With 30 years’ experience in Dorsey’s Trial Department and Labor & Employment Group, David has worked on a wide variety of litigation, arbitration and appeals, at all levels and at all stages of the case. Whether trying a case himself, working as part of a larger team, or writing and arguing appeals, David’s two goals are (1) to make sure the client understands the risks – and potential rewards – in any given litigation; and (2) to obtain the best possible result. David also believes strongly that all clients, from the largest corporations in the world being sued for a billion dollars to a pro bono individual trying to recover a few hundred dollars, are entitled to Dorsey’s very best service.
Question: We just went through a five-person layoff, and one of the individuals laid off (an African American) has hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue for racial discrimination. I have enormous confidence in the fairness of the individual manager making the layoff selections, and those selections were based on years of performance ratings. However, the lawyer hired by our ex-employee says that doesn’t matter, because the ex-employee’s direct supervisor was racially biased. He says that the bias of the direct supervisor taints the entire process and that the manager was merely a “cat’s paw.” Let’s assume for a moment that the direct supervisor is a little rough around the edges. Do we have a problem here, even though the manager is fair and unbiased? And what the heck is a “cat’s paw” anyway? Answer→
Question: We learned that some of our employees may have been engaging in unethical, and perhaps even illegal, behavior. We don’t tolerate this, so we hired a law firm to conduct an investigation, and based on the results of that investigation, we terminated the employees. The terminated employees were high-profile employees, and we told some people why they were fired. Also, when we fired the employees, we briefly referenced the investigation, but didn’t provide them with any substantive information about it. Do you see any problems with that?
Question: One of our male supervisors wants to fire a female employee who complained that he was sexually harassing her. The harassment allegations appear to have some substance: he asked her for pictures of herself in a bikini; told her to “stay off [her] knees,” which she viewed as sexual innuendo; and told her that her regulation length shorts were too short. Also, the grounds for termination (driving a vehicle with the door open, creating a safety hazard) have been overlooked in other situations. We are a little worried that she will claim we are retaliating against her for the sexual harassment complaint. But the supervisor says he never heard about the sexual harassment complaint. So, if he didn’t know about the complaint, he could not possibly retaliate against her on the basis of that complaint, right? You could get this case thrown out before it ever went to trial, right?
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