Manesh K. Rath, Keller and Heckman Partner, Featured on CSPAN
Manesh K. Rath, a Partner at the law firm Keller and Heckman LLP, participated in a panel discussion at the National Press Club that was televised on CSPAN 2. The participants talked with reporters about both sides of the April 18 U.S. Supreme Court case, BCI Coco Cola Bottling Co. of Los Angles vs. EEOC. This case involves federal anti-discrimination laws. The other panelists included leading experts from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The National Partnerships for Women and Families, Workplace Fairness, and The University of Maryland, School of Law.
Mr. Rath was featured on the panel due to his involvement in the BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Company case. On February 20, 2007, Mr. Rath filed an amicus brief in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Los Angeles v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM). The case examines the circumstances in which an employer is liable under federal anti-discrimination laws based on a subordinate supervisor’s discriminatory bias where an employee was actually terminated by a neutral, unbiased decisionmaker.
Stephen Peters, an employee of BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Company, was asked to work over a weekend. Mr. Peters refused. His supervisor informed his human resource manager of Mr. Peters’ refusal. The human resource professional asked several questions, examined Mr. Peters’ personnel file, and then decided to terminate Mr. Peters. Mr. Peters sued, and submitted evidence that his supervisor was racially biased against African Americans.
The Tenth Circuit, adhering to holdings in several other federal circuits, held that an employer is liable for discrimination under Title VII if a biased supervisor’s report was the cause of the HR manager’s decision to terminate. The Tenth Circuit further held that the employer can avoid liability by conducting an adequate investigation prior to deciding to terminate, and that, at the least, that investigation should include asking the employee his side of the story.
Manesh Rath argued on behalf of SHRM that Title VII does not permit the courts to require an HR professional to conduct a full investigation for every termination. Mr. Rath and SHRM further argued that HR professionals should be allowed to use professional experience and business judgment to determine the appropriate action to take based on the circumstances at hand in order to achieve fairness and compliance.
For more information on the U.S. Supreme Court Case on Title VII supervisor bias or other legislative information, contact Manesh K. Rath at (202) 434-4182 or by e-mail at Rath@khlaw.com.