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Claims of Discrimination Based on Disparate Disciplinary Actions are Challenging


The legal concept of disparate treatment in employment discrimination cases refers to situations where an employer treats some employees less favorably than others based on a protected characteristic such as race or gender. The employer can be found liable depending on whether that characteristic was the actual motivation for the employer’s challenged decision. This requires determining the employer’s intent to discriminate.

Granger v. Texas Department of Transportation

In the case of Granger v. Texas Department of Transportation, the plaintiff was employed with the Texas Department of Transportation. She was terminated after ten (10) years of employment when she was caught taking scrap metal and other materials from the trash for her own personal use, which was against company policy. The employee, who is female, alleged that her termination was discriminatory because other male employees had done something similar but were not terminated. The trial court dismissed her claims and she appealed.

The Appellate Court Agrees with the Dismissal of the Employee’s Claim

The appellate court examined the facts of the case and determined that the male employees she had compared herself to did not share the same supervisor as the plaintiff. That means they are not appropriate comparators because the decision makers were not the same. Also, the appellate court determined that the employer cannot be held liable for terminating an employee who has admittedly broken company policies. By taking company property for personal use, the employee gave the employer a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her.

What is Required to Prove a Wrongful Termination Claim?

In a termination case, you must show that you are a member of a protected class; you were terminated from your job; at the time of your termination, your job performance met your employer’s legitimate expectations; and you were replaced by a similarly qualified individual who is not in your protected class. Terms and conditions cases are similar in their requirements. Once again, you must show you are a member of a protected class; you were subjected to an adverse job action; your employer treated similarly situated employees outside of your protected class more favorably; and you were qualified to do your job, at that time.

Damaging Your Employment Case by Breaking the Rules

Many employment discrimination cases are filed when an employee is either disciplined or terminated and they believe those actions were discriminatory. Although in many situations this may be the case, when employees are also engaging in disruptive behavior in the workplace, that makes their case more difficult to prove. It is not uncommon for there to be at least one disruptive person in the workplace. But, if you feel like you are being discriminated against, don’t let that person be you.

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Michel | King. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!

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