Su­per­vi­sor’s Re­marks Could Be Used as Di­rect Ev­i­dence of Dis­crim­i­na­tory Bias

The HR Digest - - HR Drift -

On Septem­ber 2, 2016, the United States District Court for the District of Mary­land held that the EEOC can now move for­ward in its case against a renowned Mary­land health­care provider for fail­ing to pro­mote a fe­male worker be­cause she had availed her­self of a ma­ter­nity leave.

Un­der the EEOC v. Di­men­sions Health­care Sys­tem, a fe­male em­ployee was passed up for pro­mo­tion, in spite of hav­ing more years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try. In re­sponse to her in­quiries, the su­per­vi­sor told her that the se­lected can­di­date “had a man­age­ment back­ground. Plus you were on ma­ter­nity leave for a while.” The court de­ter­mined the case on the fact that the plain­tiff has su­pe­rior ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions com­pared to the se­lected can­di­date while re­ject­ing the de­fen­dant’s ar­gu­ment. The court con­sid­ered the sin­gle, iso­lated re­mark and the per­son­nel de­ci­sion made by the su­per­vi­sor as di­rect ev­i­dence of a dis­crim­i­na­tory bias.

The EEOC v. Di­men­sions Health­care Sys­tem case is a re­minder that com­ment, es­pe­cially those made by the man­age­ment, can con­sti­tute di­rect ev­i­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tion un­der fed­eral dis­crim­i­na­tion laws. When there’s di­rect ev­i­dence of work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion, it’s eas­ier for a court or the jury to find the man­age­ment li­able for un­law­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion at work­place.

The case high­lights the im­por­tance of train­ing em­ploy­ees in the de­ci­sion­mak­ing po­si­tion to keep them­selves from voic­ing harm­ful re­marks or con­sid­er­ing un­law­ful fac­tors when mak­ing hir­ing or em­ploy­ment de­ci­sions or other­wise.

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