Best, Top employment lawyer answers: Do I have a case for wrongful termination? Can employers discipline Black workers differently? What should I do if women are being disciplined more harshly for the same violations?
One of the common arguments that our employment discrimination lawyers get from opposing attorneys is that the employer had a good reason for its employment action – be it firing, demoting, or refusing to hire our client. Our attorneys argue it is gender discrimination, race discrimination, age discrimination, nation origin discrimination, etc. The employer’s lawyer responds by pointing to conduct that violates company policy. For example, we say that John was wrongfully terminated based on disability discrimination, and the employer’s attorney responds by arguing that John got in a fight with another employee or fell asleep on the job.
So what happens next? The employee can still has many ways to still win. Obviously, if there is evidence that the employer’s reasons are not true, the court will deny motions to dismiss and let the case be heard by a jury.
But, what if the employer’s accusations are true? What if John really did get in a fight or fall asleep? Does he lose his case? Not necessarily. There is another stage of evaluations. For example, if similarly situated employees – co-workers who committed similar offense – fall outside the protected class (race, gender, age, disability, etc.) and were treated better, there is a good case for employment discrimination. For example, if a Black employee gets fired for being late punching in twice, but a White employee only gets a verbal warning, there is a good case for wrongful termination even though the Black employee violated the policy. The critical thing is that in such cases, there is a question of fact, which means that the Court should not dismiss it as a matter of law and should allow the case to go to a jury. Because both sides face a lot of risk when taking an employment discrimination case to a jury, most cases will settle. This means, that even where an employee has undisputedly violated company rules, the employee should have an employment discrimination attorney evaluate his or her potential case.
A recent news article on race discrimination provides a great example. William Grimes, who is African-American, worked as a building guard for Allegheny County until 2004 when asked a female coworker, “Does size count?” Clearly, this is a violation of workplace sexual harassment rules. At the time, Grimes did not challenge his termination. Years pass and in 2008, Grimes reapplies with the County to be a prison guard. But, because the County refuses to rehire Grimes citing his sexual harassment conduct. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable act on the part of the employer. However, Grimes files a lawsuit asserting that White employees who committed more serious misconduct were not treated as harshly and became eligible for rehire. Because of the questions of fact, this case was headed to a jury until the County agreed to settle for $80,000. The starting salary for an Allegheny County correctional officer is $54,000.
If you have been fired, discriminated against based on your race, national origin, gender, religion age or disability; or denied wages; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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