Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Can You Use as Evidence?

I like to repeat this post every so often because it has an important list of different types of information that might be used as evidence. The list is not exhaustive. Depending on your job and the nature of your business, you may have access to different information that can be used to support your complaint of workplace abuses.


Depending on your circumstances, the type of evidence you might gather to prove a case of race-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc. may vary. Things to keep in mind, when considering evidence, are:

--What information do you need to compile that will give a third-party, who is unfamiliar with your circumstances/company, the necessary background information that will help them easily and clearly get up to speed with your situation? (e.g., the organizational structure of your company or department)

--Do I need to compile any information that is specific to my industry/field? Are there key procedures or ethics rules that are involved in my work? (Relevant if you’ve been falsely accused of violating protocols, etc.) Is there some part of my work or field that would be confusing to a third-party?

--What direct evidence do you have? Direct evidence is hard to come by, but isn’t impossible to obtain at some companies. For instance, some employers will have a manager or supervisor that is bold and stupid enough to bring your race into a discussion about why you can’t get a promotion.

Most people, today, are too savvy to make this mistake, but you still hear complaints, from time to time, about someone being called a nig*er or monkey or some other derogatory name that helps show the pattern of racial intolerance and outright hostility that some Whites may have towards Blacks at a company.

What circumstantial evidence do you have? Circumstantial evidence is the most common type of evidence in complaints and cases against companies. Circumstantial evidence is likely what you will have. You need to compile as much of this relevant evidence as you can to support your case.

So, if you want to prove that Blacks are passed over for management jobs, some circumstantial evidence to prove this might be: a list of all managers (with a racial breakdown); two-years of promotion announcements, for management positions (with a racial breakdown); a list of Black workers that were passed over for management promotions; signed affidavits from these working stating the rationale given to deny them a promotion or an affidavit with the person describing other ways that they have personally been passed over or denied opportunities to manage; promotion criteria; and a copy of a management job description and a comparison to your skills and experience.

These are just some examples. Below is a guideline of items to consider when you are developing your evidence of harassment, bullying, intimidation, and discriminatory or retaliatory actions by a company:

--Emails (making false accusations against you, documenting you for false negative behaviors, blaming you for problems caused by other staff, threats/intimidation, etc.)
--Memos and Other Documentation (reports, charts, etc. or memos citing false performance deficiencies, putting you on probation or giving you written warnings, etc.)
--Handwritten notes
--Voice Mail Messages (transcribe, save, and tape record)
--Documentation of Face-to-Face Meetings (You should write down what was said at any face-to-face meetings. Following the meeting, send an email to the person or people you met with in order to get the content of the meeting in writing. For instance, “We just met to discuss [insert the purpose of meeting] and you said that I was deficient in…”)
--Tape Recordings of Meetings or Conversations
--Witness Support/Evidence (notarized statements, corroborating testimony, etc.)
--Copies Of Performance Reviews
--Your Personal Logs of Events
--Human Resource Records (your personnel file)
--Corporate Personnel Manual On Policies And Practices
--Corporate Performance Review Guidelines
--Departmental Information (specific procedures, contracts, etc.)
--Organizational Charts and Records (corporate and/or department level)
--Regulations Regarding Workplace Conduct (your company’s anti-harassment policies, anti-discrimination policies, promotion criteria, etc.)
--Federal Law

Nothing is too small or insignificant to save. One sentence of a long email or memo might be crucial to proving a claim that you are making. It’s better to save everything and not need it, than to throw items away and want to smack yourself in the face for making a huge mistake!


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