Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, January 25, 2004

White Employee Who Complains About Black Supervisor Survives Summary Judgment

A white employee, Ware, who was vocal about his black supervisor, Smith, to other employees, including making the claim that he was hired only because he was black, was terminated within 10 days of making his complaint to a senior vice president about a "black coalition that was hiring and promoting their friends." In reversing a summary judgment on the retaliation claim, Judge Prado found that the timing alone was enough to shift the burden to CLECO give a legitimate reason. But he found problems with the articulated rationale:
Smith acknowledged that his decision to recommend terminating Ware was based, at least partially, on Ware's attitude towards Smith, and Ware's effect on department morale. These highly subjective judgments, could easily be pretext for retaliation. See Rowe, 457 F.2d at 358. Smith's influence on the decision to fire Ware also contributes to showing a retaliatory motive because Ware had complained to Powell and Scroggs about Smith. See Gee, 289 F.3d at 346. As a result, a genuine issue of material fact exists about whether CLECO retaliated against Ware in violation of Title VII ...
Ware v. CLECO (5th Cir. 1/21/04) (unpublished) [pdf].


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