02-10844-cv0 Palasota

02-10844-cv0 Palasota - 1 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS...

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Unformatted text preview: 1 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT 02-10844 JIMMY PALASOTA, Plaintiff-Appellant, VERSUS HAGGAR CLOTHING CO., Defendant-Appellee, Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Before DAVIS, SMITH, and DUH, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: The sole issue before us in this age discrimination in employment case is whether the district court erred in granting Judgment as a Matter of Law to Defendant, Haggar Clothing Co. (Haggar) after the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Jimmy Palasota (Palasota). Our review of the record convinces us that the district court did err. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the district court, reinstate the jury verdict in favor of Palasota and remand for further proceedings. United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit F I L E D September 3, 2003 Charles R. Fulbruge III Clerk FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY Palasota was employed as a Sales Associate by Haggar for twenty-eight years. When terminated on May 10, 1996, he was fifty-one years old. For most of his career, Palasota oversaw one of Haggars key accounts, Dillards Department Stores. 1 Palasota also serviced eight J.C. Penneys key accounts and various trade accounts. He was considered an outstanding employee who had great relationships with customers and was second to none in his sales professionalism. R. 29:37, 43. In the 1990s, Haggars management sought to portray a younger image for the company. R. 30:147. Haggar created the Retail Marketing Associate (RMA) program, and transferred many of the sales functions previously performed by Sales Associates to the RMA employees. 2 Indeed, ninety-five percent of the RMAs were females in their late twenties and early thirties, whereas ninety-five percent of the Sales Associates were males between forty-five and fifty-five years of age. R. 29:57. From 1993 to 1996, Haggar hired between 32 and 51 sales people, all of them RMAs and all, but four, of whom were under forty years of age. R. 29:73-74. During this same period, 1 1 A key account is a high volume sales account that Haggar assigns only to its best Sales Associates. Unlike a high- volume key account, a trade account territory is made up of numerous lower-volume stores. 2 2 The former head of the J.C. Penney account for Haggar testified that there was no difference between the Sales Associates and the RMAs; individuals in both positions were being asked to sell clothing for the Haggar Clothing Company, and the transfer of the sales function was a continuing plan to move the Sales Associates responsibilities to the RMAs, who were all much younger, primarily female gender. R. 29:45; 32:471-72; 32:510. Roxanne Jilek, a former RMA, stated that RMAs assumed the sales duties of the Sales Associates, resulting in an elimination of the latters position. R. 30:206-07. Haggar terminated 17 Sales Associates, all of whom were males over forty years of age. over forty years of age....
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02-10844-cv0 Palasota - 1 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS...

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