February 26, 2008: The United States Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn, 128 S. Ct. 1140 (2008) (FindLaw site opinion). The issue in this federal age discrimination case (ADEA) was whether the plaintiff could present evidence to the jury about other alleged older discrimination victims, where the decision made to terminate the other individuals was not made by the same decision-maker that terminated the plaintiff.
The employer (Sprint) contended that evidence of other alleged age discrimination victims was not admissible where the decision-makers for those other victims were different from the decision-makers who took action against the plaintiff.
The Supreme Court rejected the employer’s argument and said that the evidence of other victims might be admissible, even if different decision-makers were involved. The trial court should conduct a “balancing test” for admissibility of discrimination against other employees by different supervisors, where the relevance of the other employees’ situation is balanced against unfair prejudice to the employer.
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