Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment to Employer in Georgia Man’s Employment Discrimination and Defamation Lawsuit

In order to be successful in an Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. This requires time, skill, and perseverance, so it is important to talk to an attorney who is experienced in this field of the law if you believe that you may have a case. In most cases, the court will dismiss the plaintiff’s claim(s) well in advance of trial if he or she is not able to put forth credible evidence to support his or her case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was an African American man who worked as a machine operator in the fabrication department of the defendant employer but was fired after an incident in which a fellow employee was arrested for possession of marijuana in the workplace. According to the employer’s version of events, the plaintiff could not explain what was in his hand in a video that was taken of an apparent interchange between him and the employee who was later arrested. The plaintiff contended, however, that he told the employer that another employee had asked him to buy her a drink and that it was her change that was in his hand. The parties agreed that, after this discussion concerning the video, the plaintiff was terminated from his employment.

After filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and being granted a right to letter, the plaintiff filed suit against the employer, as well as a supervisor, a manager, a human resources manager, and the vice-president of the company, asserting claims for disparate treatment and retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq, as well as for defamation. After the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Waycross Division, granted partial summary judgment to the individual defendants on the plaintiff’s Title VII claims, the employer filed a motion for summary judgment as to both claims pending against it.

Decision of the Court

The federal district court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court began by noting that an order of summary judgment was warranted when the moving party was able to show that no genuine issue of material fact existed such that the movant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In such a situation, a fact is considered “material” if it could affect the outcome of the underlying claim, and a “genuine” dispute exists if a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party based upon the evidence submitted for consideration by the court. Because summary judgment ends a litigant’s case (at least at to issues upon which such judgment is granted), the court is to view the evidence in the light that is most favorable to the party who is not seeking summary judgment. The court must also draw any and all “reasonable inferences” in the nonmoving party’s favor.

After the moving party fulfills its initial burden of demonstrating that there is an absence of any genuine issues of material fact, the opposing party must be able to convince the court that a genuine issue of fact does exist, if his or her claim is to remain viable. Here, the court found that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to any of the plaintiff’s remaining claims; thus, summary judgment was granted in the employer’s favor.

Consult an Atlanta Employment Litigation Attorney

If you believe that you have been the victim of unlawful employment discrimination, you should talk to an attorney who can help you gather evidence to support your case. To schedule consultation with experienced Atlanta employment discrimination attorney John L. Mays at Parks, Chesin & Walbert, call us at 404-873-8048 today.

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