Kentucky is an employment-at-will state and does not provide a legal right for all unjust or unfair treatment of employees. For an employee to have a valid claim against a current or former employer, the employer’s conduct must either breach a written or oral agreement or violate a federal or Kentucky employment law.
Federal and Kentucky discrimination law affords employees protection from several kinds of discrimination:
- Sex discrimination
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Race discrimination
- National origin discrimination
- Religious discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Age discrimination (40 or older)
We get many calls from employees who feel they have been discriminated against, but have not been terminated, passed up for a promotion or otherwise tangibly harmed. To have a viable case for any type of employment discrimination, an employer must take some adverse employment action against an employee, which must be motivated in whole or part of an employee’s protected class status (e.g. sex, age, race, national origin, etc.). Because motivation is a question of intent, it is rare that there is direct evidence of the employer’s discriminatory mindset. In other words, an employer seldom says, “I did not promote Joan because she is a Mormon.” Instead circumstantial evidence often must be used to prove intent.
Certain types of evidence can help make a strong case of employment discrimination under Kentucky law. Evidence that the employer treated other employees differently than those in a protected class or that derogatory comments were directed at the employee’s protected class status by one of the employers’ decision-makers, or the employer replaced the discharged employee with someone outside the discharged employee’s protected class.