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“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” The American legal system allows individuals to represent themselves in court. This practice is called acting pro se. Our lawyers have blogged regularly to warn employees about the complexities employment discrimination laws and the problems that employees may face if they attempt to go it alone.

The latest cautionary tale comes from Bayat v. Accenture Corporation LLC, No. 22-1275, 2023 WL 3563037 (2d Cir. May 19, 2023), in which Atila Bayat, proceeding pro se, sued his employer for race, national origin and age discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment decisions because of an employee’s race/color, gender, national origin, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Likewise, age discrimination is prohibited under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”); and age discrimination. These laws also prevent an employer from retaliating against an employee who report, opposes, or participates into an investigation relating to discrimination or harassment.

Employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims can be proved by either direct evidence or indirect evidence. For indirect evidence claims, courts will use what is called the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework to determine if the claims survive. According to the McDonnell Douglas framework, as established by the United States Supreme Court, the employee must initially establish a prima facie case of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. If the employee can do so, the burden shifts to the employer to present a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the challenged conduct, which is a very nominal burden. If the employer successfully demonstrates such a reason, the burden reverts back to the employee to prove that the given justification was merely a pretext, which means that the given reason was not true, was insufficient to justify the action taken, or did not really motivate the employer.

To establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, the employee must demonstrate through admissible evidence the following elements: (1) being a member of a protected class, (2) possessing the necessary qualifications for the position held, (3) experiencing an adverse employment action, and (4) the adverse action occurring under circumstances that suggest discrimination.

Bayat could not do so. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held: “he proffered no evidence to show that he was ‘qualified for the position[s]’ for which he applied. The record reflects that Bayat sought roles that were above his seniority level, that required skills that Bayat did not possess, and that were outside of Bayat’s ‘daily commutable distance.’” Id. at *2 (citations omitted). It is not discrimination for choosing not to promote employees who do not have the skills or qualifications for the job.

Best Race Discrimination Lawyer Blogs on Point:

Can I sue if I’m Black and my job promoted a white person instead of me?

Maybe. While that sounds like a very good start to a case evaluation, it is only the start. There are a lot of things to factually and legally consider before pursuing a claim for race discrimination – other any other type of employment discrimination for that matter. To find out if you may have a wrongful termination or failure to promote claim, you really should call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?). Call our top employment lawyers in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Kentucky to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.

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This employment law website is an advertisement. The race, gender, LGBT, national origin, disability and age discrimination and harassment information at the top of this page and on this wrongful termination and failure to promote employment discrimination website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. To get specific legal advice, you  should contact our top attorneys to obtain advice with respect to any particular employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.


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