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September 2015

Chicago Team Secures Summary Judgment in Age and National Origin Discrimination Case

On September 29, Gordon & Rees Chicago partner Patrick F. Moran and associate Goli Rahimi obtained a complete grant of summary judgment in favor of their client, a manufacturer in the power generating industry.

After his termination, Plaintiff, a 65-year old former COO and VP of Indian national origin, filed his lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asserting claims for age and national origin discrimination under Title VII.  Plaintiff alleged that his termination was based on his age and ancestry. Plaintiff’s theory was that a management turnover at the company resulted in a younger, “whiter” executive class, which left him without a job.

After extensive discovery, Moran and Rahimi filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the given reason for termination – that the existing management duties had been largely taken over by others more capable – was undisputed. In opposition, Plaintiff alleged that he had developed sufficient evidence to support his claims, including company emails that reflected that one of the senior executives “didn’t like Indian people” and that Plaintiff was told in the weeks preceding termination that he should “slow down” and “think about retirement.”

In granting the motion for summary judgment on both of Plaintiff’s claims, the Court ruled, that while a genuine question of fact existed as to whether Plaintiff was meeting his employer’s reasonable expectations, Defendant’s proffered reason for termination – lack of work – was legitimate and well-supported by the evidentiary record.  The court noted that Plaintiff’s lack of work “became apparent as time went on” and noted Plaintiff’s failure to counter Defendant’s alleged legitimate reason for termination with any evidence at all.  Most notably, the Court stated that, while not dispositive, it was unlikely that the founder of the company and Plaintiff’s ultimate supervisor (who was also of Indian national-origin) “would have harbored such ill-will toward fellow Asian-Americans.”

Patrick F. Moran



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