A recent lawsuit by a former Clubhouse Manager alleging age and race discrimination against the Detroit Tigers provides some important takeaways for employers. The complaint focuses on positive performance evaluations to challenge the Team’s claim that the Clubhouse Manager was lawfully terminated due to poor performance.
Specifically, the Clubhouse Manager claims that the Tigers’ reliance on the 2017-2018 survey is pretextual and that he was really terminated based on his age and race. According to the complaint, he consistently received positive written performance evaluations. The only exceptions were for his 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons, which noted that improvement was needed in certain areas. However, the Clubhouse Manager claims that the evaluation also recognized that much of the criticism was beyond his control and based on substandard facilities the Tigers provided visiting teams compared to other ballparks.
The case is at its inception, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The performance evaluation is certainly going to be carefully scrutinized by the parties and the court.
discrimination claims: Takeaway
Performance evaluations are an important tool for employers to measure the job performance of their employees. As the Detroit Tigers lawsuit shows, evaluations can also be used as evidence in discrimination lawsuits. Employers, therefore, should not underestimate the importance of consistently conducting fair and accurate performance evaluations to effectively manage its employees and avoid liability. Best practices are to establish fair evaluation policies and practices and train supervisors on how to conduct unbiased evaluations.
Click here to learn more about discrimination claims and the Detroit Tigers (Conduct Detrimental, April 2023).