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Race discrimination claim against Dow Chemical is dismissed

The Sixth Circuit recently threw out a race discrimination claim brought against Dow Chemical.  The discharged employee, Chen, argued that she was fired because of her ethnicity, however, Dow responded that she was discharged after six years because of "poor performance."  Dow claimed that when it down-sized its automotive group and moved it from Auburn Hills to Midland, Chen, a "receivables specialist" failed to adjust to her new duties and the new organization.  Chen admitted she encountered difficulty during the transition, but claimed that the performance argument was a "pretext," as she performed adequately.

The Court noted that in order to prove her claim of pretextual firing, Chen was required to show that the proferred reasons for the firing were not based in fact and that they either were not the actual motivation or were insufficient motivation, to support the negative employment decision. Citing a number of specific complaints and criticisms raised by Dow, the Court held that "when an employer reasonably and honestly relies on particularized facts in making an employment decision, it is entitled to summary judgment on pretext even if its conclusion is later shown to be 'mistaken, foolish, trivial or baseless.' "  In other words, the employee may have proved that the employer was wrong, but she has not proved that it was discriminating; conversely, the employer has proved that it was uninformed or just plain dumb--not biased.

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