Department of Labor makes employer pay overtime; her firing two days later is "mere coincidence"
In August of 2007, Carol Upton reported her employer for failing to pay her overtime. She was given the freeze in response. On January 7, the Department of Labor ruled in her favor, compelling her employer, Phoenix Composite Solutions, Inc., to pay the overtime. Two days later she was fired "because she had always been a problem employee." She sued, but her claim was dismissed when judges Kirsten Frank Kelly, Joel Hoekstra and William Whitbeck ruled that her firing two days after the DOL decision was a mere coincidence.
The judges held that "Upton provided no evidence that there was any connection between her filing a wage claim and her being fired." This is what happens when doctrine and demagoguery interfere with common sense: a jury should have decided whether Upton was really a problem employee or whether she was fired in retaliation for disputing her right to overtime. A holding that her firing two days after she won her administrative claim did not constitute evidence of retaliation is simply a repudiation of common sense and of Upton's constitutional right to a decision by her peers--to say nothing of her statutory right to be protected from retailiation for exercising a civil right. We haven't been keeping track, but a review of this panel's decisions would probably show that they ruled in favor of the insurer or employer-corporation on every one of its decisions: it is sad when you can predict the outcome of a case without knowing any of the facts, just by knowing who the judges are.