Eighth Circuit Reverses Race Discrimination Suit
Oren Jones, an African-American, worked for Evergreen Packaging and supervised five employees, all Caucasian. One of the employees that Jones supervised, Jeff Connor, sprayed Jones with water. Both Jones and Connor received written counseling. On another occasion, Connor approached Jones holding a long wooden pole with a metal hook attached to it and moved the hook as if he were going to hit Jones with it. Again, both men received written counseling. While Jones was speaking to two other employees, he made a comment that if Connor caused Jones to be fired, Jones would “just walk up to people and go bang” (as he mimicked pulling a trigger). Jones was placed on leave without pay and could not return to work until he completed workplace anger classes and signed a last-chance agreement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Evergreen Packaging and determined that the company offered a legitimate reason for disciplining Jones, and he could not establish that the reason was a pretext for discrimination. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that Jones established a prima facie case of discrimination and material issues of fact existed as to whether Evergreen Packaging’s given reason for suspending Jones was pretextual.
Jones v. Evergreen Packaging, Inc., No. 13-1354 (8th Cir. Oct. 28, 2013).comments powered by Disqus