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Neither in purpose nor in consequence can favoritism resulting from a personal relationship be equated to sex discrimination.
Plaintiff Jay Preston, a dentist, charged that the Wisconsin Health Fund, his former employer, discriminated against him on account of his sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., when they replaced him as director of the Fund's dental clinic with a female co-worker. Plaintiff further contended that the CEO, in procuring the substitution, conspired with the co-worker, with whom he was possibly having an affair, to destroy the plaintiff’s contractual relationship with the employer in violation of Wisconsin's common law of tortious interference. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. Plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the employer on the plaintiff's discrimination claim because the mere fact that more women than men got large raises, together with the romantically motivated favoritism shown the plaintiff's co-worker, was not enough to raise a triable issue of discrimination. The court further held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the CEO and the co-worker on the plaintiff's tortious interference claim because the plaintiff failed to show that the CEO defamed or defrauded him or otherwise committed an independent tort against him in procuring his discharge and replacement by the co-worker.