In employment discrimination cases, some of the day-to-day details of a person’s employment are sometimes disputed. Did an employee "continually" cry at work or only "occasionally" cry? And does it matter?
A recent Connecticut district court decision clarified that such trivial disputes about an employee’s background — without more — are not enough to be "probative of discriminatory conduct".
In Harris v. Long Hill Tree & Lawn Care Service, Inc. (download here), decided earlier this month, an employee claimed that she was terminated from her job in violation of ADEA. However, the District Court rejected such claims finding that none of the issues raised demonstrated that the reasons proffered by the employer are a "mere pretext for age discrimination."
The employee claimed that there were inconsistencies regarding the amount of crying that she did in the workplace. But the court, in essence, said that it didn’t really matter — such disputes don’t have anything to do with the employee’s age.
In addition to saying that minor factual disagreements don’t amount to age discrimination, the court also dismissed arguments that age discrimination existed because her job duties were taken over by people "substantially younger" than her. At the time of her termination, she was 61 and ultimately the court found that the job duties were distributed to people who had a median age of just over 54. That is not enough of a difference to send the case to a jury.