7th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of "Scattershot" of Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

On January 27, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the plaintiff's employment discrimination and retaliation claims. Awok Ani-Deng v. Jeffboat, LLC, No. 14-2155 (7th Cir., 1-27-2015). The plaintiff, a female Sudanese shipyard welder, alleged that her employer demoted her and laid her off in retaliation for her complaints of sex and national origin discrimination that she had filed with the EEOC. After her layoff, the company send the plaintiff a work recall notice, to which she failed to timely respond. The 7th Circuit found that the employer demoted the plaintiff for safety reasons, laid her off as part of a general seniority-based reduction-in-force, and would have recalled her had she timely responded to the notice.

The plaintiff's case hinged on a single affidavit from a Human Resources Representative, which made generalized statements that may have cast a doubt about the employer's true motivations. However, the 7th Circuit found that the affidavit lacked the proper evidentiary foundation because it was not specific enough or based on personal knowledge. Without evidence of discrimination or retaliation, the plaintiff's case could not advance to trial.