Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

5th Cir. Not Always A Haven for Employers; Or Another Bad Day for Haggar - Or Both?

The Plaintiffs bar frequently laments the barriers of the the 5th Circuit, but it is not always a burial ground for employee's complaints. Today, the 5th Circuit re-instated a jury's age discrimination verdict, reversing the trial court's granting of judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The unfortunate defendant in this case was Haggar, which as I noted a couple of weeks ago, has not fared all that well in the court house. In Palasota v. Haggar Clothing Co. (5th Cir. 9/3/03) [pdf], the Court faulted the district court for not giving enough weight to remarks by management relative to age, instead passing them off to stray remarks. It also noted that the court should have given more weight to the EEOC determination of cause based on a 2 1/2 year investigation. All in all, while plaintiffs and their counsel would probably appreciate reversals of summary judgments against them, no doubt they are happy to see that when they do get to trial, and do get a verdict, that the 5th Circuit will be supportive if in fact their is evidence in the record. Of course, learning that same lesson is important for employers and their counsel as well.

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