Switch to ADA Accessible Website
Orlando Criminal Lawyer

Proving Race Discrimination With Circumstantial Evidence


Proving illegal employment discrimination can be tricky. In many cases there is no “direct” evidence of discrimination–i.e., your boss said you are fired because you are Black. That is why Florida courts permit plaintiffs in these cases to prove discrimination entirely through circumstantial evidence.

The most common way to do this is by satisfying what is known as the McDonnell Douglas framework. (The name comes from a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on this subject.). Essentially, the McDonnell Douglas framework requires the plaintiff to provide circumstantial evidence that they not only belonged to a protected class and suffered an adverse employment action, but that the employer treated “similarly situated” employees outside of that protected class differently. For example, if an employer enforced a particular employment policy more harshly against Black employees than non-Black employees, that would satisfy the test.

Alternatively, a plaintiff can present a “convincing mosaic” of circumstantial evidence that shows the employer had a “discriminatory intent.” Here, the legal test is whether the evidence presented is sufficient for a jury to “infer” the employer took adverse action based on a legally protected characteristic.

Federal Court Revives White Crane Operator’s Lawsuit Against Black Ex-Supervisor

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed the differences between these two frameworks. In Jenkins v. Nell, the plaintiff worked as a crane operator in Georgia. The plaintiff in this case was actually white. He alleged that his Black supervisor had discriminated against him and other white crane operators.

Basically, the plaintiff felt he was being mistreated by the supervisor. At one point, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the employer’s human resources department. Before the plaintiff could meet with HR, however, he had a separate discussion with the supervisor. That meeting ended with the plaintiff walking away and the supervisor taking the plaintiff off the schedule. The supervisor then told HR that the plaintiff had threatened him, which prompted the employer to fire the plaintiff.

The plaintiff subsequently filed his employment discrimination lawsuit. A federal judge dismissed the case, holding the plaintiff failed to present sufficient circumstantial evidence of race discrimination under the either the McDonnell Douglas or convincing mosaic frameworks. The 11th Circuit partially reversed, holding the plaintiff did present enough to submit a case to the jury under just the convincing mosaic standard.

The McDonnell Douglas standard did not apply, the appellate court said, because the plaintiff could not provide any evidence of a “comparator”–i.e., a Black employee who was treated differently for threatening a supervisor as the plaintiff did. But the convincing mosaic standard does not require a “strict comparator.” Here, the plaintiff did produce evidence from other white crane operators who left the company due to the supervisor’s behavior, as well as racially-biased comments made by the supervisor. This could support an “inference of discrimination,” the 11th Circuit said.

Contact Orlando Civil Rights Lawyer Jose Baez Today

If you have been the victim of any form of race or sex discrimination, it is crucial to seek out legal advice from an experienced Orlando civil rights attorney. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.



  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Miami Office

1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1410
Miami, FL 33131
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111

Orlando Office

250 N Orange Ave, Suite 750
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms
Please review the highlighted fields. They are required.
DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2024 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab Contact Form Tab