Dueling employee associations don’t prove discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has sensibly ruled that the existence of rival professional groups can’t be used to prove that workplace discrimination exists. Had the decision gone the other way, public employers likely would have seen a proliferation of special-interest employee associations.

Recent case: Ronald and Ismael were members of the Bridgeport Hispanic Firefighters’ Association and were terminated from their firefighting jobs for what they agreed were termination-worthy offenses.

Still, they sued, alleging racial discrimination. As evidence, they pointed to the existence of their own association and a rival one—the Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment.

The 2nd Circuit said rival associations aren’t evidence of discrimination. The plaintiffs needed specific facts to show race played a part in their otherwise clearly legitimate terminations. (Morales, et al., v. Rooney, et al., No. 10-1692, 2nd Cir., 2013)

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