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Petitioner Reeves, 57, and Joe Oswalt, in his mid-30′s, were the supervisors in one of respondent’s departments known as the “Hinge Room,” which wasmanaged by Russell Caldwell, 45. Reeves’ responsibilities included recording the attendance and hours worked by employees under his supervision. In1995, Caldwell informed Powe Chesnut, the company’s director of manufacturing, that Hinge Room production was down because employees were oftenabsent, coming in late, and leaving early. Because the monthly attendance reports did not indicate a problem, Chesnut ordered an audit, which, according tohis testimony, revealed numerous timekeeping errors and misrepresentations by Caldwell, Reeves, and Oswalt. Chesnut and other company officialsrecommended to the company president, Sandra Sanderson, that Reeves and Caldwell be fired, and she complied. Reeves filed this suit, contending that hehad been terminated because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). At trial, respondent contended Reeveshad been fired due to his failure to maintain accurate attendance records. Reeves attempted to demonstrate that this explanation was pretext for agediscrimination, introducing evidence that he had accurately recorded the attendance and hours of the employees he supervised, and that Chesnut, whomOswalt described as wielding “absolute power” within the company, had demonstrated age-based animus in his dealings with him. The District Court deniedrespondent’s motions for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50, and the case went to the jury, which returned a verdict forReeves. The Fifth Circuit reversed. Although recognizing that Reeves may well have offered sufficient evidence for the jury to have found that respondent’sexplanation was pretextual, the court explained that this did not mean that Reeves had presented sufficient evidence to show that he had been fired becauseof his age. In finding the evidence insufficient, the court weighed the additional evidence of discrimination introduced by Reeves against other circumstancessurrounding his discharge, including that Chesnut’s age-based comments were not made in the direct context of Reeves’ termination; there was no allegationthat the other individuals who recommended his firing were motivated by age; two of those officials were over 50; all three Hinge Room supervisors wereaccused of inaccurate recordkeeping; and several of respondent’s managers were over 50 when Reeves was fired.


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