Mckennon vs. Nashville Banner Publishing Company

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McKennon v. Nashville Banner Publishing Company


Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Sixth Circuit

Case Analysis

Jorge A Montero

Carlos Arbizu University


This case analysis will covers the impact of the McKennon V. Nashville Banner Publishing Co Supreme Court Of The United States Decision in any legal dispute regulated by Age Discrimination In Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and others regulation that covers the elimination of discrimination in the workplace, the contribution to payback calculation procedure in this type of legal suit, as well as impact in the workplace environment. The Court held in McKennon established that the employer is liable for its discriminatory actions even where it subsequently discovers evidence that would have led to the adverse action on lawful and legitimate grounds.

Statement of the problem:

Christine McKennon had been employed by the Nashville Banner Publishing Company (Banner) for nearly 30 years when she was terminated at the age of 62. According to the Banner, she was discharged as part of a work force reduction plan that was implemented to reduce costs. McKennon filed an ADEA action that alleged that her termination was due to her age. During a

deposition, McKennon testified that during her employment she had copied and removed from the Banner's headquarters several confidential financial documents out of concern for her job

security and for her "insurance" and "protection." . Thereafter, the Banner sent McKennon a letter informing her that the removal and copying of the records was in violation of her job responsibilities and "advising her (again) that she was terminated. The Banner also notified McKennon that had it known of this earlier misconduct it would have discharged her immediately.

For purposes of summary judgment, the Nashville Banner Publishing Co conceded its discrimination against McKennon, but argued that no relief was warranted because of McKennon's misconduct. The District Court agreed and granted the Banner's motion for summary judgment, holding that the earlier misconduct was grounds for her termination and that neither back pay nor any other remedy was available to McKennon under the ADEA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling under the same rationale. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve conflicting views among the Courts of Appeal and cases cited therein.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that "after-acquired" evidence does not defeat an employer's liability for violating the ADEA. The Court found that even if the employee's later discovered misconduct could be considered grounds for termination, the ADEA violation that actually prompted the dismissal cannot be ignored. The employee's wrongdoing does not bar relief "'where a private suit serves important public purposes. The remedial provisions of the Act were designed to compensate an employee for injuries caused by the illegal discrimination and to deter employers from engaging in such discrimination. Litigants who seek redress for injuries vindicate both the deterrence and compensation objectives of the ADEA and the important congressional policy against discriminatory employment practices. Ignoring an employer's illegal conduct because of after-acquired

evidence, the Court said, would not be in accord with the deterrent, remedial scheme of the ADEA. (Parcial citation. EEOC NOTICE, Number 915.002, Date 12-14-95)

Findings of facts:

The Court concluded that the proper boundaries of remedial relief must be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If an employer seeks to rely defense upon after-acquired evidence of an employee's wrongdoing, it "must first establish that the wrongdoing was of such severity that the employee in fact would have been terminated on those grounds alone if the employer had known of it at the time of the...
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