Here’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your chances of losing a race discrimination lawsuit: Make sure the same person or group who chose to hire an employee in the first place also makes the decision to terminate her.
That makes it much harder for the employee to show she was fired for a discriminatory reason, since presumably those who would hire someone from a protected class wouldn’t then turn around and fire her because she belongs to that protected class.
Recent case: Attorney Venus Springs went to work in the Charlotte office of Mayer Brown, an international law firm. Two managing partners made the decision to hire Springs, who is black.
Springs, who has two young children, claimed that when she was hired, she was promised that she could work from home during after-school hours. She said she was also told her pro bono volunteer legal work would count toward the minimum hours the firm required before awarding bonuses.
Instead, she was terminated a little over a year later, based on the assessment of the same two managing partners. They said Springs had lost their confidence, as well as that of clients.
Springs sued, alleging race discrimination. She claimed, among other things, that she hadn’t received a bonus and that she was not allowed to continue working from home.
Her suit didn’t get far. First, the court pointed out that she didn’t claim she was treated more poorly than other attorneys who didn’t belong to her protected class. Second—and crucially—the court noted that the same partners who hired her also fired her. It wouldn’t make sense for someone to first hire someone knowing she is black only to then fire her because of her skin color. (Springs v. Mayer Brown, No. 3:09-CV-352, WD NC, 2009)
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