UPDATE: Nov. 26, 2018: A federal jury has awarded the Teva Pharmaceuticals executive $6 million following a trial on his national origin and age discrimination claims, according to the Associated Press.
- A Pennsylvania man who alleged he was subjected to discrimination based on national origin by his Israeli supervisors can continue with his claims against Teva Pharmaceuticals after a federal district court refused to dismiss the lawsuit against the international employer (Middlebrooks v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., et al., No. 17-412, (E.D. Pa., Aug. 31, 2018)).
- Stephen Middlebrooks alleged that one of his supervisors said Americans have a "narrow-minded perception of Israelis" and that Americans "did a poor job of supporting Israel in its military actions in the Middle East." Middlebrooks claimed that Israeli supervisors micromanaged the American team, failed to give Americans information when requested, changed the group's objectives when other regions failed to meet goals and repeatedly asked for extra data on employees. Middlebrooks said that, within two weeks of higher-ups at the Israeli-based company reviewing an internal report from American employees alleging cultural bias, he was given his "first-ever" negative performance review and then fired for deficient performance.
- The Pennsylvania federal trial court denied Teva's request for summary judgment, finding that substantive questions existed which justified sending the case to trial.
An increasing number of lawsuits are claiming "reverse discrimination," Kenneth Willner, an attorney with Paul Hastings LLP told attendees at a National Employment Law Institute conference in July. Employers can prevent discrimination claims by giving accurate reasons for decisions from the beginning and documenting decision-making processes, he said.
Experts also say that HR should take note of employees who receive great evaluations but whose ratings suddenly fall off a cliff, especially if a new supervisor is involved. Manager training can help, as well as standardized performance review processes.
Finally, national origin discrimination claims are on the rise, according to Willner, but, unlike Middlebrooks, have largely been focused on English-only policies. Such policies, even in customer contact positions, have been successfully challenged, he said. To avoid litigation, English-only policies should be narrowly tailored, not overly broad and not applied to jobs where they are not necessary, he suggested.