Shifting Explanations Support Discrimination Claim.
A Maryland federal case emphasizes the need for employers to be thorough and honest in offering reasons for an employee’s termination.
In Saah v. Carroll L. Thumel et al., a veterinary assistant sued for pregnancy discrimination. The defendants asked the court to throw out the case, but the court found that there was sufficient evidence of discrimination and retaliation to send the case to trial. In particular, the court noted the shifting reasons for the termination – initially, the defendants said it was because the assistant had eavesdropped on a management conversation and told her co-workers that the office manager was talking sh** about them. In their response to the assistant’s charge of discrimination, however, the defendants referenced additional issues, including her tardiness. Additional reasons were subsequently listed during the discovery process in the lawsuit, including poor performance (although the assistant had received 96/100 in her most recent performance review). The court found the shifting and “inconsistent” explanations to be “probative of pretext” for discrimination.