Bias Doesn’t Have To Be “Sole Reason” For Termination To Bring A Claim For Discrimination

A recent case determined that you may be able to sue for employment discrimination if your race (or gender, or national origin) was a reason for an “adverse” employment action, but not the only reason.

In Ponce v. Billington, a Cuban American applicant for a Library of Congress job filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging that he failed to get the job because of national origin, race or sex bias in violation of Title VII.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of a protected category–your race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, or disability. This means that your company cannot take any form of adverse or negative action against you because you are a member of one of these protected categories.

An adverse action is a very broad term, encompassing just about anything your employer may do that affects your employment in a negative way, including:

• Refusal to hire • Discharge • Lay off • Suspension • Unequal discipline • Poor performance review • Demotion • Adverse transfer or shift change • Pay reduction • Reduction in overtime hours • Negative references
If your employer has taken an action against you (or is threatening to take an action against you) that can actually or potentially harm you in any way, that is likely to be considered an adverse action. If you believe you have suffered an adverse employment action as the result of bias, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced Georgia discrimination lawyer right away.

In Ponce, the court evaluated whether bias must be the “sole reason” for an adverse employment decision in order for an employee to maintain an action for discrimination. The court determined that it did not; instead the court determined that where bias is a factor, but not the only relevant factor, in causing an employer to make a decision it may be possible to bring an action for discrimination.

This case is significant because in many instances more than one reason may lead to an adverse decision. However, if bias factors into an employer’s decision-making process and leads to an adverse decision, then it may be possible to bring a discrimination lawsuit.

For more information, or if you believe you have been subjected to an adverse employment decision as the result of bias, please contact the top Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.