Severance, termination and discrimination

I was recently laid off from my firm when it made a business decision to shut down our group. The group has been in trouble throughout the year. I was the most successful member of the group, the only one with positive production (I am in money management industry where each person is judged by individuak profit&loss statements). During the course of the year several people who have been bad performers have been asked to leave, however one was give 3 months on the job of doing nothign while searchign for another job, another was offered an opportunity to interview with other groups at the firm to seek alternative employment internally. However, in my case despite being the best performer I was neither give time to llok for anothjer job nor an opportunity to interview internally. Can I claim discrimination charges? I am the only jew in the group (there hasnt been any other explicit discrimination during my employment there but the firm is known with lax policy in terms of tolerating crude language and jokes). Also, does the fact that I was not offered the same chances as others give me leverage in negotiating a better severance package? If so, how shall I proceed?

1 answer  |  asked Oct 13, 2006 9:54 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Making a Preliminary Evaluation of a Case

One of the biggest problems with employment discrimination cases is that employees often don't have the evidence needed to prove their cases, but their employers might. So, attorneys handling discrimination cases often have to make a leap of faith in accepting a case.

Another big problem with discrimination claims is that discrimination claims require the proof of intent. That is, you need to prove, for example, that you were denied an opportunity to find a new job in another department because the person making the decision to deny you that benefit did so because of that person's opinions about Jews. Whenever you have to prove intent, you are basically required to climb into someone's head to prove what they are thinking. That is a very hard thing to do.

There is also a distinction between establishing a claim of discrimination, and having evidence of discrimination. The fact that you were the only Jew in the department might be considered to be evidence of discrimination, but that fact alone does not establish discrimination. If that were all there is, you would likely lose a discrimination claim.

Whenever someone asks me to consider their case, the basic question I ask is: What causes you to believe their is discrimination here? How were you treated differently? Is there anything that you were excluded from? Is their anything that you were required to do that was not normally required of anyone else? What was said? What was done? And, remember, little things might say a lot when you're talking about a possible discrimination claim.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Oct 16, 2006 11:35 AM [EST]

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