Law School Case Brief
McCann v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. - 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30334 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 7, 2012)
Pretext can be shown either through evidence of disparate treatment or by showing that the employer's proffered explanation is false or unworthy of credence.
Plaintiff Clara McCann, who was 50 years of age, worked for defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart") from Sept. 29, 1994 until her termination on April 5, 2010. McCann was hired as a stocker and sales clerk in Wal-Mart's Cleveland, Mississippi store. In 2002, she was granted leave of absence to have surgery for a brain tumor. McCann was terminated from employment because she pushed and became violent against one of her co-employees, an incident that was corroborated by co-workers. McCann applied for unemployment compensation; Wal-Mart challenged her application. An administrative law judge denied McCann's request for benefits, which was affirmed on administrative appeal. McCann then filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging age and disability discrimination. The EEOC issued her a right to sue letter. McCann timely filed suit against Wal-Mart and her manager, defendant Brian Allen, in Mississippi state court asserting age and disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, malicious prosecution, breach of contract, and defamation. Defendants removed the case to federal district court and thereafter filed motion for summary judgment.
Were defendants entitled to summary judgment on McCann's claims of disability and age discrimination?
The court granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The court ruled, inter alia, that as to McCann's claim of disability discrimination, while she was able to show that she had a disability and was qualified for her position, she failed to show that she was fired because she was disabled. Thus, she could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Even she could make a prima facie showing of disability discrimination, her claim still failed because she could not rebut defendants proof that she was terminated for pushing a co-worker. Regarding her age discrimination claim, the court ruled that it need not consider whether the elements of a valid age discrimination claim were present because McCann could not show that age was the but-for cause of her termination. Defendants had reason to believe that McCann violated workplace policy by pushing a co-worker, and it was not the court's duty to engage in judicial second-guessing of business decisions.
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