Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, April 14, 2005

1st Circuit - Post Reeves v. Sanderson Analysis of Pretext Evidence

Much has been written and even more has been said (some of both by me) of the problems obtaining summary judgment after the Supreme Court's decision in Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000). Although it may have made it more difficult, in fact summary judgment is still available. This week the 1st Circuit affirmed what it found to be a well reasoned summary judgment opinion, specifically to make the point that mere attacks on an employer's articulated reason for a decision are not sufficient to preclude summary judgment, even post-Reeves.

Noting that both parties agreed plaintiff had established a prima facie case of age discrimination, the Court found the real battle turned over whether his evidence of pretext was sufficient. Alas, for the plaintiff, it was not:

Plaintiff attempts to establish this kind of pretext by firing a spirited volley of some twelve charges, with the hope that the resulting smoke will be considered proof of fire. We consider them carefully but conclude that the smoke dissipates with the firing of each charge.

Ronda-Perez v. Banco Bilbao (4/13/05) [pdf].

A good case for employers and their counsel that summary judgment is not nearly as close to extinction as some would have you believe.

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