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August 2017

Denver Team Obtains Summary Judgment on a Plaintiff’s Claims of Discrimination in Violation of Title VII and the ADA

Denver partner John Keen and associate Anna Reinert recently obtained a Summary Judgment on a plaintiff’s claims of discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”), and retaliation in violation of Title VII.  The claims were filed against Gordon & Rees’s client, a mechanical contractor performing mechanical construction, mechanical design, and sheet metal work for the construction of a heavily litigated property in Denver, Colorado. 

The plaintiff, an HIV positive former employee, claimed that he disclosed his health condition to his supervisor and was subsequently subjected to HIV-related derogatory comments by co-workers on the jobsite.  The plaintiff further claimed that his co-workers and immediate supervisor, were harassing him at his home, late at night.  The plaintiff claimed that he reported these issues to the client’s safety supervisor and was subsequently terminated following a meeting on July 24, 2014.  The client terminated the plaintiff due to concerns regarding his mental instability after he sent a series of strange text messages to his immediate supervisor.

The plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, claiming that his former employer discriminated against him based upon his HIV status and/or his perceived mental instability and in retaliation for reporting the discrimination he was facing.

Following extensive discovery, Gordon & Rees’s attorneys filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s conduct, represented a safety concern and provided the client with a legitimate business reason to terminate the plaintiff’s employment. The Honorable Wiley Y. Daniel, Senior United States District Judge agreed, noting that it is not the Court’s role to second guess whether an employer’s decision was wise, fair or correct.  Rather, the Court only determines whether the employer honestly believed the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons it offered for the termination and that it acted in good faith on those beliefs. In this case, the Court found significant evidence in the record regarding the plaintiff’s erratic and/or threatening behavior. The Court further noted that the plaintiff’s argument of pretext was supported only by mere conjecture. 

John D. Keen
Anna M. Reinert



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