Amato v. Hearst Corp.
Placement of an employee on a performance improvement plan may not qualify as an "adverse employment action," in the absence of any other material changes in conditions of employment, such as pay, benefits or employment status. In October 2011, the defendant employer, Hearst Corp., allegedly placed the plaintiff, a senior reporter at the Connecticut Post, on a performance improvement plan. The plaintiff, Anne Amato, sued Hearst Corp., alleging age discrimination. Hearst Corp. filed a motion to strike. To prove a prima facie case of age discrimination, a plaintiff must prove: 1.) she belonged to a protected class; 2.) she was qualified; and 3.) she suffered an adverse employment action in circumstances that led to an inference of discrimination on the basis of age. Amato did not allege that she was discharged, that her work schedule was changed or that she was required to fulfill additional requirements. "[T]he plaintiff in the present case," wrote the court, "is still employed by the defendant and does not allege any material changes in her employment as a result of the [performance improvement] plan." The plaintiff failed to allege an "adverse employment action," as required to prove a prima facie case of age discrimination, and the court granted the defendant employer's motion to strike.