“Me Too” Evidence May Be Admissible for Discrimination Claim
Employers should be warned that other employees’ accounts of their own experiences with discrimination may be admissible to support a plaintiff’s individual discrimination claim.
In Pineda v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., the plaintiff brought a number of claims against his employer, including under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The federal district court initially threw out this claim, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that it had erred, in part by disregarding “me too” evidence from other employees. The company had argued that at least some of these other employee declarations were irrelevant because the employees reported to other supervisors. The Ninth Circuit, however, noted that several employees reported to the same supervisors as the plaintiff, and, further, that “all of the declarations may offer relevant information about organizational practices.”
Company managers sometimes discount anecdotal accounts as “hearsay,” and believe that such accounts cannot or should not be relied upon. But this case provides a warning that these accounts may play a role in a discrimination lawsuit.