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Discrimination may only show up as a pattern 

In a singular case of discrimination, your employer may well have an excuse ready to make it appear that they’re acting fairly. If they fire a Black employee, for instance, they may say that it had nothing to do with race and that they were just underwhelmed with that person’s performance. There are plenty of blanket excuses like this that are hard to deny. After all, at-will employment means that employers don’t even need to have a reason, as long as they’re not breaking the law. 

In these cases, the way to determine whether or not discrimination is happening is often to look for a pattern of behavior. This can be more telling than a singular case. 

When one group is treated unfairly, that’s a problem

For instance, imagine a workplace that has 50 white employees and 25 Black employees. The company has to downsize in a recession. This, on its own, is not illegal. Downsizing happens, and even workers who are good at their jobs get fired. 

But that excuse only really holds up when everyone is treated fairly. Say that the owner has to cut 20 employees. Despite having more white workers on staff, they fire only one. The other 19 workers are African American employees. Was that group of workers really treated fairly, even though they didn’t all lose their jobs and some are still employed? That pattern shows you that things may not be as level as the employer wants you to believe. 

These kinds of discrimination cases can be complex. Make sure you know what legal options you have in a situation like this.