Court Denies Employer's Effort to Prevent Employee From Introducing Evidence of Manager's Improper Transactions

Gregory S. Schaer, a Monmouth County based New Jersey Employment Attorney located in Manalapan, represented the employee in a lawsuit against their employer alleging claims of age discrimination.

In Keene v. Sears , 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65103, a former employee sued his employer, Sears Roebuck & Co., claiming that he was wrongfully terminated and subjected to discrimination on account of his age. The Company claimed that the employee was terminated for allegedly violating Company policy by extending improper discounts to customers. The employee claimed that the discounts that he extended were in accordance with Company policy and that Associates were permitted to extend the discounts under certain circumstances without obtaining manager authorization.

The employee also sought to introduce evidence that the manager who terminated him had himself discounted merchandise for customers and had failed to discipline or terminate other employees who were known to have extended discounts to customers. The court held that the manager’s own discounting of merchandise to customers and treatment of other employee who extended discounts to customers without repercussion was highly relevant and raised substantial questions as to the manager’s motivation in terminating the employee.

The court held that the evidence was directly relevant to the manager’s credibility regarding his belief that the employee's actions were in violation of Company policy, the credibility of the Company’s assertion that the employee’s actions constituted a terminable offense, the disparate treatment of the employee in comparison to others who engaged in similar conduct but were not disciplined or terminated, and the manager’s motive, state of mind and intent in terminating the employee.

The court also held that the employee was permitted to introduce evidence showing that similarly situated, younger employees were treated differently than the employee as evidence of discrimination. The court noted that evidence of an employer’s treatment of individual outside the protected class who committed similar infractions of the employer’s policies is “especially relevant” to establish an employer’s discriminatory intent.

In addition, the court held that an employer’s failure to following policies and procedures and inconsistencies in procedures applied by the employer can serve as circumstantial evidence of pretext.

To speak with an experienced New Jersey Employment Law Attorney, contact the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer, LLC, conveniently located in Monmouth County, New Jersey.