Justice Paul Wooten
Barnwell sued his former employer, Emigrant Bank, arguing he was terminated due to age bias. He claimed Emigrant began a policy of “getting rid of older employees” in 2005, identifying nearly 20 ex-Emigrant workers over 50 who left the bank in the two years before his dismissal. Barnwell alleged the reasons asserted for his termination were a pretext, and the real reason was age discrimination as he was 56 when terminated. Emigrant argued there was no evidence to raise an inference of discrimination, contending Barnwell’s misconduct constituted a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for his dismissal. The court agreed, finding Emigrant presented legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating Barnwell, including his mishandling of an employee’s return to work after an unexplained absence and Barnwell’s violation of the bank’s branch opening policy. It found while Barnwell “strongly disagrees with the rationale” behind the decision to dismiss him, that, standing alone, was insufficient to raise an inference of pretext or discrimination, concluding he failed to rebut Emigrant’s showing that his dismissal was legitimate. Thus, Emigrant was granted summary judgment dismissing the complaint.