A Louisiana federal district court granted a company’s motion for summary judgment regarding a former employee’s Title VII race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims. Cassimere v. Fastorq LLC. Plaintiff, an African-American male, alleged that during his employment, he was, among other things, issued disciplinary write-ups while non-African American employees were not and that the company retaliated against him for filing an EEOC charge.
The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim because he failed to establish a prima facie case of race discrimination. First, Plaintiff failed to offer evidence that the disciplinary write-ups he received affected the terms and conditions of his employment and therefore failed to establish he suffered an adverse employment action. Further, instances cited by Plaintiff in his EEOC charge to show preferential treatment of Caucasian employees involved completely different alleged violations of company policy. Defendant also presented uncontroverted evidence that the four employees cited held different jobs than Plaintiff. Therefore, Plaintiff was unable to establish that the comparators were similarly situated or treated differently under nearly identical circumstances.
With regard to the retaliation claim, Plaintiff offered only his own conclusory testimony that he was released for filing a complaint. Even though plaintiff was terminated as part of a reduction in force within months of having asserted his complaint, the court ruled that mere temporal proximity “will not always be enough for a prima facie case.”
Many disgruntled former employees file claims against their former employer that have no basis in fact or law. Nevertheless, employers must mount a legal defense to these claims — meritorious or not. In order to be in a position to present the best possible defense it is always recommended that all personnel decisions be supported by legitimate business reasons, and, of course, be documented.