Release of Unfavorable Information on Former Employee to Prospective Employer Is Not Inherently Discriminatory

On November 4, 2009, in Taylor v. Amcor Flexibles, Inc., the United States District Court, dismissed the claim of a plaintiff asserting that the disclosure of negative employment evaluations to a prospective employer is not inherently discriminatory. Plaintiff Alonzo Taylor, an African American, began his employment with defendant Amcor Flexibles in early 2005. By November of that year, defendant became displeased with plaintiff’s performance and placed him on a Performance Improvement Plan. After his performance failed to improve, plaintiff was terminated. Over a year later, defendants responded to an inquiry from a prospective employer for the plaintiff indicating that he was released for performance issues. Plaintiff thereafter filed suit for racial discrimination pursuant to Title VII, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and for retaliation under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), as well as common law defamation. The Court employed the McDonnell-Douglas test and concluded that although plaintiff made out a prima facie case of discrimination, defendant was able to articulate a nondiscriminatory reason for dismissal. The Court stated that it did not wish to second guess that criteria used to evaluate employees, absent a showing that the criteria utilized was inherently discriminatory. The Court, therefore, granted Summary Judgment to the defendant. Finally, although defendants did release unfavorable information regarding plaintiff to a possible subsequent employer, the Court found that since plaintiff signed an authorization for the release of the information, the qualified privilege of course of legitimate business functions attached. The Court therefore dismissed plaintiff’s defamation claims. DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis & Lehrer, PC is a full service law firm in New Jersey which provides a broad range of legal services, including the representation of parties in employment matters. For additional information about the matters in this bulletin or in the firm’s Employment Practice, please contact Richard P. Flaum, Esq.

CATEGORIES: Employment Law

DiFrancesco, Bateman, Kunzman, Davis, Lehrer & Flaum PC (http://www.dbnjlawblog.com) is a full service law firm in New Jersey which provides a broad range of legal services. For additional information about the matters in this bulletin or in the firm’s Employment Practice, please contact Richard P. Flaum, Esq.

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