In the U.S., job applicants and employees have a right to be free from discrimination and harassment by employers. Indeed, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers cannot treat you differently because of your race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic.
Most employers are familiar with the legal protections their employees enjoy. As a result, it is not uncommon for discriminatory employers to blame an employee’s termination on something else. For example, your employer might rationalize firing you by claiming you failed to meet performance standards.
Was your employer’s explanation merely a pretext?
In the employment law context, pretext refers to a rationale that is not genuine. If your employer’s explanation is merely a pretext, your employer is trying to cover the true reason for your termination. You should know, however, that federal law prohibitions employers from using pretexts to hide their discriminatory conduct.
How do you prove a pretext?
As you might imagine, proving your employer is lying about the true reason for your termination can be difficult. Simply put, the more evidence you can gather, the greater the probability you have of proving a pretext exists. Performance evaluations, coworker testimony and employment records can be useful. After all, if your employer has discriminated against you, others may have experienced the same mistreatment.
Your employer should not get away with disguising the actual discriminatory reason for your termination. Ultimately, if you can prove your employer’s rationale was a pretext, you may be eligible for meaningful compensation.