Employment discrimination occurs when an employer denies a promotion to an existing employee based on protected characteristics such as age or national origin. In other words, an employer may not favor younger workers when deciding who to promote or take a person's ancestry or perceived ancestry into account. Under federal law, an employee may sue for “failure to promote” if he or she can present facts alleging the following elements:
- The employee is a member of a “protected class”;
- The employee “applied for a promotion” and was qualified for the job sought;
- The employee was turned down for the promotion; and
- After the employee was rejected, the position was eventually filled by someone “similarly or less well qualified.”
The Perils of Representing Yourself in Court
Failure to promote claims can be tricky to prove. An employee may not be immediately aware of any discriminatory intent on the part of management. Even if an employee has a strong sense that they are a victim of employment discrimination, that is not enough to successfully pursue a lawsuit.
An employee may compound the problem by choosing to represent him or herself in court. Consider an ongoing failure to promote case from upstate New York. In this case, a woman alleges that she was illegally denied a promotion by her employer, a bank, due to her age and national origin. She is acting without the assistance of an attorney. While the judge presiding over the case recently denied the bank's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the court had to construe many of the plaintiff's filings “liberally” to account for her lack of experience in dealing with the legal system.
The judge had to infer the plaintiff's age and national origin because her complaint never clearly stated either. These are critical details, of course, in a lawsuit alleging age and national origin discrimination. As construed by the court, the plaintiff is a woman in her late 50s of Mexican descent. She claims that she applied “several times” for a specific promotion without success. For example, she alleged that on one occasion, the promotion she sought went to a “Caucasian or Puerto Rican woman” with substantially less experience. She also claimed the promotion was never posted internally, denying her the opportunity to even apply.
The judge said these allegations were sufficient to sustain a discrimination claim based on national origin. But the judge dismissed the plaintiff's age discrimination claim because she failed to present sufficient facts. Among other problems, the court cited the plaintiff's failure to provide specific ages for co-workers who were allegedly younger and promoted over her.
Get Help With Your New York Employment Discrimination ClaimCourts require facts, not broad allegations of wrongdoing. A successful employment discrimination lawsuit requires careful investigation and preparation. This is not something you can handle by yourself. If you suspect that you were illegally denied a promotion because of age, sex, race, or any other characteristic protected by state and federal law, you need to speak with an experienced New York employment law attorney as soon as possible. Contact the offices of Mahir S. Nisar in New York City or Long Island if you would like to schedule a consultation with a qualified employment discrimination lawyer today.