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Showing 3 posts in Pretext.

Seventh Circuit: Employer’s Shifting Explanations for Termination Suggest Pregnancy Discrimination

Employers take heed: in a decision issued earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that an employer’s varying explanations for terminating a pregnant employee indicated possible discrimination, even though the multiple explanations given were only slightly different. The case serves as a reminder that, when terminating an employee, absolute consistency is critical. By providing multiple reasons for a disciplinary decision — even multiple reasons that are almost the same — an employer would needlessly expose itself to discrimination claims. More ›

D.C. Circuit Demonstrates the Danger of poor Documentation

In a decision released this week, the D.C. Circuit has proven that there is still truth to the old adage: document, document, document. The case, Hamilton v. Geithner, arose when a federal employee was passed over for a promotion. The begrudged employee felt that he had been far more qualified than the employee selected for the position. He brought suit against the IRS (his employer) under Title VII, calling its assertion that the selected employee had been more qualified a pretext, and alleging that the other employee (a Caucasian female) had actually been selected over him (an African-American male) based upon his race and gender. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer, finding that the disparity in the employees’ qualifications was “not significant enough to warrant an inference of discrimination.” More ›

Tenth Circuit Finds no Pretext in the Termination of an Employee who was the Subject of 23 Reported Complaints

An African-American male worked as a technician for 10 years. During that time, he was the subject of 23 reported complaints from co-workers and supervisors, including five complaints of sexual harassment. The employer performed an investigation based on the complaints, which resulted in the employee’s termination. The investigation revealed that the employee had received many final warnings and should have been terminated much earlier. After being fired, the employee sued, alleging that the employer discriminated against him based on his race and retaliated against him for complaining about the lack of African-Americans in management. The employee argued that his long disciplinary history was proof that his inappropriate behavior could not have been the motivation for his termination and must have been pretext for discriminatory and retaliatory motives. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the employee’s claims and held that the employer’s discipline of the employee, including his termination, was coherent, consistent and lawful. Employers should be sure to have a coherent, progressive disciplinary policy that is applied consistently to all employees. Such a policy will serve as a valuable defense should claims of discrimination or retaliation arise after an employee has been disciplined.

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