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Using pattern evidence to prove discrimination

Unfortunately, many New York workers face discrimination at their jobs. There are multiple state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on race, national origin, color, sex, pregnancy, disability and religion. Proving discrimination may be difficult, but people might be able to use evidence of their employers' treatment of others to help prove that the actions against them were unlawful.

Some cases will involve direct evidence of discrimination, but they are rare. Most employers will not make overtly discriminatory statements. Instead, most workers will need to rely on circumstantial evidence, and the employers' past treatment of other workers may be relevant.

For example, if a qualified employee who is black is turned down for a job that is then filled by a less-qualified white worker, the employee may have a stronger case if he or she can present evidence that the employer has a past practice of hiring less-qualified white workers instead of more qualified black workers. The other employees must be similarly situated, but that does not mean that they must be identical. In order to assess whether or not the evidence may be admissible, people should consider whether or not the workers are members of the same protected class, if the employer's treatment of them shows a pattern of discriminatory behavior, the similar nature of these employees and the proximity in time to the treatment of them and of the plaintiffs.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination. Unfortunately, it continues to be a pervasive problem despite the law. Workers who believe that they have been the victims of discrimination might want to consult with experienced employment law attorneys to see what recourse they might have.

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