Direct evidence requires a statement be “made by an individual with authority over the employment decision at issue.”  Lawson v. Hinds County School Dist., 2014 WL 373199 *5 (S.D. Miss. Feb. 3, 2014) (Jordan, J.) (citing Krystek v. University of Southern Mississippi, 164 F.3d 251, 256 (5th Cir. 1999)).  However, “authority” does not mean the same thing as the power to hire and fire teachers.  The declarant was merely a school principal.  The court found that: “A jury could find that [the declarant] had sufficient influence.”

 

Lawson v. Hinds County School Dist., 2014 WL 373199, at *5 (S.D. Miss. Feb. 3, 2014) (Jordan, J.).

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Photo of Robert J. Wiley Robert J. Wiley

Robert J. Wiley is the founder and owner of Rob Wiley, P.C.  Mr. Wiley is board certified as a specialist in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Mr. Wiley graduated with honors from Tulane Law School and received…

Robert J. Wiley is the founder and owner of Rob Wiley, P.C.  Mr. Wiley is board certified as a specialist in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Mr. Wiley graduated with honors from Tulane Law School and received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University.

1. If you were not practicing labor and employment law what would you be?

I cannot imagine doing anything other than the job I have now.  Maybe I would be a union leader or work for a nonprofit.

2. What skills do you most value as an employment attorney?

Being an employment lawyer, you have to have two specialized sets of skills.  On one hand, you have to be able to draft motions in court that are extremely complicated and technical.  On the other hand, you have to turn around and be able to explain these complicated and technical legalities to individuals who are not lawyers.

3. When did you decide to become a lawyer?

I think that I have always wanted to be a lawyer.  My parents would tell you that I seemed predestined to be a lawyer.

4. What is the biggest mistake you see clients make?

Not hiring a lawyer!  Whether you’re complaining to the EEOC, going to court, attending a hearing with the Texas Workforce Commission unemployment division, or anything else legal, you really need to hire a lawyer.  Even if you do not hire my law firm, you need to get a lawyer to represent you.

5. What is your favorite employment law?

My favorite employment law is Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This law, passed over fifty years ago, remains one of our most important laws today. The Civil Rights Act set the stage for the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and numerous other employment laws protecting individuals from discrimination.  The Civil Rights Act was also an act of bipartisanship.  I think that our current government could learn a lot from the determination of our government’s leaders in the 1960’s.

6. What one employment issue would you argue before the Supreme Court?

I would argue that arbitration agreements are unconstitutional because they deprive citizens of the right to a jury.  I believe that the right to a jury, enshrined in the Seventh Amendment, is just as important as freedom of speech, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, or the right to bear arms.

7. Who is your favorite Supreme Court justice?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I hope she never resigns and she lives forever.

8. What would you say to HR of a company about how to treat employees?

Treat employees who bring heartfelt complaints with dignity.  Try to find truth, rather than inevitably siding with management over subordinate employees. Human Resources has the ability to defuse a potential lawsuit by doing the right thing.  Retaliating against the employee because they complain about discrimination or ill treatment will only make matters worse.

9. Besides Rob Wiley, P.C., what is the most interesting job that you have had?

While I was an undergraduate in Nashville, I briefly worked as a tour guide.

10. What is the secret to your success?

The attorneys who work for me.