Case Analysis: Wittenburg V. Amex

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Bonnie Wittenburg, Plaintiff, v. American Express Financial Advisors, Inc., Defendant.

Civ. No. 04-922 (JNE/SRN)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA

FACTS OF THE CASE:
In the case of Wittenburg v. American Express Financial Advisors, Inc. (AEFA), Bonnie Wittenburg was an employee for AEFA in their Minneapolis office. The plaintiff was hired by the company in November of 1998 at the age of forty-six to serve as an Equity Research Analyst in AEFA's Equity Investment Department. During a reduction in force by the defendant in 2003, the plaintiff was terminated. In January of 2004, the plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received her Notice of Right to Sue on January 30, 2004. The plaintiff filed suit on February 13, 2004 alleging that she was discriminated and retaliated against by the defendant as a result of her age and gender. AEFA moved for a summary judgment.

LAWS BEING APPLIED:
The plaintiff is arguing claims of:
Age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act •Gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act •Gender and age discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act

ISSUES FACING THE COURT:
Was the plaintiff discriminated against on the basis of her age? •Was the plaintiff discriminated against on the basis of her gender? •Was the plaintiff retaliated against as a result of pursuing legal action?

RESOLUTION:
The court granted AEFA’s motion for a summary judgment for several reasons. On the allegations related to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the parties agreed that McDonnell Douglas analysis applies (McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green). Applying McDonnell Douglas means that the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of discrimination. At that point, the defendant must produce a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its actions. In...
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