Magazine article HRMagazine

Employer's Conflicting Policies Result in Trial on Bias Claim

Magazine article HRMagazine

Employer's Conflicting Policies Result in Trial on Bias Claim

Article excerpt

Brockbank v. U.S. Bancorp, 9th Cir., No. 11-35618 (Jan. 28, 2013).

There was a question of fact as to whether a bank's zerotolerance discipline policy was evenly applied because it was directly contradicted by its credit card policy, and, therefore, a terminated employee was entitled to a trial on her age discrimination claim, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Sharon Brockbank, who was older than 40, worked for Bancorp as a trust officer. She was terminated after it was discovered she had charged her Verizon cellphone family plan-including lines for her children, Internet service and anti-virus software-to her corporate credit card. Bancorp contended that this violated its zero-tolerance policy for credit card use because she deliberately charged personal expenses. After she was terminated, her accounts were distributed to the remaining trust officers, most of whom were younger than Brockbank.

In holding that Brockbank could proceed to trial with her age discrimination claim, the court of appeals found there was a question of fact as to whether Bancorp's reason for termination-zero tolerance of credit card misuse-was pretextual. …

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