Demand Letter ??

I am an African-American female who worked at a large communications company as temp for 8 months. Recently I was terminated by the supervisor there for reasons which I felt were discriminatory. I was a hard worker, had the best attendance record out of anyone in my group and worked a second job at night to financially support myself. I never received a performance review while employed there and my supervisor never indicated he had a problem with my performance.

However, this supervisor called my temp agency in March and told them he was letting me go because he felt I was 'no longer motivated to work' and he felt I 'didn't want to be there.' Myself and the manager at my temp agency were shocked.

Meanwhile I found out through a former co-worker that this supervisor started training another temp to do my job after he got rid of me. This temp had been working there for only 4 months and was constantly making personal phone calls for sometimes up to 2 hours! She was allowed to take several days off while I never had a vacation during my 8 months. Needless to say she is Caucasian. I don't understand how she was motivated to work and I was not.

Not only that, this supervisor called a meeting to discuss me and terminating me with everyone I worked with in my group while I was still on the floor sitting at my computer! He did the same thing to another African-American temp and bad mouthed her to other employees. I filed a complaint with the EECO and they sent me a right to sue letter. I can't afford to sue so I was wondering if a demand letter to this employer would work if sent by an attorney? That seems to be the best solution one attorney offered me so far.

I can no longer get job through the temp agency because that supervisor lied about me. I got evicted from my apartment and have gone past due on all my bills because of this.

I think what that man did was slander and I think they should pay me lost wages for suffering due to defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional stress. What do you think? I need your advice. Thanks.

1 answer  |  asked Apr 23, 2004 3:37 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Demand letter won't do much

The facts you describe make out what is called a "prima facie" case of race discrimination. You, being black, are performing the job satisfactorily. You are terminated and replaced by a white person. Your task is to prove that the decision was motivated by racial considerations. Without any direct evidence of racial animus (such as your boss berating blacks, making racial slurs or comments that suggest a racial bias), your only hope of getting anywhere is to prove that the reason given for your termination is a pretext. The comments your boss made sound like a subjective judgment of your attitude, something that cannot be proven true or false. It is not enough to prove that you were motivated to work. You have to prove that your boss really did not believe that you had lost your enthusiasm for the job. Unless he admits that it was a lie, there is no way to prove what was going on in his head. The fact that he treats your replacement better and that she had a poorer work record does not prove that racial bias was what governed his actions. He may eventually develop the same impression of her attitude and fire her. While you were working two jobs, you may have shown signs of fatigue that he interpreted as a loss of enthusiasm. Your mother might consider it admirable to see you working two jobs, but your boss might feel that your loyalty was divided, since he got no benefit from it.
A demand letter from a lawyer will probably get nothing but a curt reply from the company's lawyer. Unless you are prepared to pursue a lawsuit, the letter will have no credibility.
Telling the agency how he felt about your attitude is not defamatory. His opinion that you had lost your enthusiasm is no more a lie than your feeling that he was biased against you because of your race. If you accused him of being racist and he said "that's a lie!" you would probably answer by saying that it is just your opinion, gut feeling or impression, not a statement of fact. And you would be right.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Apr 23, 2004 8:51 PM [EST]

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