Discrimination cases are all about motives. That’s especially true when an employee loses his job and alleges that the real reason for his discharge was racism or some other form of bias.
One simple way to deflect discrimination charges is to make sure that the same person who made the termination decision also had a direct hand in either the original hiring decision or subsequent promotions. It’s hard to argue that the same person who decided to hire or promote an employee despite race, sex, disability or another protected characteristic, turned around and fired that employee because of that very characteristic.
Recent case: Troy Cordell, who is black, worked as a store manager for Verizon Wireless. The company promoted Cordell after a supervisory team agreed he was the right person to run the store.
Cordell then allowed his mother to come into the store and upgrade her cell phone even though her account was not yet eligible. He used his managerial authority to approve the service, although company rules clearly said he should not do so for a relative. The same managers who had promoted Cordell decided to fire him.
Cordell sued, but the court tossed out the case. It reasoned that there was no direct evidence of discrimination. And because the same managers who promoted him also fired him, there was no indirect evidence either. It made no sense to the court that the people who promoted Cordell wanted to get rid of him because of his race. (Cordell v. Verizon Wireless, No. 05-CV-6703, WD NY, 2008)
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