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Proving Glass Ceiling Discrimination in Employment Cases

Some companies have invisible barriers (glass ceiling) that prevent the promotion of some employees to senior positions. An employee can be discriminated against despite being qualified for a job and the chance is given to other employees who are less qualified for a particular role.

Workplace discrimination is typically based on gender, race, marital status, age, and others. So, what should you do if you’re a victim of discrimination? The first step is to contact a labour lawyer in Toronto immediately who will evaluate your case to find out whether you have a valid claim or not. You can then file a claim after consulting a lawyer, but how do you prove glass ceiling discrimination in an employment case?

Proving Glass Ceiling in an Employment Case

Workplace discrimination claims are filed with the EEOC or in courts. Proving that your employer discriminated against you is not easy because your employer will likely use past misconducts to defeat your claim, they could also say that the promoted employees were more qualified than you. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifies the steps to litigating workplace discrimination cases but other federal and state laws may be applicable.


1. The Employee States the Facts of the Claim 

The employee should prove a glass ceiling discrimination claim by showing that:

  • They’re members of a protected class, such as a woman, black-American, Hispanic, and others;
  • They were qualified and had applied for the role;
  • The position remained vacant or was given to an employee with similar qualifications;

2. Employer’s Response

Your employer is required to explain why they didn’t promote you considering you met all the requirements to fill the position. Your employer can simply claim that their decision was independent of you’re the stated claims;Top of Form

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For instance, the employer can also claim that they didn’t promote you because you’re more efficient in your current position and you lacked experience or leadership skills for the applied position.

3. Defeating the Employer’s Claim
You should defend your case if you believe that your employer’s claims, whether they’re legitimate and non-discriminatory, did not influence their decision to promote another person instead of you. In other words, the employee must prove that the cited reasons were fictitious and concocted to conceal the real reason. You can prove this by:

  • Demonstrating that you’re more qualified than the preferred candidate;
  • Employees of non-protected classes were treated differently (better);
  • Employer’s inconsistent reasons (shifting goalposts);
  • Demonstrating that the employer promoted another person illegally;

A preponderance of the presented evidence will influence the court’s decision to declare your employer guilty of discrimination for not considering your application.

4. Remedies for Glass Ceiling (Promotion) Discrimination

The potential remedies for glass ceiling discrimination lawsuits depend on the specifics of the filed case. The remedies for glass ceiling discrimination according to Title VII include:

  • Back pay;
  • Compensatory damages, including emotional anguish damages and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in job searches, medical expenses, and more.
  • Punitive damages;
  • Being given the denied position;
  • Litigation costs, such as lawyer’s fees and expert witness’s fees.

What are legitimate reasons for not promoting an employee?

If your employer failed to promote you, it does not mean the employer did so based on your membership in a protected class. There are legitimate reasons not to promote someone.

Common Reasons for Glass Ceiling Discrimination

The common reasons for glass ceiling discrimination are:

  • Lacking the required qualities or qualifications;
  • Lack of enough experience for a particular role;
  • Other candidates are more qualified;
  • Poor performance record in your current position;
  • Lack of commitment;
  • Poor track record;
  • Previous cases of indiscipline;
  • Physical disability that can impact job performance.

The above reasons can be cited and used as a pretense to cover up the real reason for promotion discrimination but with an experienced and competent legal team, the real reason can be revealed and you may be eligible for damages.

Other Forms of Workplace Discriminations

Employment discrimination could occur in any number of situations, including:

  • Preferring some candidates over others in job recruitment;
  • Excluding qualified employees during recruitment;
  • Compensation or benefits denial;
  • Different salaries for employees working in the same position and with similar qualifications;
  • Denying the use of essential facilities of a company;
  • Seeking sexual favors;

Top Qualities of a Labour Lawyer

The top qualities of a labour lawyer include:

1. Great Communication Skills

The primary duty of a lawyer is to convince the court and the defense that their client is innocent even when they’re guilty. This will not happen if their communication skills are wanting and it may even land their clients into more problems.

2. Knowledgeable

Lawyers attend law school for legal knowledge followed by an internship to gain experience, and there’s no way round about this. You must ascertain a lawyer has the necessary qualifications to legally represent your case.

Proving promotion discrimination is technical and requires the experience of an expert. Consulting a legal professional can help you protect your claim.

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