Best Ohio Gender Discrimination Lawyer Help: Can I sue for wrongful termination if my boss lied and said I was fired for something I didn’t do? Is it gender discrimination if my male co-workers get away with things that I get in trouble for! Can my manager treat me unfairly because I’m a woman?
Seriously, one of our new clients told our employment discrimination attorneys that her boss told this joke in front of her to a crowd of other employees: “Why did the woman cross the road? I don’t know, what was she doing out of the kitchen?” Does your boss ormanager think jokes like this are funny? Does your supervisor make comments stereotyping women? These are all signs that you may be experiencing sex discrimination at work. As our employment discrimination attorneys have previously blogged about, Ohio law – in Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02 – and federal law – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provide legal protections against employment discrimination based on gender. That means an employer cannot treat employees differently or terminate an employee because of their gender. (See Can I Be Fired Because I Complained About Discrimination?; Can My Boss Discriminate Against Me When I Get Pregnant?; Can I Be Turned Down For A Job Because I’m Hispanic, Black, Or A Woman?)
The United States District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania recently examined this issue in Hersh v. Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company. The Court explained just how a gender discrimination case is made:
To bring a successful claim under Title VII, a plaintiff must prove that “an employer has `treated [a] particular person less favorably than others because of’ a protected trait . . . [and] `that the defendant had a discriminatory intent or motive’. . . .” Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 577 (2009) (first alteration in original) (quoting Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U.S. 977, 985-986 (1988)). In the absence of direct evidence of discriminatory intent, none of which is available in this case, Title VII discrimination claims are analyzed under the burden-shifting framework established by McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). See Kant v. Seton Hall Univ., 289 F. App’x. 564, 566 (3d Cir. 2008).
“Under McDonnell Douglas, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of demonstrating a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination. . . .” Dellapenna v. Tredyffrin/Easttown Sch. Dist., 449 F. App’x 209, 213 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802). In order to establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination, a plaintiff must ordinarily “show that: (1) she was a member of a protected class; (2) she was qualified for the position; (3) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) members of the opposite sex were treated more favorably.” Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 426 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Hugh v. Butler Cnty. Family YMCA, 418 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 2005)). A plaintiff may, however, “also meet the last element by showing that the adverse employment action `occurred under circumstances that could give rise to an inference of intentional discrimination.’” Id. (quoting Makky v. Chertoff, 541 F.3d 205, 214 (3d Cir. 2008)).
Once the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of discrimination, “`the burden of production shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its decision.’” Dellapena, 449 F. App’x at 213 (quoting McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802). “This burden is `relatively light’ and is satisfied if the employer provides evidence, which, if true, would permit a conclusion that it took the adverse employment action for a non-discriminatory reason.” Burton, 707 F.3d at 426 (quoting Tomasso v. Boeing Co., 445 F.3d 702, 706 (3d Cir. 2006), and citing Lichtenstein v. Univ. of Pittsburgh Med. Ctr., 691 F.3d 294, 302 (3d Cir. 2012)). “At this stage, `the defendant need not prove that the articulated reason actually motivated its conduct.’” Id. (quoting Shellenberger v. Summit Bancorp, Inc., 318 F.3d 183, 189 (3d Cir. 2003)).
If the defendant meets its burden, “the burden of production [shifts] back to the plaintiff to provide evidence from which a factfinder could reasonably infer that the employer’s proffered justification is merely a pretext for discrimination.” Burton, 707 F.3d at 426 (citing Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764-65 (3d Cir. 1994), and Sarullo v. U.S. Postal Serv., 352 F.3d 789, 799-800 (3d Cir. 2003)). More specifically, the plaintiff “`must point to some evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which a factfinder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the employer’s articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the employer’s action.’” Burton, 707 F.3d at 427 (quoting Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 764). “The plaintiff’s evidence . . . `must demonstrate such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the employer’s proffered legitimate reasons for its action that a reasonable factfinder could rationally find them unworthy of credence.’” Burton, 707 F.3d at 427 (quoting Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 765).
