A Pro Se Plaintiff filed a federal Kentucky Civil Rights Act retaliation lawsuit against his former employer G.E. (See Hamilton v. General Electric Co., 2011 WL 1085862 (W.D. Ky.)) Plaintiff had worked for the company for over 30 years. Plaintiff got written up and suspended a few times and on the last time of trouble, was fired by the company. But, plaintiff’s union intervened and plaintiff was given a final chance after signing a Last Chance Agreement (“LCA”). After signing the LCA, plaintiff stayed out of trouble for almost a year. Then one day, while coming into work on a voluntary day, plaintiff got in trouble again and again needed the union to intervene getting him reinstated on a 30 day suspension. While serving the 30 day suspension, plaintiff filed an age discrimination charge with the EEOC.
About 3 months later, there was a final incident at work that got plaintiff fired. The line that he was working on broke down so plaintiff went and took a lunch break. The exact facts as to what happened differ but basically plaintiff was fired during his lunch break.
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit claiming the defendant retaliated against him in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act for filing an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC. The trial court granted the summary judgment motion and the appellate court reversed sending it back down to the trial court. Then the defendant, though his Kentucky Civil Rights Act lawyer, filed a renewed motion for summary judgment and this is where we are now.
A retaliation claim under the KCRA is subject to the same analysis as a Title VII retaliation claim. A prima facie case of retaliation requires Plaintiff to prove that; “1) he or she engaged in protected activity, 2) the employer knew of the exercise of the protected right, 3) an adverse employment action was subsequently taken again the employee and 4) there was a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action.”
The first 3 prongs are undisputed. It is the 4th that defendant is fighting about. To this the Court found that there were two factual allegations sufficient to satisfy this prong, 1) the temporal proximity between plaintiff’s filing of the EEOC complaint and his termination and 2) the heightened scrutiny of plaintiff following the filing of his EEOC complaint. The Court held that the combination of this increased scrutiny with the temporal proximity of plaintiff’s termination occurring less than three months after his EEOC filing was sufficient to establish the causal nexus needed to establish a prima facie case.
The defense tried to argue that the “honest belief” rule applied in this case, but the court declined. The rule only applies where a plaintiff demonstrates pretext by showing the reason given by the employer is ultimately found to be mistaken, foolish, trivial, or baseless. The “honest belief” rule then provides the defendant with a last opportunity to demonstrate that the adverse employment action was not taken with discriminatory intent. But, in the case at hand, the “honest belief” rule need not apply because plaintiff was not alleging that defendant’s decision was in hindsight mistaken, foolish, trivial or baseless. Plaintiff was alleging that defendant increased its scrutiny of his action so that defendant could discover a reason to terminate him.
If you have been the subject of a Kentucky Civil Rights Act retaliation matter, please call and speak to a Kentucky Civil Rights Act retaliation lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are injured…Ask Andrew!!!