Summary Judgment Success for Age Discrimination Case
In 2019, the company sold a car dealership they operated and subsequently had to lay off around 100 employees, including the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff alleged that the company unfairly terminated his employment based on his age.
The Plaintiff successfully established a prima facie case of age discrimination, but L&A attorneys George and Hunter showed that the company had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons to terminate the Plaintiff’s employment due to the sale and were able to rebut the presumption of discrimination. The Plaintiff attempted to overcome this rebuttal with indirect evidence of alleged discriminatory comments over a period of several years in an attempt to show that the non-discriminatory reasons for his termination were mere pretext. However, the L&A team was able to show that such alleged comments were neither proximate to the decision to terminate the Plaintiff nor sufficient to establish proof of pretext.
On October 3, 2023, Judge Barry W. Ashe ruled that the undisputed material facts failed to prove the Plaintiff’s claim for age-based discrimination and dismissed the claim with prejudice. This ruling is an effective dismissal of the Plaintiff’s case against L&A’s client.
WestLaw Case Citation: GEORGE A. RHODES v. BRYAN CHEVROLET, LLC, et al., No. CV 22-1145, 2023 WL 6442744 (E.D. La. Oct. 3, 2023)
With claims of age discrimination, a Plaintiff may prove that their age was the determining, or ‘but-for,’ factor in their termination with direct or circumstantial evidence. If, as in this case, no direct evidence for age being the primary reason for the termination is provided, the McDonnell Douglas framework applies. This framework necessitates that the Plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of age discrimination. If discrimination is presumed, the Defendant must then provide a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason” for the employee’s termination (Berquist, 500 .3d at 356). Then, if the Defendant provides a sound reason, the Plaintiff would then have to prove it to be pretextual, thus serving only as a cover for the discrimination.
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