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satisfactorily performing her job at the time she was fired because she was admittedly
participating in an unlawful work stoppage. The district court agreed. This argument,
however, fails to take into account the facts of this case and the flexibility of the
McDonnell-Douglas analysis. Flores admits that she broke the rules but claims that PTG 143 disciplined her more harshly than [**8] non-Hispanic rule-breakers. It makes little sense
in this context to discuss whether she was meeting her employer's reasonable
expectations. None of the employees who joined the coffee room fracas were meeting
PTG's reasonable expectations. PTG could have fired any or all of them. The issue in this
case is whether Flores was singled out for discipline because she is Hispanic. Therefore,
under the facts of this case, Flores does not have to show that she was meeting her
employer's legitimate expectations in order to establish a prima facie case of
discriminatory discharge. Because PTG does not dispute that Flores is a member of a
protected class, that she was discharged, and that they replaced her, Flores has
successfully established a prima facie case of discrimination.
But Flores is not out of the summary judgment woods yet. The next issue is whether PTG
has come up with a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for firing her and not firing nonHispanic employees who took part in the coffee room ruction. PTG's burden of proof in
this analysis is "quite light," and "the mere articulation of the reason . . . puts the onus
back on the plaintiff to prove pretext." Pilditch v. [**9] Board of Educ., 3 F.3d 1113,
1117 (7th Cir. 1993). The reason PTG says it fired Flores is simple: Jones and Adams
believed that Flores was the instigator of the coffee room mutiny in violation of the union
contract and company policy. Insubordination is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason
for firing an employee. See Plair v. E.J. Brach & Sons, 105 F.3d 343, 345 (7th Cir. 1997).
Flores was clearly insubordinate when she disobeyed management's direct order not to
take unauthorized break...
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- Spring '08