In an employment case, like many cases, a witness’s credibility is important to winning a case. Your supervisor, or a co-employee, makes an obnoxious sexual comment to you or makes some statement indicating hostility toward you based on your medical condition, your race or your national origin.
If you are forced to litigate an employment discrimination claim against your employer, how likely do you think it is that anyone other than you is going to remember the comment 1-2 years after it was made when witnesses in your cases (including the speaker of the discriminatory comment) are being interviewed (or deposed) in preparation for trial?
The answer is: unlikely. Memories fade. Moreover, speakers of discriminatory comments have no incentive to remember saying them. Witnesses who continue to draw their paychecks from the employer who discriminated against you likewise often do not wish to be perceived as “testifying against” their employer. It is much easier for such witnesses to say, “I don’t recall.”
For these reasons, employment discrimination cases frequently turn into credibility contests. Does the jury believe you, or does it believe the employer’s witnesses?
Your credibility will be enhanced if you just do a couple of things when you are being subjected to the discriminatory acts or comments.
1. Tell your friends and family. If you can produce witnesses who will testify that you reported the discriminatory acts or comments to them at the time you were being subjected to them, such testimony makes you more credible.
2. Keep contemporaneous notes describing the acts or comments. If you can produce a note that you made at the time of the act or comment describing what was said or done and by whom, such documents will make you more believable to a jury than a witness who simply denies that the act or comment ever occurred or states that he or she “doesn’t recall.”
If you believe you are the subject of employment discrimination, you should consult an experienced employment attorney such as one of the attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Call us at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.