• U.S. District Court
  • 3:13cv489
  • May 16 2014 (Date Decided)
  • Bryant, J.

A court can order the production of information concerning the discharge of an employee’s former supervisor, if that may lead to admissible information that helps the employee’s case and is not overly burdensome or prejudicial. The defendant, Sodexo, hired the plaintiff, a 54-year-old Ghanaian, to work as a food services director. In March 2010, the plaintiff transferred from a Sodexo facility in Iowa to Manchester Hospital in Connecticut. Co-workers allegedly mocked the plaintiff’s thick accent by imitating the sounds of jungle animals and acting out a commercial about a man with a thick accent. In December 2010, Sodexo transferred the plaintiff to the Woodlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, after she complained about co-workers. Sodexo discharged the plaintiff in November 2011. The plaintiff sued and alleged discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age and national origin. During discovery, the plaintiff requested the production of any documents concerning discrimination complaints filed between November 2006 and November 2011, and then moved to compel the production of a Milford worker’s 2012 complaint about disability discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) permits the discovery  of “nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense.” The District Court found that the 2012 disability complaint was beyond the scope of the plaintiff’s requests for production. “As the Defendant could not have failed to produce that which was not sought,” wrote the District Court, “the motion to compel information pertaining to this ADA claim is denied.” The plaintiff also moved to compel the production of information concerning the January 2013 discharge of the plaintiff’s former supervisor, District Manager Tom Farrell. Sodexo might have discharged Farrell because of his supervision of the plaintiff or other workers. Disclosure of the reasons for Farrell’s discharge could lead to admissible information that helps the plaintiff’s litigation. Production of this information will not overburden or prejudice Sodexo and will not unduly delay the plaintiff’s litigation. It would elevate form over substance to deny the plaintiff’s request. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion to compel the production of information concerning Farrell’s discharge.

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