An employer’s negative statements about an employee’s accent may be deemed to be direct evidence of discrimination, requiring the employer to demonstrate that it would have taken the adverse action even absent the discriminatory motive.

In In re Rodriguez, No. 06-1988, –F.3d–, 2007 WL 1827284 (6th Cir. June 27, 2007), the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment award in favor of employer FedEx Freight East, Inc., which allegedly denied an employee a promotion due to the employee’s accent and speech characteristics. The appellate court concluded that the employee had provided direct evidence in support of his national origin discrimination claim.

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