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Palasota v. Haggar Clothing Co.

342 F.3d 569 (2003)

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Palasota v. Haggar Clothing Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

342 F.3d 569 (2003)

Facts

Fifty-one-year-old Jimmy Palasota (plaintiff) was an outstanding sales associate (SA) at Haggar Clothing Company (Haggar) (defendant) for 28 years. After Haggar lost Palasota’s biggest account, Vice President Tim Lyons gave Palasota a choice between less lucrative accounts or a severance package. Palasota rejected the severance package. That day, Lyons wrote a memo strongly recommending that human resources help “thin the ranks” by developing a severance package for a group of 14 SAs that had Palasota’s tenure and were at least 50 years old. Lyons later terminated Palasota, writing that Palasota’s position was eliminated due to a “reconfiguration of the sales force.” From 1996 to 1998, Haggar terminated Palasota and 11 other SAs over age 40 and hired 12 Retail Marketing Associates (RMAs) under age 40. Overall, 95 percent of SAs were men aged 45 to 55, and 95 percent of RMAs were women aged 25 to 35. Additionally, Haggar’s president Frank Bracken said he wanted “racehorses” and not “plow horses” and claimed Palasota’s sales method was old-school, and national sales manager Alan Burks repeatedly discussed Haggar’s graying sales force at meetings. Palasota sued Haggar, raising age-discrimination and sex-discrimination claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Title VII, respectively. The jury found that Haggar violated the ADEA and awarded Palasota over $800,000 in backpay but rejected Palasota’s sex-based Title VII claim. The district court then granted Haggar’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, overturning the age-discrimination verdict. Palasota appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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