Philadelphia Employment Law News

Pretext Can Make or Break an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

What is "pretext" in an employment discrimination case?

This is an important concept that comes up in any case. If you think you have an employment discrimination case, you need to think long and hard as to whether there was pretext.

Pretext could make or break your case.

But what is pretext?

In any employment discrimination case, you need to establish that you were wronged because of your race, gender or other reason that merits protection.

The first step is to show that you suffered an adverse job action.

So, for example, you were demoted.

The next step would be to show that others in the same situation as you were not demoted. In fact, you could do one better if you can show that someone of a different race (assuming you're alleging race discrimination) was promoted.

Now, the case turns to the employer. Did the employer have pretext when demoting you?

In short, was your demotion due to your race?

This is a tough bar.

Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania court looked at this issue.

The case involved an African American male who was working at Teva Pharmaceuticals as a salesman.

His supervisors found his work to be unsatisfactory. He was put on one of those "plans" and eventually let go.

Now, "those plans" can be a real problem when it comes to pretext.

The Philadelphia-based appeals court found that Teva showed that this man's firing was due to bad performance and not because he was African American.

Once an employer puts you on a plan, you should start firing up your resume. But the plan is a great tool for the employer to document your performance and to show that you couldn't quite cut it.

If you find yourself put on one of those "plans," then you need to start documenting everything you do. Keep copies of your work. Do everything in writing so that you can document that you did a good job.

You'll need these and more to establish pretext.

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