7th Circuit affirms dismissal of workplace discrimination suit

January 28, 2015

A Sudanese woman’s discrimination suit against a Jeffersonville shipyard where she had worked as a welder was properly dismissed, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Awok Ani-Deng worked at Jeffboat for more than five years until she was laid off in October 2011 as part of a general reduction in force. She was notified a few months later that she was being recalled, but she failed to reply to a certified letter within the allotted time.

Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote for the panel that the only evidence of discrimination is an affidavit by another former employee who said the real reasons for Ani-Deng’s demotions prior to layoff were “about how she was treated as a woman, as an African and as a non-English speaker by those who had supervision over her work.” The affidavit also said the plaintiff was treated differently than male welders and that she was laid off as retaliation for her complaints.

“The affidavit was entitled to no weight, as it had no foundation,” Posner wrote in affirming dismissal in Awok Ani-Deng v. Jeffboat, LLC, 14-2155. The affidavit “should have named the alleged miscreants or at least provided some basis for identifying them.”

“Without the affidavit, the plaintiff had nothing. The district judge was therefore on sound ground in dismissing her suit,” the panel concluded.




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