November 29, 2021

Volume XI, Number 333

Advertisement
Advertisement

California Affirmative Action Plan: The “Dog Ate My Affirmative Action Plan” and Other Bad Excuses for Not Getting the Job Done

In a welcome common sense decision, the California Court of Appeal in Serri v. Santa Clara University affirmed summary judgment granted to Santa Clara University against its former Director of Affirmative Action.

affirmative actionWhy? Because as the University’s Director of Affirmative Action, she failed to file the University’s Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) for three years in a row!

Indeed, the undisputed record showed that Serri not only failed to file the University’s AAP for three successive years, but also failed to inform her supervisors that she had not filed them and made other misrepresentations about the AAPs.

Since the University had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for discharging Serri, the case turned in large part on her ability to show that the University’s reasons for firing her were a pretext for discrimination. Struggling to establish pretext, Serri did not literally argue that her “dog ate her AAP,” but she came close by asserting a series of weak excuses such as:

  1. the AAPs weren’t really that important;

  2. failure to file the AAPs would not likely result in actual sanctions against the University;

  3. the University failed to provide her with data and a consultant to process the data necessary for an AAP (ignoring the fact that she was responsible for overseeing this process); and

  4. when she once had actually prepared an AAP over a decade earlier, she “sensed” the University  President was “reluctant” to sign the AAP, and he “never asked her” about the AAPs.

The Court exposed and rejected these arguments in a decision that affirms accountability still plays an important role in the workplace.

Click here if you would like to read the entire opinion.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 156
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Mitchell F. Boomer, Jackson Lewis, employment discrimination attorney, whistleblower retaliation lawyer
Principal

Mitchell F. Boomer is a Principal in the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Since joining the firm in 1992, he has represented employers in all areas of employment litigation, including wrongful termination, employment discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secret and unfair competition cases in federal and state courts in California, Washington and Nevada.

Mr. Boomer regularly advises clients on employee discipline, layoffs, reductions in force, human resource policies, leave management and...

(415) 394-9400
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement