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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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  1. Paul Ogden doing a fine job of remembering his peer Gary Welsh with the post below and a call for an Indy gettogether to celebrate Gary .... http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2016/05/indiana-loses-citizen-journalist-giant.html Castaways of Indiana, unite!

  2. It's unfortunate that someone has attempted to hijack the comments to promote his own business. This is not an article discussing the means of preserving the record; no matter how it's accomplished, ethics and impartiality are paramount concerns. When a party to litigation contracts directly with a reporting firm, it creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Court reporters, attorneys and judges are officers of the court and must abide by court rules as well as state and federal laws. Parties to litigation have no such ethical responsibilities. Would we accept insurance companies contracting with judges? This practice effectively shifts costs to the party who can least afford it while reducing costs for the party with the most resources. The success of our justice system depends on equal access for all, not just for those who have the deepest pockets.

  3. As a licensed court reporter in California, I have to say that I'm sure that at some point we will be replaced by speech recognition. However, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a lot farther away than three years. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hubbard has ever sat in a courtroom or a deposition room where testimony is being given. Not all procedures are the same, and often they become quite heated with the ends of question and beginning of answers overlapping. The human mind can discern the words to a certain extent in those cases, but I doubt very much that a computer can yet. There is also the issue of very heavy accents and mumbling. People speak very fast nowadays, and in order to do that, they generally slur everything together, they drop or swallow words like "the" and "and." Voice recognition might be able to produce some form of a transcript, but I'd be very surprised if it produces an accurate or verbatim transcript, as is required in the legal world.

  4. Really enjoyed the profile. Congratulations to Craig on living the dream, and kudos to the pros who got involved to help him realize the vision.

  5. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

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