Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.
Virginia's Civil Rights & Personal Injury Law Firm

(804) 783-2000


News - 4th Circuit Reverses Ruling

District Court Abused Discretion in Excluding
Evidence that Supervisor Often
Referred to Women in Derogatory Terms

Taylor 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 plaintiff’s 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 defendant’s
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
(804) 783-2000


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.