A collection agency has been cleared by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals after it was accused of firing a former employee who claimed she was being discriminated against as a result of her race and gender because the former employee could not provide enough evidence that company’s Chief Executive knew about the claims at the time he decided to fire her, even though the employee had settled similar charges only 16 months before she was fired.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Martin v. Financial Asset Management Systems can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff started working for the defendant in 2009 and was promoted to Director of Operations in 2010. In 2012, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming she was being discriminated against based on her race and sex. Those charges were eventually settled.
Sixteen months later, in 2014, during a staff meeting, the plaintiff was “belittled” by the company’s CEO “for the thousandth time,” according to the plaintiff. When the meeting was over, the plaintiff requested and had a meeting with the company’s vice president of human resources. Before that meeting occurred, the CEO repeatedly tried to contact the plaintiff by calling her in her office, but the plaintiff admitted she did not answer the call.
The plaintiff met with the vice president of human resources and said she wanted to file a complaint against the CEO. What happened next is in dispute. The plaintiff claims she said she was being discriminated against because of her race while the human resources vice president said that the plaintiff never mentioned race or sex as the basis for her complaint.
When she met with the CEO to discuss the meeting she had with the plaintiff, the vice president never mentioned the alleged complaint about race or gender discrimination. The CEO said he made the decision to fire the plaintiff because she did not answer his calls when he tried to reach the plaintiff after the staff meeting.
After she was fired, the plaintiff sued, alleging the defendant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. But, concluding the plaintiff did not have enough evidence, a District Court judge granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the defendant.
In its ruling, the Eleventh Circuit goes into tremendous detail to discuss how the plaintiff did not do enough to impeach the CEO’s denial that he did not know about the alleged complaint or present circumstantial evidence of his knowledge beyond temporal proximity to the original complaint. That, along with precedents in the Eleventh Circuit “compel” the affirmation of summary judgment in favor of the defendant.