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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 26, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Dan M. Norwood, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant, Helen Stewart

Attorneys 2:

David A. Prather and Kathryn T. Parham, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee, Cadna Rubber Company

Judge(s): KIRBY

This is an employment discrimination case. The employment of the plaintiff employee was terminated in the course of a reduction in force. The plaintiff filed this lawsuit against the defendant employer alleging that she was singled out for termination in the reduction in force based on her age and/or race. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The trial court reasoned that the evidence submitted by the plaintiff was insufficient to create an issue of fact as to whether the employer singled her out for termination based on her age and/or race, and that the plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient to prove that the legitimate nondiscriminatory reason proffered by the employer for terminating the plaintiff’s employment was pretextual. The plaintiff now appeals. We reverse. The standard for summary judgment applicable in this case is the standard set out in Hannan and Gossett. Under the very high standard in those cases, the employer cannot negate an element of the plaintiff’s prima facie case merely by showing that the plaintiff did not submit sufficient evidence at the summary judgment stage; to obtain summary judgment under that standard, the employer must show that the plaintiff cannot establish this element of her claim at trial. Thus, we hold that the employer failed to meet this standard on any of the plaintiff’s claims of discrimination.