Eduardo Padilla, an information technology manager for the North Broward Hospital District, filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit alleging he was laid off because he was Hispanic.
In July 2006, during a regular review of the district’s diversity report, an upper manager noted that Padilla had been classified as white. HR corrected his designation to Hispanic. The managers copied Padilla on their correspondence to maintain transparency.
Three months later, Padilla complained to HR about the change. The department scheduled a meeting, but Padilla was laid off before the meeting date.
In court, the district said two other positions absorbed Padilla’s job, and the layoff was merely based on efficiency. The court agreed, noting that in order to establish discrimination, Padilla had to show he was qualified for another position at the time of termination. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke granted summary judgment for the hospital district, noting, “The defendant certainly cannot be held liable for not considering the plaintiff for a job that never existed.”
The court also dismissed Padilla’s retaliation complaint, ruling that his protest of the district’s diversity report had no good-faith basis and was not protected. “Why should it be ‘protected activity’ for an employee to oppose accurate diversity reporting?” Cooke noted. “The answer: It shouldn’t. And it’s not.”