Employees who are victims of age discrimination may be able to submit a new kind of evidence at trial to prove their case. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn, which involved the issue of “me too” witnesses at trial.
Ellen Mendelsohn, who worked for Sprint for 13 years, was 51 years old at the time she was selected for a mass layoff. During trial, she sought to introduce the testimony of former employees who allegedly saw spreadsheets with the ages of employees targeted for layoffs and who allegedly heard managers make age-biased comments. Mendelsohn’s proposed witnesses had not worked for the same immediate supervisor as Mendelsohn and had not been dismissed from Sprint at the exact same time.
The Supreme Court granted Mendelsohn’s writ of certiorari on the issue of whether the federal rules of evidence allow victims of workplace discrimination to offer testimony of co-workers who may have suffered discrimination under similar circumstances, but under different supervisors.
Although the Supreme Court did not issue a definitive finding on the issue, the Court concluded that “such evidence is neither per se admissible nor per se inadmissible.” Notably, the Supreme Court stated that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had not fully explained her reasons for excluding Mendelsohn’s proposed witnesses. In doing so, the Court vacated the 10th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case back to the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.