The Three Part Analysis
The plaintiff’s lawsuit rested on indirect evidence, which triggers the three-part analysis.
- First, the employee must put forth evidence that, on its face, illustrates the alleged discrimination.
- Second, the employer is then required to identify a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment occurrence(s).
- Third, if the employer does so, the plaintiff must prove the employer’s offered reason was a mere pretext for the discrimination.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the plaintiff easily satisfied an allegation of discrimination on its face. In response, HP indicated that the plaintiff was terminated because his responsibilities could be handled by others.
In analyzing the third factor—whether HP’s asserted reason was a pretext—the appeals court emphasized the rule that an employer is liable for discrimination or retaliation that a supervisor initiates, even if that supervisor is not the individual who ultimately takes the adverse action against the employee.