It is much more difficult to prove employment discrimination when there is a lack of evidence of negative comments or numerical data. A recent non-precedential opinion by the Third Circuit demonstrates that when there is numerical data supporting allegations and negative comments, employees can prevail. In Butt v. United Brotherhood of Carpenters, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 2221 (3rd Cir. January 31, 2013) four female African-American carpenters filed a lawsuit against their union alleging that in making job referrals the union discriminated on the basis of race and gender and retaliated for engaging in protected activities, including filing charges of discrimination, making complaints directly to the Union, and testifying before a Mayor’s Advisory Committee. In Butt, the Plaintiffs provided raw statistics comparing the annual hours worked by men and women showing a drop in annual hours worked by women and statements by the Union Business Agent on multiple occasions that “‘I got these jobs but . . . I can’t give them to you,'” and “my people are still out of work.” Which one of the Plaintiffs interpreted “to mean [she] was not a white man and those were the ones that [were] his people,” and that she “was not a part of that [clique].”
In Butt, Third Circuit reversed the District Court and remanded the case finding that the Business Agent’s comment that his people were still out of work was a disputed fact which supported the race and gender discrimination claims. The Third Circuit also found that the District Court erred in finding that an adverse employment action is limited to just “a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits” and in the context of a Title VII retaliation claim against a union, retaliatory actions can include other actions which may “dissuade employees from complaining or assisting in complaints about discrimination.” Thus, the Third Circuit found that the Business Agent’s letter forwarded to the press which arguably did not reflect favorably on the Plaintiffs could suffice as a retaliatory action.
For more information on race discrimination, gender discrimination, retaliation and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126519.html, http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126517.html, http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126498.html