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Practical Tips for Investigating Discrimination Complaints. Susan Hutton, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor Laura Stomski, U.S. Department of Labor, Civil Rights Center. Developing and organizing a plan for investigation.
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Susan Hutton, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor
Laura Stomski, U.S. Department of Labor, Civil Rights Center
The key to conducting an effective investigation is to organize your thoughts and develop a plan before you start interviewing witnesses, reviewing the evidence, and drafting the investigative report.
Ms. Garcia was laid-off from her position as a housekeeper for the Ocean Motel. She speaks Spanish fluently and some English. She applied for unemployment benefits, but her request was denied.
Categories of Discrimination
(applies to Religion and Disability)
Complainant’s Burden to Prove:
Member of a protected category
Nexus to their protected category
Treated differently from someone similarly situated
If provider or employer provides a legitimate non-discriminatory reason, the claimant must establish that the provider's or employer's reason was pretext to mask the unlawful discrimination.
In other words, the complainant must show the stated justification was not the real justification, but was used to cover up the discriminatory conduct or decision.
What do we need to ask Ms. Garcia?
ASK: Who, What, When, Where, and How?
Example: Describe what happened when you went to the to the Career Center?
Ms. Garcia went to the Career Center with her 12 year old son, Luis. Initially, she spoke with Ms. Martinez, a bilingual receptionist. Ms. Martinez referred Ms. Garcia to Mr. Jones, an employment specialist, who only spoke English. He gave Ms. Garcia some forms to complete and also asked her to enter some information online using one of the Career Center’s computers.
Ms. Garcia said she had great difficulty understanding Mr. Jones and requested if someone who spoke Spanish could help her. Mr. Jones told her that no one was available to assist her. Luis tried to assist with the written forms and entering information online. Several weeks later, Ms. Garcia received a letter, in English, denying her request for benefits.