South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Supervisor's Statements Create Prima Facie Case of Discrimination
Description Appeals court held that statements made by a supervisor about a fired employee presented sufficient evidence of discrimination based on sex and national origin. The employee's suit should proceed.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words National Origin; Sex; Prima Facie Case; Pretext; Union
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Dunaway, an Asian-American woman, worked for the Teamsters union for 25 years before she was fired. After twenty-two years of excellent performance, her new supervisor gave her negative evaluations and consistently criticized her work. After she was fired, she sued for national origin and sex discrimination. The trial court dismissed the suit for failure to establish a prima facie case; she appealed.
Decision

Reversed. Dunaway testified that the supervisor called her his "China doll" and a "Little Gook." He would talk to Dunaway using a Chinese-sounding accent and use expression such as "chop chop." He expressed the opinion that an Asian should not work for the union. He stated to her that women should "either be on their backs or on their knees scrubbing floors" and that women are not as intelligent as men to handle business matters. Another boss would ogle her and grab his crotch and say "This is what she needs" and other comments. These claims meet the standards for presenting a prima facie case. Viewing this evidence in the most favorable light, "Dunaway presented evidence . . . from which a reasonable jury could find that the purported explanations for her termination were pretextual."

Citation Dunaway v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 310 F.3d 758 (D.C. Cir., 2002)

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