A hotel employee of Egyptian descent complained to his supervisor that a co-worker had referred to him as a “Terrorist Muslim Taliban.” Roughly three weeks later the employee was terminated for failing to disclose certain aspects of his prior employment history. The employee did not dispute the omission, but argued that the real reason for his termination was the complaint he had filed with his supervisor. In upholding summary judgment in favor of the hotel, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that suspicious timing alone is insufficient to support a claim of retaliation. The court acknowledged that the short period of time between the employee’s complaint and his termination may have raised an inference of retaliation. However, the employee’s inability to establish that the reason offered by the hotel for his termination was untrue doomed his claim. Ultimately, plaintiffs in discrimination claims must establish that the employer’s proffered reason for the employment decision at issue was untrue. The inability to do so defeats such a claim. This case serves as a reminder that employers must strive to ensure that employment decisions are based on objectively reasonable and verifiable bases, as these will serve as the bedrock of the employer’s defense to any claim of discrimination.Terrorist Muslim Taliban
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