DETROIT, Aug. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- An age and race discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee against Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) has been scheduled for trial by jury in the U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit was filed by Mt. Clemens resident Linda Hairston.
The 63-year old Mrs. Hairston worked for Henry Ford Macomb Hospital for 41 years, from 1968 until October 2009. Hairston maintains she mistakenly took another employee's cell phone, believing it was her own. The next day, Hairston returned the phone to the place she found it. Henry Ford human resources fired Hairston for theft that same day.
In sending Hairston's case to a jury, Senior U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman wrote that Henry Ford's explanation is "unworthy of credence because the punishment – termination of employment – is grossly disproportionate to the offense. That a long-term employee with an excellent work record would be discharged over such a trivial and apparently honest mistake, which she herself promptly corrected, is troubling to say the least..."
"The reasonableness of defendant's decision is further cast into doubt by the fact that another surgical tech, who is white and in her 20s, was merely suspended for one day as punishment for falsifying her time records on four occasions…," Judge Friedman also wrote.
Joe Golden, an attorney with Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Rivers and Golden, is representing Mrs. Hairston. He said that the hospital's immediate termination of his client for mistakenly leaving the building with another employee's phone doesn't pass the "straight face" test.
"Firing Mrs. Hairston, who had been a conscientious employee of the hospital for over 40 years, was foolish, trivial and baseless," Golden said. "Under the circumstances, it's hard to believe that the defendant's motivations were entirely pure and free from bias or prejudice."
Golden also said that Mrs. Hairston, who is the mother of five children including an adopted 13-year old, hasn't been able to find suitable employment since her dismissal almost three years ago.
The case will go to trial on September 18 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.
Based in Royal Oak, Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Rivers & Golden is one of the largest firms in Michigan specializing in civil rights and employment law. It represents clients in matters relating to sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, whistleblowing and discrimination based on age, gender, disability, religion, race and national origin. Founded in 1992, the firm's attorneys are widely acknowledged as leading civil and employment rights advocates.
SOURCE Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Rivers & Golden