“Me Too” Evidence Permitted in Discrimination Case

In a recent case, Rudolph v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., Civil Action No.: 3:18-cv-6071-PGS-TJB, 2023 WL 5638844 (D.N.J. August 31, 2023), the court denied defendant’s motion in limine seeking to prelude plaintiff from introducing evidence of other employees’ allegations of discrimination.

This evidence, typically referred to as “me too” evidence, can be very useful in a discrimination case.

From the decision:

Plaintiff argues that evidence of allegations of age discrimination made against Devlin by other Abbott Laboratories, Inc. employees is relevant and admissible to proving the discriminatory intent element in this case. Fed. R. Evid. 404(b)(2). Defendant seeks to preclude the evidence based on improper character evidence as irrelevant.

The Court denies Defendant’s request for an Order excluding the testimony of Earl “Andy” Bielitz and Ron Gonzales concerning complaints of age discrimination by Devlin. The testimony is temporally connected as having occurred within several months of Plaintiff’s alleged wrongful termination. The Third Circuit has permitted such evidence:

Evidence of an employer’s conduct towards other employees has long been held relevant and admissible to show that an employer’s proffered justification is pretext. See, e.g., McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. at 804 (stating that evidence that employees of another race were treated differently from the plaintiff under comparable circumstances is “[e]specially relevant” to whether employer’s proffered explanation is pretextual); Becker v. ARCO Chemical Co., 207 F.3d 176, 194 n. 8 (3d Cir.2000) (citing cases holding that, “as a general rule, evidence of a defendant’s prior discriminatory treatment of a plaintiff or other employees is relevant and admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence to establish whether a defendant’s employment action against an employee was motivated by invidious discrimination”). Thus, other acts are admissible under Rule 404(b) in the employment discrimination context for the proper purpose of establishing or negating discriminatory intent.

[Cleaned up; citations omitted.]

Accordingly, the court concluded that “[t]he testimony of Bielitz and Gonzales is admissible as to Devlin’s intent and motivation at the time of the employment dispute with Rudolph, and disputing Defendant’s proffered legitimate reason for termination as pretext” and that “other evidence such as Nitorshi Wilson and associated exhibits are admissible for the same reasons.”

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