Monday, June 21, 2010

Label and Describe the Importance of Your Evidence

If you’ve reached the point where you feel it’s necessary to file a complaint or grievance regarding racially based discrimination, harassment, retaliation or bullying at your workplace, it’s important that you compile your evidence in a logical fashion that makes it easy for a 3rd party to understand your complaint. As you compile your evidence, please remember that you should never make assumptions about what someone will and won’t understand. Don’t assume that an investigator or an attorney will be able to look at an email or memo and quickly be able to ascertain why this information is relevant and critical to your case.

REMEMBER: When you initially speak to an investigator or an attorney, they know nothing about your complaint and they may even be clueless about your company, your industry or even the nature of your job. This is especially true if you are in a job that many people may not be familiar with or if you are in a job that has a rather complicated sounding title. So, you should focus on simplifying the information you are presenting to 3rd parties by providing clear explanations for why the evidence is being submitted, why it’s important/what it means, and how it ties in to your evidence, as a whole.

One way to do this is to label each piece of evidence with a brief statement about the relevance of the item and why the document is important. I recommend typing up an explanation of your evidence using the label making function of your computer software program. Then, simply print the information on a peel and stick label that can physically be attached to the front or back of your evidence.

Large shipping labels provide a substantial amount of space to make your notations. Be sure to include your name, case number (if you’ve been assigned one), and to number/catalogue each item being presented, in case your evidence becomes separated from your overall complaint.

As much as possible, include your evidence in chronological/date order, unless you feel there is another way of compiling your evidence that makes more sense. For example, you may decide that you want to group emails together, memos and other documentation in another section, etc. If your evidence is broken into sections, label your evidence appropriately.

For example, Item #1, Section A – Harassing Email or Item #1, Section B – Threats to My Job Security, Item #1 or Section C – Tangible Employment Actions (Proof of Demotion Without Basis, Proof of Being Denied a Promotion for a Discriminatory Motives, etc. ). Here’s an example of what the text might look like on a label:

Jenna Doe – Case Number 12-345A: Item #1, Section A –Harassing Email – Dated January 1, 2005, 10:35 am – Sent from Jane Doe, Immediate Supervisor.

Description –This is an email from my supervisor, which is offensive, contains false allegations, and was sent to a group of managers who assign staff to project work. The purpose of the email was to falsely criticize my job performance and create problems for me in finding work assignments. After this email was sent, I was denied work on a project that had been promised to me by another manager and I was told that the allegations in the email would prevent me from being promoted at the end of the year. I was threatened with termination, if I did not improve my work.

NOTE: ALWAYS INCLUDE THE IMPACT AND RELEVANCE OF ACTIONS IN YOUR DESCRIPTION (the secion in bold, above). Shrink your font, if you need to, but make sure the print is not excessively small.


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