In both a district court and a court of appeals, Koppers, Inc. defeated claims by a terminated employee of race and sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Our firm represented the Illinois chemical manufacturer before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, including writing the winning brief in Johnson v. Koppers, Inc., 7th Cir., No. 12-2561.
Koppers discharged an employee after she failed to correct her behavior following five instances of insubordination. However, the employee brought a “cat’s paw” theory, claiming that a male coworker who harbored racially discriminatory feelings toward her plotted with Koppers’ management to terminate her and provided a false report to her supervisor. On August 8, 2013, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that there was no evidence to substantiate the plaintiff’s claims and that the employee’s failure to meet job qualifications doomed her prima facie case of discrimination and sank her arguments of pretext.