Here, the employer conceded that Hersh established a Prima Facie case of gender discrimination, she was female, was qualified for her position, and was terminated. However, the defendant argued that they had a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for her termination. Hersh rebutted this by noting that she always met expectations in performance reviews, was never placed on a personal improvement plan, her manager had sexist attitudes, and she suffered a long history of discrimination with the defendant.
With respect to the defendant’s sexist attitude, the court found evidence in the record that, on at least two occasions in or around 2005, managers entertained clients at strip clubs and that, on one of those occasions, Hersh’s co-worker went to the strip club as well. In addition, defendant held an annual Thanksgiving luncheon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and, at least in 2011 and 2012 and defendant invited only men, including male clients, Hersh’s male co-workers, and the male spouses of female employees. Hersh also indicated that her manager told her: “You frustrate me like my wife frustrates me, and I’m still married to her.”
In addition to these comments, there was also evidence that the boss used his discretion to give better accounts to male workers over the female plaintiff:
Plaintiff further asserts that there is evidence from which a jury could conclude that Defendants’ assertion that she was weak at business development in comparison to Howard and Eckardt was both incredible and pretextual. She argues that the evidence demonstrates that Baptista favored Howard and Eckardt when assigning clients and quantifying their business development successes, thereby giving the two men an unfair business development advantage over Plaintiff and ultimately assessing them more favorably using more lenient standards. She points to evidence that in 2011, Baptista chose to reassign to Eckardt an account that was being handled by another RM who was transferring to Delaware, and then, in his discretion and with Brown’s approval, characterized a $18 million loan modification for that client in 2012 as new business on Eckardt’s business ledger, reasoning that it was a “major modification” and thus merited unorthodox treatment. (App. 120-21, 212, 475.) She also points to evidence that Baptista used his discretion in 2012 to assign to Howard a top client prospect that both she and Howard were pursuing, and who was potentially worth $10 million, even though Howard and Plaintiff had agreed that Plaintiff would assume full responsibility for the prospect. (App. 123-24, 246-47, 592.) In addition, Plaintiff points to evidence that Baptista, in 2012, reassigned to Eckardt a significant client (Frank McKee) who, according to Plaintiff’s record testimony, she had brought in as a new client ten years before and who, as even Baptista conceded, really liked Plaintiff. (App. 353-55, 491.) Record evidence reflects that, in August of 2011, Baptista arranged for Eckardt to take Plaintiff’s place making a presentation about the status of that client’s account to the senior loan committee, and then, in mid-2012, advised Eckardt that Eckardt would be taking over the client relationship from Plaintiff, in spite of Baptista’s acknowledgement that the client would need some convincing as to the change. (App. 217-218, 356-57, 491). Plaintiff further points to evidence of yet another discretionary decision in 2011 or early 2012, in which Baptista chose Howard to handle a $35 million construction loan that the bank was underwriting for a set of clients (237 King Street Partners), which included one of Plaintiff’s clients (for whom she had handled the acquisition loan for the same project) as well as one of Howard’s clients, and then assigned Howard the full $35 million credit for the loan, when he could have opted to give Plaintiff and Howard shared credit, and Howard testified that he would have accepted such an arrangement. (App. 118-119, 243-44.)
Based on the evidence provided by Hersh the Court concluded that a reasonable jury could conclude that Plaintiff’s compensation lagged behind her male counterparts, in spite of her satisfactory and comparable job performance, and that Plaintiff’s direct supervisor exhibited behavior that evidenced a discriminatory attitude towards women. Therefore, Hersh’s claims of gender discrimination will move forward, and her case will be heard by a jury, unless of course, the employer decides to settle that case before that point.
If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your gender or sex, then call the right attorney. It is never appropriate to discriminate against female employees. Discrimination against women includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied a promotion, and denied wages or not receiving equal pay. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims.
The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to gender discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.