Black employee fired after complained of Disproportionate workload - case settles for $100,000

In the media:

  • Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Woman alleged race was factor in unfair treatment at work She was dismissed after confronting boss over job duties" 10/05/2017

Facts of case:

Plaintiff Stephanie Jones, a black woman, was approached one day by her white female counter-part that Stephanie was given more assignments than others and many that were not a part of her job.  Coincidentally, Stephanie was the only black woman in the position and the only one with the increase work load.  She confronted her white supervisor, opposing this obvious discrimination. Her white supervisor responded by setting Stephanie up to fail.

Specifically, her white supervisor made her job as onerous as possible by taking work from other, non-complaining employees and assigning Plaintiff it as extra required job duties. Stephanie, however, stayed true to her work ethic, and worked 15 hours per day to keep up.

After working through this for months, Stephanie finally went up the chain-of-command to complain about how she was being treated.  Stephanie went to her boss's white woman supervisor, for help and to complain, but this supervisor just “circled the wagons” and backed up what was happening. Together, they then resorted to manufacturing pretextual after-the-fact documents to try to justify wrongfully discharging Stephanie allegedly based on job performance. Within 10 days of complaining up the chain, black employee, Stephanie Jones, was fired.

In order to fire her Defendants created documents in such haste that they didn’t correlate with the real-time events, and even the author of them couldn’t explain how the plan to fire Stephanie appeared in her own personal handwritten notes, which were written a full 6 weeks prior to Plaintiff’s termination.

So, Defendants’ story they concocted story that they didn’t decide to fire Stephanie until a few days before they did so, blew up in their faces.  This phony, manufactured evidence didn’t go unnoticed – Defendants’ former black HR manager/employee, noted in a memo, “I do not have any notes or formal documentation about her performance to support a termination of her employment”. This same HR manager, testified that she believed Defendants were doing things in meetings that were “illegal”.

If these actions weren’t enough to prove the racism, Plaintiff’s position was then filled by a white man.

Though the case was potentially worth hundreds of thousands, because Stephanie was such a diligent and capable worker, Stephanie found new comparable employment within 9 months. The case settled for $100,000 through the Court’s ADR process.

Summary of the case:

Type of Action: ELCRA Discrimination/Race

Injuries Alleged: Loss of job, lost wages, outrage/emotional distress/mental anguish

Court: Genesee County Circuit Court

Name of Judge: Hon. Judith Fullerton

Settlement: $100,000

Date of Settlement: 9/13/17

Key To Winning: Defendants’ former black HR Manager/employee’s testimony which revealed that Defendants were manufacturing documents after-the-fact, in order to support a pretextual proffered business reason concerning Plaintiff’s job performance to cover up their discrimination against the black Plaintiff

Attorney for Plaintiff: Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko and Jarrett M. Pabst

Attorney for Defendants: Withheld