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Jury should hear discrimination suit filed by fired ‘salesman of the year’

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The reasons a company gave for firing its most productive salesman – who also happened to be its oldest – raise potential credibility issues, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The judges decided the salesman’s age discrimination lawsuit should proceed to a jury.

The appellate court reversed summary judgment in favor of Temco Machinery Inc., which makes custom fire trucks and other rescue equipment, on John Mullin’s lawsuit. Mullin was 56 when the company fired him because, according to the CEO, “we’re paying you too much for your sales.” The company also claimed that his sales performance had declined and he didn’t show up at events with clients. Mullin had received the company’s Salesman of the Year awards the two years prior to his firing.  

Just days after he and another salesman in his 50s were fired, Temco hired two inexperienced salesman in their 20s.

The District Court granted Temco’s motion for summary judgment on Mullin’s suit alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

“A reasonable jury could conclude that Temco fired Mullin because of his age,” Judge Joel Flaum wrote in John W. Mullin II v. Temco Machinery Inc., 13-1338. “Mullin has put forth ample circumstantial evidence, including examples of suspicious timing and ambiguous statements. Moreover, each of Temco’s alleged reasons for firing Mullin is either genuinely contested, seemingly inaccurate, or both.”

Flaum pointed to the CEO’s claims that Mullin didn’t attend an event hosted by a fire department or show up at work to give a tour to a client. But Mullin refuted those claims with testimony from individuals that he was at the fire department event and he was present and gave the tour to the client.

Although some of the incidents Mullin points to, standing alone, would not suffice for Mullin to survive summary judgment, when considered together, “they point to a string of questionable conduct, from the suspicious timing of personnel decisions to ambiguous statements about age to multiple seemingly inaccurate allegations,” Flaum wrote.

The case is remanded for further proceedings.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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