The New York Human Rights Law, like Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, makes it illegal to fire an employee because of his or her race. Both laws also recognize that it’s unlikely that a manager who is aware of an employee’s race when hiring would turn around and fire the same employee because of race.
This is the so-called “same-actor” rule. To take advantage of the rule’s presumption of nondiscrimination, it is a good idea to have the same supervisor or manager who did the hiring also do the firing if it becomes necessary.
Recent case: The Felix Roma Bakery’s production manager hired John Wallmar-Rodriguez. The manager knew Wallmar-Rodriguez was Hispanic when he hired him.
Apparently, he didn’t know Wallmar-Rodriguez had a bad temper. After issuing many warnings about shouting matches, fist fights and the like, the manager fired Wallmar- Rodriguez.
The employee sued, alleging violation of both Title VII and the New York Human Rights Law. But the court concluded that the “same-actor” rule applied, and it dismissed the case.
The court concluded that it made no sense for the same man who hired Wallmar-Rodriguez to turn around and fire him because of his race. Instead, the court found the reason offered—inability to get along with others—was genuine and not a cover-up for race discrimination. (Wallmar-Rodriguez v. Felix Roma Bakery, No. 05-CV-0111, ND NY, 2007)
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- More than just paper: Sexual harassment policy won't work without supervisor training
- Terminated employees staging protest? Consider suing to force them to stop
- Use greater experience, extra skills to justify why you pay some employees more than others