Many employees in Oregon and across the United States suffer unlawful workplace discrimination every day. Such employees deserve full protection under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and deserve to be fairly compensated for any violations of their rights under the law. However, like any type of civil action, some workplace discrimination claims are unfounded. Some employees file claims because they are angry over their termination and want to get back at their former employer. While every claim should be investigated and taken seriously, employers should have to pay off employees for false claims. Employers deserve to have their rights protected, too.
False Age and National Origin Claims
In a recent federal case, Margarita Zayas worked as an ultrasound technician at Rockford Memorial Hospital for nearly 12 years. Following her termination in 2011, Zayas filed claims alleging the hospital had wrongfully fired her based on her age and national origin. Though Zayas was 55 years old and of Puerto Rican descent, the court ultimately found that her discrimination claims were unsupported.
Instead, the court found that the hospital terminated Zayas due to her recent conduct on the job, mostly regarding her emailing habits. The hospital alleged that Zayas sent her direct manager several emails that“were perceived as negative, unprofessional and disrespectful towards her managers and peers.” Apparently, Zayas continued to send such disrespectful emails after two meetings with her supervisor and human resources representatives, and even after receiving a formal written warning regarding the emails. The hospital then terminated Zayas, claiming she was not familiar with proper conduct for the workplace.
Zayas claimed she was fired due to her age, because a younger employee replaced her. While there is no dispute that a younger employee replaced Zayas, the court found that was not enough to
successfully assert a discrimination claim. In addition, she would have to show that she had met all expectations of the job when she was fired. Zayas submitted positive performance reviews to demonstrate that she met job expectations, however the court reasoned that she stopped meeting the expectations when she began sending the unprofessional and disrespectful emails. Zayas also stated that certain comments made by fellow employees in regard to her Puerto Rican heritage constituted a hostile work environment. The court found that these comments were isolated and not at all related to her termination. In short, the court decided in the hospital’s favor because they found no evidence to support either the age or national origin discrimination claims. Instead, the court decided Zayas had been terminated simply because she acted in an insubordinate manner.
Employers should be held liable for unlawful actions, however they should not have to compensate employees who suffered no actual wrongdoing. If you are a facing an employment claim, call the
experienced employment attorneys at HKM for help with your case today.