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Federal Court Dismisses Discrimination Claim for Failure to Show Disparate Treatment

A Lousiana federa court dismissed a sex discrimination claim brought by a former UPS manager because he failed to show that the company treated similarly situated female employees  better than him.  Williams v . UPS, No. 16-450-SDD-RLB (M.D.La. 5/11/18).  The decision reinforces the importance of proving that a discrimination plaintiff was treated  differently than persons outside their protected group to get a case to trial.

In Williams, UPS fired the manager for failing to file an injury report after one of his subordinates was injured during horseplay with a co-worker. Williams alleged he was the victim of sex discrimination because one of the employees involved in the incident was fired but then reinstated, while the other received no discipline at all. Additionally, a female human resources employee who was aware of the horseplay was not disciplined.

Judge Shelly Dick granted summary judgment to UPS, ruling that Williams failed to present an adequate set of similarly situated employees who were treated better than him.  Because the comparators he identified were two subordinates and a human resources employee, Judge Dick found “they all have different supervisors and do not have similar work responsibilities.”

The Williams decision reinforces the importance for both plaintiffs and defendants in employment discrimination cases to focus on whether there is evidence of disparate treatment.  In  most discrimination claims, the failure to show that employees outside the plaintiff’s protected group received preferential treatment will be fatal to the employee’s lawsuit.

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