button Vol. 5
No. 6
Winter 2000

line INSIDE line

America's Work Ethic: How Hard Do We Really Work?
line Terminating Employees: Ease the Pain
line NLRB Allows Temps to Join Unions
line Woman Not Hired Because She Valued Family Life Too Much
line Notes on Recent NLRB Decisions
line Leave for Domestic Violence-Related Services
- New Law
line The Trusted Advisor
- Book Review
line Briefs

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

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button $300,000 Award to Woman Not Hired Because Her Boss Believed She Valued Family Life Too Much.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's decision that a law firm is liable for $300,000 for wrongful discrimination. The law firm reneged on a job offer to attorney Jill Carmichael because of her gender. She had worked part-time for the firm from 1989 to 1991 while she was attending law school. Carmichael claims that in 1991 she left the firm temporarily to study for the bar exam, and she asked a senior partner to consider her for a position as associate, and he said he would.

However, after she passed the exam in 1992, she learned that the firm had hired a male attorney not even licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. She also learned that, at a meeting to discuss her application for an attorney's position, the senior partner stated that he felt that her priorities were elsewhere -- with her family -- and that had he known that she was pregnant at the time he hired her in 1989, he would not have hired her in the first place.

The Supreme Court noted this was a "mixed motive" case, meaning one in which an employer has several motives for making an employment decision. Specifically, the law firm argued that they reneged on their offer because Carmichael could not commit to then in the manner they required. They argued her inability to commit to them was because they knew from the time of her initial interview that she had a small child at home and wanted more children; they soon after learned that she was pregnant with her second child.

The Court stated in this mixed motive case, while one of the motives may be illegitimate, like sex discrimination, the demonstration of a legitimate reason does not erase the influence of the illegitimate one. In deciding the case, the Supreme Court noted that employers must shoulder a heavier load of the burden of proof in such discrimination cases.

Notes on Recent NLRB Decisions Next Page

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