Schechner v. KPIX-TV

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Employment Law
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2012
  • Case #: 11-15294
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge B. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges Noonan and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

A plaintiff’s statistical evidence of age discrimination need not factor in legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for termination to meet the minimal burden of proof at step one of the McDonnell Douglas framework.

William Schechner and John Lobertini (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) were news reporters at KPIX-TV (“KPIX”), a San Francisco affiliate of CBS Broadcasting, Inc. (“CBS”). They were laid off after CBS issued a ten-percent budget cut direction. Schechner was sixty-six and Lobertini was forty-seven when they lost their jobs. They brought suit in federal district court alleging age discrimination. The district court granted KPIX’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiffs’ statistical evidence failed to account preemptively for KPIX’s legitimate non-discriminatory reason for discharge; thus, the statistical analysis did not demonstrate a “stark pattern of discrimination.” On appeal, the Ninth Circuit concluded that statistical evidence need not account for the employer’s non-discriminatory reason for the discharge. The evidence was sufficient to carry Plaintiffs’ minimal burden at step one of the McDonnell Douglas analysis. However, since KPIX was entitled to the favorable “same-actor inference” and had legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for the layoff, Plaintiffs did not provide sufficient evidence of pretext to survive KPIX’s motion for summary judgment. AFFIRMED.

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