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It’s got to be more than a hunch! Courts nix unsupported bias claims

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Good news for employers fighting off discrimination claims: Courts are losing patience with lawsuits based on little more than the argument that “it must have been discrimination.”

Many cases are being thrown out of court earlier in the legal process, as soon as it becomes apparent em­­ployees don’t have any direct or circumstantial evidence to back up their allegations.

Recent case: Dr. Sherif Latif is an Arab Egyptian who served a medical residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His supervisors complained about Latif’s poor attitude and work ethic. He failed his last rotation and had to repeat it before finishing the residency.

Based on his performance during the residency, the hospital declined to hire Latif after he finished the schooling.

He sued, alleging that the real reason had to be discrimination based on his ethnicity and national origin. But he had nothing more than his hunch and hearsay from other residents to back up the claim.

That wasn’t good enough. The court tossed out his claim. (Latif v. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, No. 3:11-CV-0104, ND TX, 2011)

Final note: The court did rule that medical residents are both students and employees. As such, they can sue over alleged Title VII violations in their workplace. This is the first time that a Texas federal district court has done so. Medical teaching facilities must treat residents as they do other employees, not just as students.

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