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Worker fired for sending hostile emails, not discrimination: Court


A hospital ultrasound technician was terminated because of the hostile emails she sent to her supervisor, evidence shows, and not because of age or national origin discrimination as she claimed, said an appeals court in upholding a lower court's ruling.

Margarita Zayas was discharged in April 2011 for sending a series of disrespectful emails to her supervisor despite the supervisor's warnings to stop, according to Thursday's ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in Margarita Zayas v. Rockford Memorial Hospital.

Ms. Zayas, who is Puerto Rican, filed suit against the Rockford, Ill., hospital in federal court in Chicago, charging it with both national origin discrimination and having a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and with age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. She was 55 at the time of her termination.

There is little evidence to support her claims, according to the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the appeals court.

The age discrimination claim, said the panel, “is based solely on the fact that she was the oldest technician in the department and was replaced by a younger employee. Zayas provided no other evidence to support this claim.”

As for the national origin claims, her evidence includes her statement that several technicians called her “Maria” even though she asked them not to do so, said the ruling.

The appeals court ruling said Ms. Zayas' emails “were perceived as negative, unprofessional and disrespectful towards her managers and peers.”


Despite two meetings with her supervisor and human resources employees in which they warned Ms. Zayas about sending her supervisor inappropriate emails, she continued to write emails of the “same nature,” which led to a formal written warning that she continued to ignore, according to the ruling.

“Despite Zayas’ many claims, there is insufficient evidence to find that her termination was based on anything but the many disrespectful emails she sent to (her supervisor),” said the panel, in affirming the ruling by the federal court that dismissed the case.