Rousan v. Bankers Life and Casualty Co. (E.D. Cal. 2009): Employment Discrimination Case

A Jordanian Muslim sued his former employer, a life insurance firm, under the California Fair Housing and Employment Act, alleging discrimination based on religion and national origin. The plaintiff argued that he was terminated from his job because he was a Muslim and of Middle Eastern origin. The defendant claimed that he was fired for failing to meet job performance standards; the plaintiff responded that the company’s explanation was a pretext, arguing that the company applied different job performance evaluation standards to him as compared to his non-Muslim co-workers. Employing the burden-shifting test established by McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green (where the plaintiff alleges a prima facie claim, the company responds with a reason, and the plaintiff will prevail if he can show that the reason is a pretext for actual discrimination), the Court found that the plaintiff had presented enough evidence of a discriminatory motive to establish a prima facie case and allow the suit to proceed before a jury. Accordingly, the Court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

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