District Court Abused Discretion in Excluding
Evidence that Supervisor Often
Referred to Women in Derogatory Terms
v. Virginia Union University (4th Cir. 1999)
February 19, 1999 The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
agreed with Thomas H. Roberts of the law firm of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.
, in Taylor v. Virginia Union University, reversing the United States District Court for
abusing its discretion in excluding evidence that Roberts contended was highly probative
of unlawful discriminatory intent in two sex discrimination cases.
The Court stated "it is well established that prior acts and statements
should be admitted where necessary to show state of mind," It is well settled
that a plaintiff can meet her burden of proving intentional discrimination by providing
evidence of remarks by decision makers reflecting a discriminatory attitude.
District Court erred in dismissing
a sexual harassment claim simply because
the Richmond office of the EEOC
ineptly drafted the charge
ignoring the sexual harassment claim set forth in the affidavit
The United State Court of Appeals also agreed with Roberts that the claimants should
not be limited to the official "charge" more often than not poorly drafted by
EEOC bureaucrats. The Court stated, "It seems beyond cavil that the reasonable
investigation of an EEOC complaint would include an investigation of facts alleged
in an affidavit filed with the complaint. Therefore, we may consider the
plaintiffs statements in a sworn affidavit that she filed in support of the
charge when determining whether a claim has been properly exhausted."
District Court erred
by accepting the defendants
pretextual basis for failure to promote
where there is evidence that the person responsible for less than satisfactory
evaluations has discriminatory animus
Where the plaintiff was not promoted because of an unsatisfactory evaluation which
supposedly rendered her "unqualified" for the promotion, while she was
continuously appointed to the Acting Shift Supervisor, suggests that her performance was
satisfactory notwithstanding the official evaluation to the contrary. The District Court
may not dismiss the claim.
Thomas H. Roberts, Esq
Post Script - The Fourth Circuit en banc subsequently reversed itself
The facts and circumstances of each case are unique and
therefore the fact that a law firm has obtained significant verdicts and results
in other cases in no way guarantees that other cases will have similar results.