In the News August 12, 2014

Brett Coburn Quoted in Human Resource Executive on “Failure to Train”

A recent decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that a company’s failure to train an employee for potentially higher-paying opportunities can be grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit.

The 6th Circuit appeals court may not have “thought it was doing anything remarkable in this case,” said Brett Coburn, partner in Alston & Bird’s Labor & Employment Group. “The notion that a failure to provide training could be an adverse employment action; I don’t think the court viewed it as something new.”

However, he added, a “failure to train” is a more subtle and less common component of employment discrimination claims, compared to termination or other adverse actions.

Coburn likens the plaintiff in the case—Charles E. Reed v. Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company— to that of a salesperson who argues that not being sent to a particular conference or being assigned to a lucrative sales territory—while others were—could have cost him or her valuable connections and ultimately more money.

“This case is akin to a situation like that,” says Coburn. “A salesperson says, ‘You didn’t give me the same opportunities you gave to another employee, and as a result that impacted my compensation.’ It’s really just a specific application of that general concept.”
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