Under state and federal discrimination laws, employees cannot have adverse employment actions taken against them or be harassed due to certain protected classes such as race, disability, and age. However, merely because you fall within one of those protected classes it does not give you the ability to act unprofessionally and insubordinate. That reality was discussed in the March 26, 2018 New Hampshire federal court decision of Tasheena Stewart v. Dartmouth Hitchcock Memorial Hospital. In that case, Ms. Stewart brought a claim against Dartmouth Hitchcock claiming she was subjected to unlawful workplace sexual and racial discrimination. Dartmouth Hitchcock was successful in requesting summary judgment on Stewart’s discrimination claims. Stewart did not have an attorney and therefor represented herself. The Court gave a great deal of consideration in analyzing her claims before dismissing her case. It rendered a 27-page decision after analyzing Ms. Stewart’s factual allegations as they matched up to the law and found that there was no genuine issue of material fact so that Dartmouth Hitchcock was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Stewart did not like her immediate supervisor. She claimed that her supervisor made her uncomfortable and at one point during her employment she referred to her supervisor as psychotic and a liar. Stewart failed to identify in her case any evidence suggesting that the true reason for her firing was not because she was aggressive, unprofessional, and insubordinate but really unlawful discrimination; whether racial or gender based.
It appears from the court decision that Stewart’s skills as a lab scientist never seemed to be in question. Her insubordinate behavior and comments resulted in her being fired.
J. Daniel Marr is a Director and Shareholder at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. His legal practice includes counseling businesses and individuals on a variety of legal issues and advocating on their behalf. Attorney Marr is licensed and practices in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Attorney Marr can be reached at [email protected].