- A white, 60-year-old project manager from the U.S. can continue with his lawsuit alleging age and national origin discrimination, a federal district court has ruled, denying his employer's motion for summary judgment (Palmer v. CSC Covansys Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp., No. 2:17-cv-10309 (E.D. Mich., Sept. 25, 2018)).
- John Palmer, a former project manager for CSC Covansys Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp., said he was terminated under the companies’ "Get Fit" program, an initiative aimed at reducing headcount and improving profit margins. In a company memo, the defendants noted that clients need to "appreciate the value of building out the base with younger, less experienced people" such as millennials. He also said the defendants deviated from company policy when it did not try to find employment for him inside the company and treated younger, Indian employees more favorably.
- The court, allowing his case to proceed, noted that Caucasian-American is a protected class. The court said it was evident that individuals of Indian origin who held the same job and were paid similar salaries were being provided with opportunities to transfer within the company. The court also said that the company’s memo regarding building out the base with younger workers and the ages of the people terminated could lead a jury to find that the employers’ reasons offered were pretextual.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws employment discrimination based on national origin. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this means that employers can't discriminate based on "birthplace, ancestry, culture, linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group or accent." Likewise, equal employment opportunity cannot be denied because of an individual's marriage to or association with someone of a national origin group; membership or association with specific ethnic promotion groups; attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples or mosques generally associated with a national origin group; or a surname associated with a national origin group.
While many suits alleging national origin have alleged discrimination against minorities, an increasing number of lawsuits are claiming so-called reverse discrimination, Kenneth M. Willner, a partner with Paul Hastings LLP, told attendees at a recent National Employment Law Institute conference.
Additionally, suits are increasingly addressing a subset of national origin discrimination: language discrimination. National origin discrimination claims based on language, specifically English-only policies, are also increasing. Such policies, even in customer contact positions, have been successfully challenged, Willner noted. As a result, experts recommend that the policies should be narrowly tailored, not overly broad and not applied to jobs where they are not necessary.