After seven years, a former Eli Lilly worker’s racial discrimination suit goes to trial today.
Cassandra Welch was fired in 2004 over accusations she falsified emails. Welch contends it was actually payback for raising allegations of racial harassment.
More than 150 Lilly workers filed similar claims, but a federal judge rejected a request to turn the case into a class-action suit.
IU McKinney School of Law Professor Robert Brookins is not involved in the case, but explains that in general, when an employer in a discrimination case offers a legitimate reason for the worker’s treatment, the burden of proof shifts back to the worker.
“If the reason the employer gave is established as untrue, then they can infer from that evidence that the real reason was because of the employee’s race,” Brookins said.
Because this is a civil trial, not criminal, the standard is not beyond a reasonable doubt, but which side is more likely to be telling the truth.