Understanding Pre-Texts & How They Can Help

When a person is let go from a job, there’s usually an explanation or a reason given for why that person was let go.

Sometimes, that reason is clear, legitimate and honest. But sometimes, it’s not.

When the reason isn’t legitimate, it’s called a “pre-text.” And that can be a sign that the employer is trying to hide the fact that they discriminated.

How Does This Help Me?

In Massachusetts, the Supreme Court has determined that if an employer gives a false reason for terminating or demoting someone, then it is reasonable for a jury to believe that the employer is trying to cover up evidence of their guilt.

If there is evidence of discrimination, and the employer is caught lying about the reasons for their actions, or using a pre-text, then the likely conclusion is that the employer deliberately discriminated.

An attorney helping someone who thinks they’ve been discriminated against knows to look for the signs that happened, and can ask the right questions to find out.

If you think you were discriminated against, it’s important that you know the signs, too – the more you know, the better able you and your attorney will be to win your case!

What is a pre-text?

The simple definition of pre-text is:

a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason

Because almost everyone knows that discrimination is wrong and illegal, no employer is going to say that the discrimination was the reason for a termination – they’re going to make up a reason that sounds good.

That made up reason is a “pre-text” and it’s something that can actually help someone who’s been discriminated against win their case.

8 Common Signs That a Pre-Text Was Used:

Here are 8 common indicators that an employer terminated a person using a pre-text, rather than for a legitimate reason. Click the links to get an explanation and some examples:

1. No Documentation of Performance Issues

2. Attempting to Document Performance Issues After the Termination

3. Failure to Follow Established Company Policies

4. Inconsistent / Arbitrary Application of Policies

5. Contradictory or Inconsistent Reasons for Action

6. Sudden and Intensive Scrutiny

7. Keeping Less-Qualified Co-Workers after a Layoff

8. A “Layoff of One” (aka “Fake Restructuring/Reorganization”)


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