Sunday, March 31, 2013

Me Too? Too Far

"Me too" evidence is when the plaintiff attempts to prove discrimination against him or her by offering evidence that others suffered similar discrimination.  The courts admit this evidence as proof of intent or motive, where it otherwise would be excluded as "character" evidence.

The Court of Appeal rejected the attempted use of "me too" evidence in a case where an employee claimed his boss discriminated against him because of his Asian national origin.  But this employee did not seek to admit "me too" evidence to show that the boss discriminated against other Asians.  Rather, the employee tried to admit evidence showing the boss discriminated against anyone who was not "Arab."

The trial court excluded the evidence as more prejudicial than probative under Evidence Code Section 352. The Court of Appeal affirmed:

Here, Hatai alleged he is a person of “Asian or Japanese race or national origin or ancestry,” and that he suffered discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of his national origin and/or race. Thus, the “me-too” doctrine entitled Hatai to present evidence that other employees at Caltrans of east Asian or Japanese descent had been subjected to similar discrimination. However, given the nature of Hatai‟s lawsuit, the “me-too” doctrine did not entitle Hatai to present evidence of discrimination against employees outside of Hatai’s protected class to show discrimination or harassment against Hatai.

 The case is Hatai v. Department of Transportation and the opinion is here.