The 52-year old plaintiff, Dennis Griffith, was awarded over $2 million in damages against his employer for firing him five years after it promoted him as general manager of its scrap metal facility in Tacoma. ?He alleged he was fired because of his religion (Mormon) asserting that his employer was predominantly? ?Jewish,?? that? ?Jews? ?control? ?the industry and stick together, that other employees told polygamy jokes, and that a competitor of the company questioned how he got to be manager without being Jewish.? ?He also sued for age discrimination ?because? his ?replacement ?was younger and explaining ?I don?t have anything that I can lay a tangible hold on as to why I was released.? Disagreeing, the Court of Appeals reversed the jury?s verdict.?? The Court explained that the employer established, with uncontroverted evidence, that Griffith participated in serious improper or questionable management practices including employees being paid cash for undocumented overtime and bonuses for not documenting work-related injuries, permitting an employee? ?to? ?run? ?an?? undocumented? ??company store,? accumulating large amounts of unprocessed scrap metal at the facility, purchasing scrap metal containing asbestos, running up hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess costs each month, and? authorizing? a? customer? with? a? key ?to? the facility to take extremely hazardous chemicals free of charge and without employee assistance or protective equipment. ?The Court also commented that ??When? an ?employee ?is ?both ?promoted ?and fired?? by?? the?? same?? decisionmakers?? within?? a relatively short period of time, there is a strong inference that he or she was not fired due to any attribute the decisionmakers were aware of at the time of the promotion.????? The Court found that Griffith failed to rebut the same actor defense regarding?? his?? religious?? discrimination?? claim. Griffith ?v. ?Schnitzer ?Steel ?Industries, ?Inc., ?No.31130-5-II (07/19/05; Quinn-Brintnall, Van Deren, Morgan).
Court Reverses $2,026,500 Jury Verdict for Age and Religious Discrimination
Jul 19, 2005