After a traffic accident, we all know that gathering witnesses is important in later proving liability. It is no less important that employees who believe they have been subject to workplace discrimination take notes, document events, and, if possible, identify witnesses. While this process won’t replace an investigation conducted by a company’s human resources department or the EEOC, gathering this information at the time the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation took place can ensure that when an “official” investigation occurs, it will be done thoroughly.
The following is a helpful list of tips that will give some orientation on how to gather documentation that will aid your case if you decide to hire a wrongful termination lawyer and file a claim.
5 Essential Documentation Guidelines for Workplace Discrimination
- Write down what happened, when, and by whom. Don’t leave out details. If necessary, email this narrative to yourself. Be clear and concise: your notes will form the framework of your discussions with investigators. They may even become evidence in a subsequent arbitration or trial.
- Discrimination doesn’t end at the door of your human resources representative. Document any meeting you have with HR, recording what was said, who said it, and how receptive HR was to your complaints.
- Document anything said to you by any witness. Even if a phrase was innocuous (“Wow, I can’t believe he said that!”) can be important. Witnesses often “forget” what they heard or saw, and recording what they’ve told you will help jog their memory or, possibly, prevent them from backing out of supporting you.
- Don’t leave out details. It’s easy to jot down conclusions (“I was harassed”). That’s not going to help you. Instead, write down what was said or done to you. Where was the person standing? What was his or her tone of voice? What happened just before and after the harassment? Eventually you’ll be asked to recreate the situation, and its better to memorialize as much as you can early on.
- Finally, do not forget to save any and all evidence that has to do with the incident. Email your notes to yourself, or print them out. Keep your hardcopy calendar or make copies of it. If you used your cell phone, keep a copy of the bill to show you made certain calls.
This checklist will be extremely valuable and help ease your case if you decide to obtain a workplace discrimination lawyer.