A fired employee has filed a claim for race discrimination asserting that his termination for being late was pretext for discrimination. In the context of race discrimination, pretext refers to the reason or justification that an employer gives to cover up illegal discrimination. It has been defined as “a reason for an action which is false, and offered to cover up true motives or intentions.”
In this instance, the employee was routinely “late” for work. However, the place of employment had a flextime policy which allowed for workers to show up anywhere from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. Further, the worker was African American, and was required to submit certain forms and follow a strict start-time policy whereas his co-workers, who were white, were not held to the same strict policies. After being reprimanded for being late, the man filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging race discrimination and harassment. He was subsequently terminated. In response to the employee’s assertions of discrimination, the place of employment asserted that it was justified in firing him due to excessive tardiness. The worker countered that this was “pretext” and presented evidence to show that the explanation either explanation "has no basis in fact, did not actually motivate the defendant's challenged conduct or was insufficient to warrant the challenged conduct." The worker showed that the three other white workers had similar tardiness, but were not disciplined. The court determined that this evidence was sufficient for the case to proceed to a jury.
In many cases, employers will create justification to terminate an employee that violates employment law, whether based on race, gender, age or nationality. In these instances it may be possible to fight back by presenting contradictory evidence.
For more information or if you believe that you or a loved one has faced any type of employment discrimination, please contact the experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.