When Close isn’t Close Enough – Appeals Court Rejects ‘Me Too’ Evidence in Discrimination Case

Employees often attempt to prove discrimination by offering evidence that other, similar employees were subject to the same treatment, often referred to as “me too” evidence. The California Court of Appeal rejected an employee’s attempt to use “me too” evidence when the employee sought to introduce evidence showing how employees outside his protected class were treated. Hatai v. Department of Transp., No. B236757 (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 28, 2013). However, the Court allowed the employee to introduce evidence of discrimination against other persons of the same race as the employee.

Kenneth Hatai, who was of Japanese and Asian ancestry, claimed that his boss, Sameer Haddadeen, who was of Arab ancestry, discriminated against him based on his Asian national origin and ancestry. At trial, Hatai attempted to introduce evidence showing that Haddadeen discriminated against anyone who was not an Arab. The trial court refused to allow Hatai to introduce this evidence, and the Court of Appeals agreed and ruled that the “me too” doctrine only permitted Hatai to present evidence that Haddadeen subjected other employees of East Asian or Japanese ancestry to similar discriminatory conduct, but not employees outside of his protected class.

For details on Hatai, please see California Appeals Court Rejects ‘Me Too’ Evidence in Race and National Origin Discrimination Case.