This RIF was national origin discrimination at work

by on January 5, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Questionable documentation, derogatory remarks are, compelling evidence of national origin discrimination in his workplace

When planning and executing a Reduction in Force (RIF), be sure managers check their prejudices at the door.

A Mexican-American computer operator was discharged as part of an RIF. But he persuaded a court that he was intentionally discriminated against because of his race and national origin.

Five of 15 jobs were targeted for RIF elimination at a tech firm. Managers built a spreadsheet with six merit-based categories to make RIF selections. Ratings were based on the prior six months and didn’t include past performance reviews. Based on the spreadsheet, the operator was selected for RIF. But non-Hispanic operators with less experience and tenure, and who received lower ratings on their most recent reviews, were retained.

The operator showed that two of the retained employees were frequently absent, one slept on the job and another drank on the job.

Additionally, one manager had made derogatory remarks about Mexicans prior to the RIF. The court concluded that the spreadsheet didn’t reflect the employee performance that really mattered. However, it did reflect a pattern of national orientation discrimination.

The operator was awarded $22,500 in back pay and $250,000 in punitive damages. The firm ignored the relevant facts. But the fired employee didn’t and won a big national origin lawsuit.

Cite: Juarez v. ACS Gov’t Solutions Group, Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, No. 02-6069, 1/8/03

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