Image of Can I use evidence of how my employer treats my coworkers to help prove my employment discrimination case?

Can I use evidence of how my employer treats my coworkers to help prove my employment discrimination case?

In glass ceiling, promotion discrimination, and harassment cases, an important source of information is often the way in which the company has treated other employees.

For example, in a race discrimination glass ceiling/promotion discrimination case, if the company has rejected a dozen qualified, African-American candidates for the same high-level position while promoting less qualified white employees, this conduct arguably sheds light on the company’s mindset in making these decisions.

Or in a sex harassment case, if your supervisor has also harassed other female employees, this is evidence you want the jury to hear.

Why is this important evidence?

In some cases, the employer may be blatant enough in their discrimination that they make explicit statements:  “We didn’t promote you because you’re a woman and we didn’t think you could handle the job.”  This is known as “direct evidence” of discrimination and it is relatively rare for an employer to be this transparent in its motives.

More often, employees must rely on circumstantial evidence of discrimination and one valuable kind of circumstantial evidence is how the company treats its other employees.

Generally the way other employees have been treated by the company “is relevant to the issue of the [company’s] discriminatory intent.” Calobrisi v. Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., 660 Fed.Appx. 207, 210 (4th Cir. 2016).

Key takeaways

To determine if you can use evidence about how your company treats other employees, consider:

  • are these employees of the same protected class (race, gender, etc.) as you?
  • does the way the company treated these employees help corroborate your claim and/or show a pattern of discrimination?
  • how similar are these employees to you:  do they do the same job, have the same supervisor, and were they treated in the same way?
  • did the discrimination the other employee suffered happen relatively closed in time to your discrimination?

Law Firm Combatting Discrimination Among Executives and Senior Professionals

SEC whistleblower lawyers

Hiring a proven and effective advocate is critical to obtaining the maximum recovery in an employment discrimination case.  Eric Bachman, Chair of the Firm’s Discrimination Practice, has substantial experience litigating precedent-setting individual and class action discrimination cases.   His wins include a $100 million settlement in a disparate impact Title VII class action and a $16 million class action settlement against a major grocery chain.

Bachman writes frequently on topics related to promotion discrimination, harassment, and other employment discrimination issues at the Glass Ceiling Discrimination Blog.

U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have named Zuckerman Law a Tier 1 firm in Litigation – Labor and Employment in the Washington DC metropolitan area.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you.  To schedule a free confidential consultation, click here or call us at 202-769-1681 or 202-262-8959.

Click here to see our videos answering frequently asked questions about discrimination and retaliation.


Eric Bachman litigates employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation cases. He can be reached at (202) 769-1681 and [email protected]. Bachman is Chair of the discrimination and retaliation Practices at Zuckerman Law. Previously, Bachman served as Special Litigation Counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and a Deputy Special Counsel with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.