Discriminatory Firing Claims
I think I was fired because I’m a woman.
I think I was fired because I’m a woman, how do I prove it?
To prove you were fired because you are a woman, you need to show the following:
By establishing all of these elements, you will create an initial presumption that your employer discriminated against you on the basis of sex.
Are women a "protected class"?
Yes, women are an explicitly "protected class" under the TCHRA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
How do I show that my legally protected class led to my discharge?
Any direct evidence or circumstantial evidence of discrimination will help prove that your employer inappropriately considered your gender when deciding to fire you.
I’ve just received a warning from my employer, and I suspect I will be fired soon. What should I do?
One thing you can do is document everything. You should begin gathering information: clarify the warning, if necessary, by asking your employer, get a hold of company policy on warnings/dismissals to ensure that your employer is following its own policies, talk to trusted co-workers to see if they have any insights into what they have observed in the workplace, keep track of the date/time of interactions with your employer as well as any documents that may be relevant, and most importantly, consider whether the warning may have something to do with sex discrimination or complaining about sex discrimination. Ask yourself if your employer’s warning comes on the heels of your confronting the company about sex discrimination. If so, there may be more to the warning than meets the eye.
What can I do to protect any legal rights I might have before leaving my job?
You should definitely keep a paper trail and try to document the date and time of any interactions with your employer. Dates and times become very relevant if you decide to file a claim of sex discrimination because the Workforce Commission needs to be able to evaluate whether you are filing your claim within the statute of limitations. You should also try to gather any relevant documents you might have access to, such as a hiring letter, termination letter, any documents in your personnel file, and any employee handbook or policy manual. These documents may serve as important evidence down the line if you proceed with filing a claim of sex discrimination against your employer.
I am being forced to leave my job. But before I go, my employer requires that I sign a document promising not to sue. Is that legal?
It is not illegal for your employer to get you to sign a waiver, but the waiver itself may not hold up in court. Be conscious that you are taking a risk if you sign a waiver. If you have any doubts about your employer’s reasons for firing you, especially if you think your employer may be retaliating or discriminating against you, you should not sign the waiver. You may want to consult with an attorney before signing anything.
What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?
Your employer will have an opportunity to produce evidence that it fired you for a legal, non-discriminatory reason. If your employer is silent or does not rebut your initial evidence, and if the court or jury believes your evidence, you should win the case. On the other hand, if your employer does offer evidence that it fired you for a legal, non-discriminatory reason, you will have the final burden to persuade the court to believe your side of the story.
Ultimately, you must show that your sex was a motivating factor in your employer’s decision to fire you — even if other factors led to the decision as well. Be aware, however, that under Texas law, if your employer can show that you were going to be fired anyway, despite illegally considering your sex, your remedies may be limited to "declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and … [certain] attorney’s fees."
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