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Home / Complaints / Final Orders / Final Orders 2011 / FCHR Order No. 11-083

FCHR Order No. 11-083

Date of Release: 11/03/2011

STATE OF FLORIDA

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

LUIS G. ARIAS

EEOC Case No. 15D201100087

Petitioner

FCHR Case No. 2010-02467

 

DOAH Case No. 11-2767

v.

 

MCGOWAN’S HEATING AND AIR

CONDITIONING

FCHR Order No. 11-083

Respondent

 

FINAL ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR

RELIEF FROM AN UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE

Preliminary Matters

Petitioner Luis G. Arias filed a complaint of discrimination pursuant to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, Sections 760.01 - 760.11, Florida Statutes (2010), alleging that Respondent McGowan’s Heating and Air Conditioning committed an unlawful employment practice on the basis of Petitioner’s age (DOB: 1-3-51) by providing a newly-hired younger salesman more sales leads than Petitioner, creating a situation in which Petitioner was “pushed out” of the company.

The allegations set forth in the complaint were investigated, and, on April 25, 2011, the Executive Director issued his determination finding that there was no reasonable cause to believe that an unlawful employment practice had occurred.

Petitioner filed a Petition for Relief from an Unlawful Employment Practice, and the case was transmitted to the Division of Administrative Hearings for the conduct of a formal proceeding.

An evidentiary hearing was held in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 11, 2011, before Administrative Law Judge Robert S. Cohen.

Judge Cohen issued a Recommended Order of dismissal, dated August 11, 2011.

The Commission panel designated below considered the record of this matter and determined the action to be taken on the Recommended Order.

Findings of Fact

We find the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact to be supported by competent substantial evidence.

We adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact.

FCHR Order No. 11-083

Page 2

Conclusions of Law

We find the Administrative Law Judge’s application of the law to the facts to result in a correct disposition of the matter.

The Administrative Law Judge concluded that to establish a prima facie case of discrimination Petitioner must show “(1) that he is a member of a protected class; (2) that he suffered an adverse employment action; (3) that he received disparate treatment from other similarly-situated individuals in a non-protected class; and (4) that there is sufficient evidence of bias to infer a causal connection between his age or sex and the disparate treatment.” Recommended Order, ¶ 15.

With regard to the last element of the test cited by the Administrative Law Judge, a showing of a “causal connection” between the protected class and the alleged discriminatory act, the Commission has indicated that this element is actually what a Petitioner is attempting to show by establishing a prima facie case of discrimination, and that this element should not, itself, be an element of the test for a prima facie case. See, Baxla v. Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Fleetwood Homes of Florida, Inc., 20 F.A.L.R. 2583, at 2585 (FCHR 1998), citing Pugh v. Walt Disney World, 18 F.A.L.R. 1971, at 1972 (FCHR 1995), and Martinez v. Orange County Fleet Manager, 21 F.A.L.R. 163, at 164 (FCHR 1997). See, also, Curry v. United Parcel Service of America, 24 F.A.L.R. 3166, at 3167 (FCHR 2000). Accord, Kelley v. Waterwise, FCHR Order No. 06-083 (September 18, 2006), Lawhorn v. Department of Corrections, FCHR Order No. 07-046 (August 24, 2007), Plegue v. Save A Lot / Jerry’s Enterprises, FCHR Order No. 08-033 (May 27, 2008), Zemba v. Phantom Fireworks, FCHR Order No. 09-012 (January 27, 2009), Monteiro v. Atria Windsor Woods, FCHR Order No. 09-047 (June 3, 2009), Wolfe v. Frito-Lay, FCHR Order No. 10-074 (September 21, 2010), and Brown v. NuVox, FCHR Order No. 11-024 (March 2, 2011). But, cf., Royster v. Pate Stevedore Co., Inc., FCHR Order No. 08-031 (May 6, 2008), citing St. John’s School District v. O’Brien, 973 So. 2d 535 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007) regarding cases involving allegations of handicap / disability discrimination.

This conclusion of law is corrected accordingly.

In modifying this conclusion of law of the Administrative Law Judge, we conclude: (1) that the conclusion of law being modified is a conclusion of law

over which the Commission has substantive jurisdiction, namely a conclusion of law stating what must be demonstrated to establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992; (2) that the reason the modification is being made by the Commission is that the conclusion of law as stated runs contrary to previous Commission decisions on the issue; and (3) that in making this modification the conclusion of law being substituted is as or more reasonable than the conclusion of law which has been rejected. See, Section 120.57(1)(l), Florida Statutes (2010).

FCHR Order No. 11-083

Page 3

We note that this correction does not change the Administrative Law Judge’s finding that Petitioner did not establish a prima facie case of discrimination given the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusion that Petitioner failed to make a showing that he received dissimilar treatment from individuals in a non-protected class. Recommended Order, ¶ 16.

With this correction, we adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusions of law.

Exceptions

Neither party filed exceptions to the Administrative Law Judge’s Recommended Order.

Dismissal

The Petition for Relief and Complaint of Discrimination are DISMISSED with prejudice.

The parties have the right to seek judicial review of this Order. The Commission and the appropriate District Court of Appeal must receive notice of appeal within 30 days of the date this Order is filed with the Clerk of the Commission. Explanation of the right

to appeal is found in Section 120.68, Florida Statutes, and in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.110.

DONE AND ORDERED this 3rd day of November , 2011.

FOR THE FLORIDA COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS:

Commissioner Donna Elam, Panel Chairperson;

Commissioner Gayle Cannon; and

Commissioner Billy Whitefox Stall

Filed this 3rd day of November , 2011,

in Tallahassee, Florida.

____________/s/_____________

Violet Crawford, Clerk

Commission on Human Relations

2009 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32301

(850) 488-7082

FCHR Order No. 11-083

Page 4

NOTICE TO COMPLAINANT / PETITIONER

As your complaint was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you have the right to request EEOC to review this Commission’s final agency action. To secure a “substantial weight review” by EEOC, you must request it in writing within 15 days of your receipt of this Order. Send your request to Miami District Office (EEOC), One Biscayne Tower, 2 South Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2700, 27th Floor, Miami, FL 33131.

Copies furnished to:

Luis G. Arias

3526 Laurel Leaf Drive

Orange Park, FL 32065

McGowan’s Heating and Air Conditioning

c/o G. Alan Howard, Esq.

Milam, Howard, Nicandri,

Dees & Gillam, P.A.

14 East Bay Street

Jacksonville, FL 32202

Robert S. Cohen, Administrative Law Judge, DOAH

James Mallue, Legal Advisor for Commission Panel

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed to the above listed addressees this 3rd day of November , 2011.

By: ___________/s/______________

Clerk of the Commission

Florida Commission on Human Relations