25-year employee, demoted in search of "younger, more aggressive sales staff" cannot demonstrate discrimination?
This week the Court of Appeals sustained a summary judgment in favor of Comprehensive Logistics Co., in a lawsuit by a 25-year employee, Bland. After two different sales meetings at which company executives emphasized the need to develop a younger, more aggressive sales force, Bland was demoted. When he objected and became passively-aggressive in response, he was fired for insubordination. He sued alleging age discrimination.
The trial judge ruled that Bland's proof about the comments regarding the "need for younger sales staff" were inadequate to avoid a summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals agreed. If this is complying with the legal rules mandating that a case be viewed from the perspective of the non-moving party, in cases where summary disposition is sought, we don't get it.
It would appear that Bland's evidence clearly raised a question of fact with regard to age discrimination. The Court said the comments didn't demonstrate a "motive" of discrimination in demoting and ultimately firing Bland. Perhaps instead of the Vice President mouthing a discriminatory intent, we needed to hear it from the corporation, itself? We don't get it. Too many judges are too eager to "clear the decks" to "unburden commerce." As a result, justice and due process suffer.