticeably absent, is the first reason offered.
You suspect that the employer’s reasons offered for your non-selection are a pretext – or cover-up – for gender discrimination. (You can substitute any protected basis for gender here, such as race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and so on, as this scenario applies equally to all forms of discrimination.) So, what should you do?
The RIGHT CHOICE:
Since my early days in law practice working as a trial lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, I have investigated and prosecuted many claims of discrimination based on protected bases, including race, gender, national origin, religion, disability and others. These claims involving, hiring, treatment on the job, promotions, the work environment, and other terms and conditions of employment. Such claims are difficult to prove and are labor intensive. There is usually no “smoking gun” evidence that clearly proves that an employer harbors prejudice or discriminates.
The Right Choice begins with a detailed investigation into the facts. This includes interviewing lower level, non-managerial employees who observe and hear what goes on in the workplace. Seemingly irrelevant evidence may become more important. I frequently say to clients, “Specificity breeds truth.” The more details about what happened from various sources who can corroborate the facts, the better. The more information from persons who contradict or call into question the credibility of adverse witnesses, the better.
These strategies, among others, go a long way toward creating leverage that can make a positive resolution possible.