Firing for *&$%-laced Facebook post is not reverse-race discrimination, you guys

March 22, 2013
By Eric B. Meyer on March 22, 2013 7:00 AM | | Comments
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School teacher, Lawrence Smizer, is a regular Facebook wordsmith:

To all my family that fought my sister tooth and nail over some BULLSHIT (And you know who you are) FUCK YOU BITCHES!!!! HE IS GOING HOME WHERE HE BELONGS!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHA AHAH HAHAH HAAH

Smizer was Facebook friends with two co-workers. They dimed him out to the school and Smizer was fired. So, he sued for reverse-race discrimination.

Reverse-race discrimination, mmm-kay. How do you think it worked out for him?

Find out after the jump...

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Mr. Smizer believed that the reasons for his firing were inconsistent and, thus, pretext for reverse-race discrimination. Indeed, the school claimed that it had fired him for the Facebook post AND viewing pornography on school computers AND keeping porno mags in his classroom and keeping a slovenly classroom AND time sheet discrepancies.

Not reverse-race discrimination, concluded an Illinois federal court (here):

In order for the explanations for termination to be characterized as "shifting," they must be either contradictory or inconsistent with the original reasons given, rather than merely being additional reasons for termination.... Similarly, here, CMELC may have subsequently bolstered its record for firing Plaintiff with more detail about prior infractions, but it has never backed away from its position that the Facebook posting was the primary basis for termination. These additional reasons may demonstrate an aggressive defense of its actions, perhaps leading it to occasionally over-defend itself, but they do not create "an inference of mendacity.

IMHO, the employer dodged a bullet in how it handled this termination. Yes, there may be times where four different bases for termination arise at precisely the same moment. Or, progressive discipline as to each offense could lead an employer to cite all of them when the last offense leads to termination.

But, when it comes to defending against discrimination claims, my blogging buddy Molly DiBianca, who posted here about an earlier discovery dispute in this case, has some sound advice: "one reason to terminate an employee is all you need--and all you should have."

To that, I'll add one more tip: make sure that each factor that in any way contributes to the termination decision is well documented.  Otherwise, an employer relying on its own say-so portends a recipe for disaster.