SW Legal studies in Business

Terminated Employees Fails to Establish Prima Facie Case of Discrimination
Description

Appeals court affirmed that a terminated employee failed to establish a prima facie case of either sex discrimination or age discrimination. The employer provided legitimate reasons for termination that were not age related and the alleged favoritism to women was not shown to affect his position.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Sex Discrimination; Age Discrimination; Prima Facie Case; Non-pretextual Reasons

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts McGinnis worked as a train dispatcher for Union Pacific from 1974 until he was fired in 2002. In his last four years, he was given six citations for violating train dispatcher rules (which are serious as mistakes can lead to accidents). He was ordered to take a one-month training course to improve his comprehension of the train switching system. He failed the proficiency exam. McGinnis was fired at age 49 for poor performance and for failing the exam. He was replaced with a 53-year old male. McGinnis sued for age discrimination and sex discrimination. The sex discrimination claim was based on alleged favoritism shown by the manager for attractive, less experienced women employees. He contended the manager had an affair with one woman who he gave favorable treatment to. The district court dismissed the suit. McGinnis appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. McGinnis failed to state a prima facie case of either age or sex discrimination. As to the claim of age discrimination, the employer had non-pretextual, business-related reasons for his termination. McGinnis had a number of safety incidents at work and could not pass the proficiency exam to operate the dispatch system. Further, he was not replaced with a younger worker. As to sex discrimination, even if his allegations were true, it would not provide the basis for suit for him, as he failed to show how he suffered adverse actions due to favoritism to women employees. Given that only 18% of the employees were women, and others did not contend the company favored women over men, his claims seem dubious.

Citation McGinnis v. Union Pacific Railroad, 496 F.3d 868 (8th Cir., 2007)

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