(Solution Download) 1 Do you think the reasons offered by the employer

1. Do you think the reasons offered by the employer were pretextual? Why or why not?
2. Do you think that the burden shifting from employee to employer and then back again to the employee is a good system? Why or why not?
3. What can an employer do to insulate itself from terminating individuals for reasons that can be perceived to be pretextual?

To prove age discrimination under a disparate treatment theory, Pottenger must show that his age ?actually played a role in [Potlatch?s decision-making] process and had a determinative influence on the outcome.? Pottenger has made out a prima facie case of age discrimination. He was 60 years old; his most recent performance review grade of MR- was not outstanding, but indicated that he was meeting the requirements of the job; he was discharged; and he was replaced by Craig Nelson, then 43 years old, a substantially younger employee with equal or inferior qualifications. Potlatch, in turn, has articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating Pottenger: a lack of confidence that Pottenger could make the hard decisions necessary to turn around the ailing Idaho Pulp and Paperboard Division, which he headed. It is undisputed that IPPD (Pottenger?s division) lost over $200 million during 1997, 1998, 1999, and the first quarter of 2000. Pottenger may establish pretext through evidence showing that Potlatch?s explanation is unworthy of belief or through evidence showing that discrimination more likely motivated its decision. Pottenger need not rely on only one type of evidence, and he has offered evidence both to cast doubt on Potlatch?s credibility and to show a discriminatory motive. At the summary judgment stage, Pottenger?s burden is not high. He must only show that a rational trier of fact could, on all the evidence, find that Potlatch?s explanation was pretextual and that therefore its action was taken for impermissibly discriminatory reasons. If he does so, then summary judgment for Potlatch is inappropriate.


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