Title VII Race Discrimination Lawsuit Fails

On April 8, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of the district court that granted summary judgment in favor of an employer on a former employee's claims for race, age, and disability discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Gamble v. PCA US LLC, No. 20-2254 (7th Cir. April 8, 2021).  The employer fired the plaintiff for violating its anti-harassment policy for a second time.  The plaintiff asserted that he was treated unfairly during the employer's investigation, and that he was ultimately fired on account of his race, age, and disability.  He sued the employer for employment discrimination in federal court.

The district court granted summary judgment for the employer on all counts.  The plaintiff appealed only on his race discrimination claim.  The 7th Circuit affirmed because no reasonable jury could infer that the plaintiff was treated less favorably than a similarly situated employee outside of his protected class.

Two female employees complained that the plaintiff had sexually harassed them by making inappropriate comments toward them.  After interviewing several witnesses, the employer's human resources manager concluded that the plaintiff had violated the employer's sexual harassment policy, and issued a written warning to him.  Subsequently, the plaintiff's supervisor reported that he had witnessed the plaintiff acting inappropriately toward a female who reported to him.  Another woman also complained during her interview that the plaintiff had also acted inappropriately toward her.  The employer terminated the plaintiff because of his second violation of its sexual harassment policy.  The plaintiff's disparate treatment argument failed because he did not identify a similarly situated employee outside of his protected class who had committed two violations of the employer's sexual harassment policy but was not terminated.