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