Top Rated Employment Law Office Serving Costa Mesa, California
Stephen Danz and Associates represents employees throughout California. Our attorneys cover cities in Northern California and Southern California as the State’s courts are as specialized and diverse as the landscape. In Costa Mesa, California, our counselors are highly specialized in handling complex employment lawsuits where private individuals trust us to bring forth their cases in local, state and federal courts. Contact us for a complimentary consultation via our online form or call our office.
Disparate Treatment Cases
In a disparate treatment cases, one of the most common types of employment discrimination in California, a plaintiff must prove that the employer acted with a conscious intent to discriminate against him or her. If you experience such behavior by your employer, contact one of our attorneys for guidance. The complaint only needs to contain a short and plan statement of your claim showing that you are entitled to relief.
In employment discrimination cases under Title VII, if the defendant employer tries to have the case thrown out by moving for summary judgment, we recommend that the plaintiff respond by either (1) using the burden-shifting framework established by McDonnell Douglas or (2) producing direct or indirect evidence demonstrating that a discriminatory reason more likely than not motivated the defendant. This is not as difficult of a threshold to prove in comparison to other types of cases.
Specifically, the burden-shifting framework established by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas, is “a tool to assist plaintiffs at the summary judgment stage so that they may reach trial.” It is used in cases where the plaintiff faces challenges in proving the employer’s intent to discriminate.
McDonnell Douglas Burden-Shifting Test
Under McDonnell Douglas, which is the standard for employment discrimination cases, the plaintiff has the initial burden of establishing a case of discrimination. If the plaintiff accomplishes that step, a rebuttable presumption arises (which means it is a presumption that can be rebutted) that the defendant unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff, and the burden then shifts to the defendant to prove that there was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the challenged employment action. If the defendant achieves this step, the presumption disappears, and the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s proffered reason is pretextual, “either directly by persuading the court that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the employer or indirectly by showing that the employer’s proffered explanation is unworthy of credence.” Please note that the ultimate burden of persuading the Judge and/or Jury that the defendant intentionally unlawfully discriminated remains with the plaintiff.
Wrongful termination or other Unlawful Adverse Action Matters
When representing plaintiffs that allege wrongful termination or another type of unlawful adverse employment action such as demotion or unfair/unreasonable transfer, we aim to establish on behalf of the plaintiff the following:
(1) Plaintiff is a member of a protected class;
(2) Plaintiff was qualified for his or her position or performed his or her job satisfactorily;
(3) Plaintiff was discharged or experienced adverse employment actions; and
(4) Plaintiff was replaced by someone outside plaintiff’s protected class or, in non-termination cases, a similarly-situated individual outside plaintiff’s protected class was treated more favorably; or
Other circumstances surrounding the termination or adverse employment action gave rise to an inference of discrimination.
Failure to Promote Cases
When representing plaintiffs in “Failure to Promote” cases, plaintiff must show the following:
(1) Plaintiff is a member of a protected class;
(2) Plaintiff applied for and was qualified for the open position;
(3) Plaintiff was rejected; and
(4) The employer continued to consider other applicants whose qualifications were comparable to the plaintiff’s or filled the position with someone outside the protected class at issue.
However, the employer/defendant in a disparate treatment case can challenge the presumption of intentional discrimination that arises from the plaintiff’s case by articulating a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employer/defendant’s adverse employment action.
To create a valid issue of fact for trial, the plaintiff must show that the reason argued by the employer for the adverse action was not the true reason, but merely pretext or a cover up excuse for discrimination. Then, the plaintiff’s burden of showing pretext “merges with the ultimate burden of persuading the court that the plaintiff has been the victim of intentional discrimination.”
NOTE: Plaintiff is not required to produce additional evidence at this point if the evidence backing his or her case is sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding the truth of the defendant’s argument for the adverse employment action.
A plaintiff can show pretext in one of two ways:
(1) directly, by evidence that unlawful discrimination more likely motivated the employer, or
(2) indirectly, by indirect evidence that the employer’s explanation is “unworthy of credence” because it is internally inconsistent or otherwise not believable.
A plaintiff can establish pretext using a combination of these two kinds of evidence. Also, all the evidence presented by the plaintiff, including evidence submitted in support of the case, is considered together.
Direct evidence is evidence that, if believed by the judge or jury, proves the fact of the employer’s intentional discrimination without the need to inference or presumption.
Circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an inferential step to demonstrate discrimination.