Utah Employment Law Letter - November 2013: SEX DISCRIMINATION: Employer vs. employee perception in gender discrimination claims

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Philosophers argue endlessly about “Truth” with a capital “T,” but most people will likely never comprehend that kind of “truth.” Rather, we all view and interpret the world and our experiences through a complex set of lenses that we spend a lifetime creating, both consciously and subconsciously. As Oscar Wilde summed up, “The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” When it comes to discrimination claims, the law tries to account for differences in perception. Read on to see how employers can find a measure of protection in their honestly held perceptions.

‘But I think I’m an excellent employee!’

Stephanie Salazar worked as the director of economic development for Commerce City, Colorado, from August 29, 2005, until her termination on July 16, 2008. Her direct supervisor, Tom Acre, outlined the reasons for her termination in a letter. According to Acre, the city fired Salazar for (1) unprofessional behavior, (2) a demonstrated inability to work on a team, (3) her failure to communicate effectively with her department, (4) a lack of good judgment in sharing information with city manager Gerald Flannery, (5) her submission of repetitive, meritless, and unsubstantiated complaints, and (6) her refusal to participate in the investigations of her complaints.

Originally published in the Utah Employment Law Letter - November 2013.

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