Monday, July 11, 2005

If I liked you last week, why not this week

This post discusses the "same actor" inference, which can be a big deal in litigation employment discrimination cases.

Where it applies, the same actor inference is a basic element of summary judgment practice. There are a bunch of "same actor" cases from the Fourth Circuit - see Proud v. Stone, 945 F.2d 796, 797 (4th Cir. 1991) (“a strong inference exists that discrimination was not a determining factor for the adverse action taken by the employer” where the same individuals who gave a job to the plaintiff removed the plaintiff a short time later); see also Taylor v. Virginia Union University, 193 F.3d 219, 231 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Proud); DeJarnette v. Corning Inc., 133 F.3d 293, 298 (4th Cir. 1998) (employer’s knowledge of plaintiff’s pregnancy at time of her hiring “creates an inference that [the employer’s] reasons for discharging [plaintiff] are not pretextual”); Evans v. Technologies Applications & Service Co., 80 F.3d 954, 959 (4th Cir. 1996) (citing Proud); Mitchell v. Data General Corp., 12 F.3d 1310, 1318 (4th Cir. 1993) (same) - and elsewhere - see Schnabel v. Abramson, 232 F.3d 83, 91 (2d Cir. 2000) (“where the person who made the decision to fire was the same person who made the decision to hire, it is difficult to impute to her an invidious motivation that would be inconsistent with the decision to hire”); Grossmann v. Dillard Department Stores, Inc., 109 F.3d 457, 459 (8th Cir. 1997) (“To uphold the jury’s verdict, we would have to believe that Franzke, himself fifty-eight, was free of age bias when he hired Grossmann, suddenly turned against older workers four years later, then just as abruptly changed his mind again”); Brown v. CSC Logic, Inc., 82 F.3d 651, 658 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing Proud as best explanation of “same actor” inference); E.E.O.C. v. Our Lady of Resurrection Med. Ctr., 77 F.3d 145, 152 (7th Cir. 1996) (“The same hirer/firer inference has strong presumptive value”); Buhrmaster v. Overnite Transp. Co., 61 F.3d 461, 463 (6th Cir. 1995) (“It is simply incredible that the company officials who hired an employee at age fifty-one had suddenly developed an aversion to older people two years later”).

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