Race And Poor Job Performance Are Not Always Linked
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) July 4, 2013 - Demoted workers may genuinely not be meeting employer’s expectations.
“In this recent case, Banthia v. Roche Diagnostics, No. 11-3290, 7th Cir., 2012, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the defendant employer. Justices ruled that even if a demoted worker had consistently received good performance reviews, it does not mean that the employee is still meeting workplace expectations,” stated Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.
The worker in this case, born in India, was over the age of 40 and worked as a scientist at Roche Diagnostics. Her job was to assess materials that created diabetic test strips used to measure glucose levels. She had what the company considered to be satisfactory performance reviews, with minor improvement needed in a few areas.
Roche Diagnostics received a warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), noting problems in their laboratories. Put on notice, company management overhauled their existing system of checking materials. The change in how materials were processed meant all scientists, including the plaintiff, had to comprehend more technical information, write protocols and create and use spreadsheets.
“Lab scientists who did not have the necessary skills to adhere to the new protocols were demoted and received a cut in pay. The plaintiff did not have the background necessary to perform the new protocols. She sued Roche Diagnostics for racial discrimination, indicating other younger personnel were hired to replace her and others who were also demoted,” Coffey explained.
At trial, the defense suggested the plaintiff had not been meeting workplace expectations when she was demoted. The plaintiff indicated her past job performance reviews proved she was meeting her employer’s expectations. “While the court agreed she did have good reviews, the fact was that she was not meeting the new expectations, which were reasonable, given the FDA's warning to the company,” said Coffey. The case was dismissed.
The takeaway in this case is that if a company is going to change the scope of jobs within their organization, they need to have solid reasons for doing so. In this instance, when the FDA indicated the company needed to beef up its testing protocols, there was a legitimate need to change job requirements. “In short, it was not an excuse to demote older workers from other countries. It was a required change demanded by a federal agency,” Coffey stated.
Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com
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