Grounds for Discharge?
BY BOB GREGG
Can a company be held liable for the discriminatory acts of independent contractors?
Can an employee be fired one day after requesting FMLA leave?
Find out how the courts are deciding in these and other employment-law cases.
was not the only reason for
Awhite transit-authority police officer, who filed Title VII and 42 U.S. Code
§1981 race-discrimination cases, alleged
that he was fired for making the following
remark to an all-Black group of officers:
“You should all bring watermelon to the
next meeting.” The white officer claimed
that he would not have been fired for this
comment if he had been Black. But in Lewis
v. MARTA, the court dismissed the case for
several reasons. First, the officer’s allegations were speculation; he had no evidence
of any Black officer who had ever made a
similar remark. Second, he was not fired
just for one remark; he had a history of
discipline for disregarding rules and
regulations, and the remark was just one of
the incidents (11th Cir., 2009).
A company can be held liable for discriminatory acts
of independent contractors.
In Halpert v. Manhattan Apartments Inc. (2nd Cir., 2009), the court ruled that the acts of independent contractors, including recruiters and executive-search firms, create a liability for the company that
contracted them. So when this company hired an independent
recruiter, which allegedly rejected an applicant as too old for a sales
position, it became liable. “If a company gives an individual authority
to interview job applicants and make hiring decisions on the company’s behalf, then the company may be held liable if that individual
improperly discriminates on the basis of age,” the court stated.
Polish teacher can sue district for national-origin
Abilingual teacher (Polish-English) of Polish origin complained that Latino bilingual teachers and students (Spanish-English)
received more resources and support than she and the Polish-English bilingual students did. Allegedly, her school principal, who is
Latino, told her that Latino students “are better than Polish and
deserve more than Polish.” Later, she claims the principal stated, “I
brought you to this school and you stupid Polack pushed the other
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