A teacher who is a white, Orthodox Jew was terminated from her position at the end of the school year. During the year, the teacher had issues entering her grades on time and the failure rate in her class increased. School administrators met with her on several occasions to discuss her grading practices, which did not comply with the school’s grading policy. School administrators reviewed student work and the teacher’s gradebook and determined that work did not have grades or feedback on it, the titles and dates of assignments did not match those in the gradebook, and there was no indication of whether student work had been meaningfully assessed.

After she was terminated, the teacher was replaced with a non-Jewish teacher. The teacher sued her former employer, alleging racial and religious discrimination and retaliation for protected activity. The court granted summary judgment to the school, finding that the school had demonstrated legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the teacher. The teacher appealed the decision.

The court of appeals noted that, in order to prove a claim of discrimination or retaliation, a plaintiff must show that she is a member of a protected class, was qualified for the position from which she was discharged, and was replaced by a person who is not a member of the protected class. If all of these factors can be proven, the employer must then produce evidence to show that the termination was justified by a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason.

In this instance, the court found that the teacher did meet these elements. However, the school had been able to produce evidence that the teacher was terminated based on repeated failures to follow the grading policy, not based on her religion. Therefore, the court of appeals found that the teacher had been terminated for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, upheld the decision of the district court and dismissed the lawsuit.