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First Circuit affirms jury verdict against Boy Scouts in religion, national origin discrimination case

On March 22, 2013, the First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Mohegan Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s appeal that it filed following a trial in which a jury found that it discriminated against a former employee on the basis of his religion and national origin. The former employee, Kamal Aly, is an Egyptian-American Muslim who worked for the Boy Scouts as a District Executive. The jury found that the Boy Scouts denied Mr. Aly the ability to advance to the position of Senior Executive Director because of his religion and national origin.

According to Mr. Aly, the Boy Scouts failed to send him for training that he needed in order to obtain a promotion to the position of Senior Executive Director. The Boy Scouts claimed that it did not send Mr. Aly for this training because of issues with his job performance. However, Mr. Aly’s performance reviews were relatively good. The Boy Scouts also claimed that it did not send Mr. Aly for training because of complaints it had received from some volunteers. However, Mr. Aly had previously reported to his supervisor that these volunteers were discriminating against him because he was Muslim. The volunteers’ discriminatory treatment came on the heels of Mr. Aly’s efforts to recruit new Boy Scout members and volunteers at local area mosques. The Boy Scouts never investigated Mr. Aly’s complaint of discriminatory treatment. The Boy Scouts also claimed that it did not send Mr. Aly for training because of budgetary constraints but this reason did not seem plausible because Mr. Aly offered to pay for the training himself and forgo a pay raise when he returned. Also, the Boy Scouts sent someone else for the training that Mr. Aly requested despite its supposed budgetary constraints.

Since the Boy Scouts’ explanations for its actions could be seen as excuses that lacked credibility, the First Circuit held that the jury acted reasonably when it inferred that discrimination motivated the Boy Scouts’ decision to deny Mr. Aly career advancement opportunities. This is a rather common way for employees to prove that their employer’s discriminated against them. Employers rarely admit that they discriminated against an employee. Instead, they offer untrue excuses to cover up or rationalize their discrimination. Experienced employment lawyers are good at proving these excuses are just a “smoke screen” for discrimination.

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