Cases & Deals

Envoy wins dismissal of former employee's discrimination claims on summary judgment

Client(s) American Airlines Group

In U.S district court proceedings, Jones Day obtained complete dismissal of a former employee's retaliation and discrimination claims against Envoy Air Inc. The employee had claimed that he was dismissed from employment in retaliation for taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act; because he had a disability, in violation of the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act; and because of his race (Hispanic), in violation of Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The district court rejected each of the employee's theories and dismissed his claims in full. The court found that the employee had failed to meet his burden to prove a prima facie case of discrimination with respect to his FMLA and disability discrimination claims. And, while he could "satisfy the minimal burden required at the prima facie stage" with respect to his race discrimination claims, the employee was "unable to rebut Envoy's legitimate and nondiscriminatory rationale for terminating his employment." In particular, the court rejected the employee's arguments that stray comments that the employee's supervisor had made and broad allegations of disparate treatment were sufficient to show pretext. Instead, the court noted that Envoy had clearly articulated a reason for terminating the employee, that this reasoning remained consistent from the time an initial dismissal recommendation was made through the employee's appeal to high-level managers, and that the employee was dismissed pursuant to decision-makers' "honest and reasonably-informed belief" that he had violated Envoy policy.

Armando Nieves v Envoy Air, Case 1:16-cv-01346 (W.D. Mich.)