Thursday, June 28, 2012
We are told at a young age that violence is not the answer. Oddly enough, there is merit to our parent’s early teachings. A former employee of General Electric Lighting, LLC, Thomas Ford, brought a suit against General Electric Lighting, LLC on the basis of race discrimination and retaliation. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. On appeal the Fourth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment. The incident that gave rise to the suit sprung from an altercation between Ford and another co-worker. Ford, an African American, was confronted by a white co-worker after having a disagreement on a prior date. The confrontation led to a physical altercation and both employees where later terminated. While Ford may have had some evidence to support his claims, General Electric Lighting, LLC had a policy against workplace violence. Both employees engaged in the physical altercation, thus both employees violated the employer’s policy against workplace violence. The employer is within its right to terminate an employment relationship for violations of policy.
Generally, a state that recognizes employment at will both the employee and the employer may terminate the employment relationship at any time. However, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee based on discrimination or retaliation. An employee must prove all the elements necessary for each cause of action to prevail. Visit the hyperlink below to identify what an employee must prove and why Ford was unable to prevail on neither his claim for race discrimination nor retaliation. Ford v. General Electric