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Both sides swear to conflicting versions of truth? Prepare to make your case to a jury

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in Human Resources

It could happen: Several former employees get together to sue you over alleged discrimination.

Their complaint is full of outrageous, obviously false statements. You have the sworn affidavits contradicting their claims. A court should have no trouble deciding to toss out such a case, right?

Maybe not. Judges don’t like having to decide the credibility of people who swear in pre-trial motions that entirely different things happened. They would much rather have a jury make that call.

Recent case: Luis Cabrera and several former co-workers at Goodyear Tire & Rubber alleged that they had been subjected to ugly harassment on account of their national origin as Cuban Americans. They claimed they had been told they should “go back to Cuba” and that Cubans are “stupid” and “lazy.”

Goodyear prepared sworn affidavits in which they explained that the former employees had been fired for various legitimate reasons such as insubordination. In addition, Goodyear swore that the Cuban employees had in fact been the ones doing the harassing, calling their Honduran and Nicaraguan supervisors “arrow throwers” and “fat.”

The company asked the court to toss out the case as frivolous and to make the ex-employees pay fines.

But the court refused. It reasoned that when two sides swear to a different version of events, the only way to settle who is telling the truth is through a trial. (Cabrera, et al., v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, No. 10-21226, SD FL, 2011)

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