In Jones v. Pate Rehab. Endeavors, Inc., Docket No. 14-CV-2218 (N.D. Tx. June 17, 2016), the Court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff’s age discrimination claim under the ADEA.  By way of background, Defendant employed Plaintiff as a Patient Transporter, which required him to transport patients in a motor vehicle.  During his employment, Plaintiff was involved in three car accidents in less than a three-year period.  Under the employer’s interpretation of its policies, Plaintiff’s employment was required to be terminated.  Accordingly, at the age of 73, Plaintiff’s employment was terminated.  In support of its motion for summary judgment, Defendant asserted that Plaintiff’s employment was terminated in accordance with its workplace policies; not age-based animus.  In opposition, Plaintiff produced evidence that, among other things, a 28 year old Patient Transporter was not terminated despite being involved in four accidents in a two year period.  Defendant, however, asserted that its failure to terminate the younger Patient Transporter was an administrative error.  In denying summary judgment, and finding that an issue existed worthy of a jury trial, the Court held that Defendant’s inconsistent application of its workplace policies, and its assertion that it mistakenly failed to terminate the younger employee, were issues of fact precluding summary judgment.  “[A] reasonable jury could disagree that Defendant’s stated reason for Plaintiff’s discharge was the true or real reason for terminating him, and find that the stated reason was pretext for intentional age discrimination.”  As a result, Plaintiff’s age discrimination claim would proceed to trial.

This case serves a reminder that employers must vigilantly monitor consistent application of their workplace policies.  Inconsistent application, even if inadvertent, may allow an otherwise defensible claim to survive summary judgment.

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Photo of Paul J. Siegel Paul J. Siegel

Paul J. Siegel is a Principal in the Long Island, New York office of Jackson Lewis P.C.  For many years he was the chair of the firm’s national Wage and Hour Practice Group.  Mr. Siegel has represented management in wage hour, employment discrimination, affirmative action and labor matters since 1976.  He regularly appears before federal and state agencies and courts in various equal employment, wage hour and labor law matters.  In April of 1991, Mr. Siegel argued a landmark age discrimination case before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Siegel graduated magna cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1973 and received his Juris Doctor degree with honors from Emory University School of Law in 1976.  Mr. Siegel frequently addresses supervisors and managers to assist them in developing the skills needed to manage effectively in today’s challenging legal environment.  He has appeared on national and local television and radio, and has presented seminars and written articles concerning wage hour, affirmative action, discrimination and labor law matters across the country.  A 2003 peer survey identified him as one of Long Island’s top ten employment attorneys.

In the insurance industry, he is a member of the Professional Liability Underwriters Society (PLUS) and has been a featured speaker at PLUS, National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO), Professional Insurance Agents (PIA), Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association (PIWA), and Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS) conferences.  He has lectured about employment issues to meetings of the New York and Kentucky Bar Associations, the 1998 Conference of Justices of the Courts of the State of New York and many other industry groups.

Education

  • Emory University, 
J.D., 1976
  • State University of New York at Buffalo, 
B.A., 1973 
Phi Beta Kappa

Bar & Professional Association Memberships

  • New York State Bankers Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Professional Liability Underwriters Society