Late last week, the Sixth Circuit decided an employment discrimination lawsuit in favor of the employer in Loyd v. Saint Joseph Mercy Oakland et al.. Apparently, a 52-year-old African-American woman was terminated from her 25-year position as a security guard at a Michigan hospital. The woman first brought charges with her union and then filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The employee alleged that she was discriminated against and terminated because of her sex, race, and age. The hospital argued that she was not fired for any of those reasons, but rather because of a series of violations of the hospital’s policies and practices.
The plaintiff, Anita Loyd, was a security guard for 25 years with the hospital. During her tenure, she was disciplined several times for various infractions. One of these infractions included a 2001 incident when she failed to help restrain a patient. She was subsequently written up.
In 2011, Ms. Loyd was called to a room where a psychiatric patient was residing. The patient was very agitated and was acting in a violent manner. The hospital contends that Ms. Loyd was asked to help restrain the patient to ensure that no one was injured, but Ms. Loyd instead began asking the patient questions. However, Ms. Loyd argues that she did leave the room to inquire about the patient but that she also helped restrain the patient.
The hospital was able to provide certifications from other individuals who witnessed the incident, establishing that its version of the incident was the factually accurate one. Ms. Loyd was subsequently terminated after this incident for violating the hospital’s policies. Ms. Loyd’s position was first offered to a Caucasian male, but he declined the offer. It was then offered to and accepted by a 39-year-old African-American woman.
Ms. Loyd attempted to file a grievance with her union, but her termination was still found to be valid. She then filed a suit with the EEOC, claiming that the hospital terminated her because of her sex, age, and race.
The court found that Ms. Loyd could not prove the elements of discrimination, and even if she could, she did not establish that she was qualified for the position she was holding at the time of her termination.
To bring a claim of discrimination, an employee must show that the employer was treating him or her differently because of his or her race, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, or religion.
The employee must first show that he or she is a member of one of the “protected classes” mentioned above. He or she must then show direct evidence or circumstantial evidence of discrimination.
Direct evidence generally includes actual statements or obvious actions by your employer indicating that they are discriminating against you. Circumstantial evidence is harder to establish, and you must show that:
- You are a member of one of the protected classes;
- You were qualified for the position you were holding;
- A negative action was taken against you; and
- You were replaced by someone not in your class.
It is important to have a skilled attorney to assist you in gathering the evidence needed to establish these necessary elements.
In the above case, the plaintiff did not win because the court found that, although she was a member of a protected class, she was not qualified for her position. This was likely because she was found to be disciplined for the same infraction several times. If a discharged employee has not been warned or formally disciplined, his or her chances of succeeding are greater. Similarly, if a discharged employee is replaced by an individual in the same classification, the likelihood of success is less likely.
Have You Been Discriminated Against by Your Employer?
If you or a loved one has been discriminated against by your employer, and you think it may be because of your race, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, or color, you should contact our office at 502-583-2300. You may be eligible for compensatory damages for the pain and suffering you endured and your lost wages. Miller & Falkner attorneys serve both Kentucky and Indiana residents. Our dedicated attorneys will be able to provide you with a free initial consultation regarding your employment discrimination matter.
Seventh Circuit Overturns Lower Court Ruling on Indiana Title VII Prison Case, Kentucky Employment Lawyer Blog, August 8, 2014.
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