Pervez Rashid, a Muslim of Pakistani descent and manager of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”), received satisfactory performance reviews under a prior manager.FN1 Rashid received a new manager, his job title and duties changed and his performance decreased, resulting in WMATA firing him. Rashid sued for religious discrimination, but lost because, although he satisfactorily performed under the prior manager (an argument Rashid made), “when a district court evaluates the question of whether an employee was meeting an employer’s legitimate employment expectations, the issue is not the employee’s past performance but whether the employee was performing well at the time of [his] termination.”FN2
Under his new manager, Rashid was warned during his mid-year review that he was not on target to meet seven of nine objectives, and in his year-end review, he was deemed not to have met eight out of the nine objectives, with an overall performance rating of “improvement required.” WMATA explained that many of Rashid’s failures had potentially considerable consequences, and his employment was terminated as a result.
The Court held that through Rashid’s current performance review and objectives, the WMATA clearly established its expectations and demonstrated Plaintiff failed to meet its expectations. Plaintiff offered no evidence that he met these objectives, or that they were Illegitimate, and thus his claim was dismissed.
Document, Document, Document
Employers cannot be reminded enough to accurately document employees’ performance issues, and this case illustrates the importance. Often, supervisors will not give performance reviews that accurately reflect the employee’s performance for fear of hurting feelings or making the workplace awkward. However, when the company goes to terminate the employment of poor performers and performance reviews do not align with the employer’s reason for discharge, it can lead to claims of pretext in the decision. In this case, due to the company’s accurate documentation, the company was able to convince the Court that the employee was fired for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons, and not because of his religion.
FN1 – Rashid v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2018 BL 98996, D. Md., DKC 17-0726 (3/22/18)
FN2 – Quoting Peele v. Country Mut. Ins. Co., 288 F.3d 319, 329 (7th Cir. 2002) (emphasis added).