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Firm Defeats Summary Judgement in Age Discrimination Case

On December 22, Judge Voorhees in the Western District of North Carolina denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment in Fox v. Alexander County.  Terry Fox, the plaintiff, had been employed by Alexander County EMS since 1983 and had been promoted several times. In 2006, Fox was demoted and replaced by a younger worker, purportedly because of a slow response to a call.  The Judge, however, concluded that plaintiff had “ample evidence” that would allow a reasonable jury to believe that the reasons the county gave for demoting Fox – mainly that his team did not meet a standard response time on a call – were a pretext for age discrimination.

Accordingly, Fox’s claims for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA) and under North Carolina state law can proceed to trial.  This decision is a significant victory because North Carolina federal courts rarely rule for employment law plaintiffs when deciding summary judgment motions.  Fox is represented by Joshua Van Kampen.

More from the opinion below:  Read more…

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Fourth Circuit Rules for Plaintiff in Significant Gender Discrimination Opinion

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a ringing opinion for employees in Merritt v. Old Dominion Freight Lines, a gender discrimination case until Title VII.  The Court’s discussion of gender discrimination, sex stereotyping, and a corporate culture of discrimination is excellent and will make very useful precedent.  A long-ish discussion is therefore in order.  As the Court stated though, the quick summary is that plaintiff “Deborah Merritt’s story is one of a certain grit and perseverance.”

Old Dominion is a nationwide trucking firm that employs thousands as “line haul” drivers and “pickup and delivery” drivers.  Line haul drivers travel across state lines and often spend nights and weekends away from home, while pickup and delivery drivers work locally and rarely work nights or weekends.  The pickup and delivery job requires more lifting and therefore is more physically demanding than line haul driver.

Merritt worked for Old Dominion for six years as a line haul driver based in Greensboro, North Carolina, before she sought a travel and pickup delivery driver job so she could spend more time at home. Beginning in 2002, Merritt applied for several open pickup and delivery positions at Old Dominion’s Lynchburg, Va., facility, but initially was turned down for jobs that went to less-experienced male drivers.  Various managers alleged stated that women were not suited to be pickup drivers.

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