Fifth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Win for Employees

In a victory for employees, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court judge’s grant of summary judgment in favor of DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company (DynMcDermott). The case was brought by the EEOC against DynMcDermott under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. A quick rundown of the facts of the case (which you can read in more detail here) are that Phillip Michael Swafford, who had previously been laid off from a job position at DynMcDermott, was recommended for an open job position at DynMcDermott by his former supervisor and the manager in charge of hiring for the position. However, the site director did not want Swafford for the job and repeatedly asserted “that Swafford was too old and his wife had cancer.” The site director also stated that he thought someone younger who did not have a disabled spouse should fill the position. Then, after the site director threatened the hiring manager with insubordination regarding Swafford’s prospective hiring, a 35 year-old with no experience at DynMcDermott was hired.

While the district court found that no genuine issue of material fact existed, the Fifth Circuit disagreed. Here, the Fifth Circuit got it right finding that “a reasonably jury could return a verdict for the EEOC finding that but for Swafford’s age and disabled wife, DM would have hired him.” Based on the facts laid out in the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, the district court’s decision otherwise is baffling.

Read the EEOC’s Press Release here.