Fired Employee With Bad Attitude Fails Religious Discrimination Claim | McAfee and Taft

According to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, a car salesman who was fired following customer complaints of bad attitude cannot go before a jury for his claim of religious discrimination. The Tenth Circuit, which covers Oklahoma, upheld the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the employer in the recent notice Pegler v. Doug Smith Autoplex.

bad attitude story

In Tenth Circuit’s opinion, Mr. Pegler worked as a car salesman for Doug Smith Autoplex for about a year. During his tenure, he was subject to disciplinary action (“board statements”) for offending customers, failing to meet sales targets, and displaying a poor attitude towards customers. It also received three customer complaints. The final complaint came after Mr Pegler raised his voice at a married couple taking a test drive, saying: ‘If you’re not going to rent from me, then you’re wasting my time! After the husband told Mr. Pegler to calm down, Mr. Pegler reportedly replied, “No, I’m Jewish.

After his dismissal, Mr. Pegler filed a lawsuit, alleging that his employer discriminated against him because he was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unlike to most of his colleagues. Mr. Pegler claimed that a non-Jewish colleague had had two outbursts of anger, but was not fired. He also claimed that his performance was not as bad as claimed. Finally, Mr. Pegler argued that potential car buyers who filed the final lawsuit after the test drive may have colluded with Doug Smith Autoplex to create a pretext to terminate his employment.

Tenth Circuit Rules for Employer

Neither the trial court nor the appeal court agreed with Mr Pegler’s theory, concluding that he had presented no evidence that his employer had discriminated against him because of his religion .

The Tenth Circuit noted, first, that the comparison with a non-Jewish colleague did not demonstrate discrimination because the record showed that the employee in question did not have negative customer interactions like Mr. Pegler l ‘did. The court noted that this distinction – a general bad attitude with co-workers versus a bad attitude towards customers – “is a seemingly critical distinction in the automotive industry.

Second, the court rejected Mr. Pegler’s own assessment of his attitude and performance, noting that an employee’s own assessment of his performance is not sufficient to withstand summary judgment and a jury trial. . Additionally, the court noted that the employer consistently documented Mr. Pegler’s poor attitude and negative interactions with customers.

Finally, the court did not accept Mr. Pegler’s conspiracy theory that the client and employer had agreed on the final complaint against him, noting that Mr. Pegler had no evidence to support it. of this theory and relied on “mere guesswork”.

Good practices for employers

Employers should feel relieved that not all discrimination claims make it to a jury. In this case, the employer’s practice of keeping clear documentation of performance and attitude issues allowed the dealership to succeed on summary judgment. Employers should remember that documentation of disciplinary and coaching issues may provide evidence in a subsequent prosecution. On the other hand, the essentially homogeneous workforce of the dealership in this case illustrates the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce in avoiding discrimination lawsuits.

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