On November 1, 2016, Jared A. Jacobson, Esq., and Alexander F. Chasan, Esq. of the Law Firm of Jacobson & Rooks, LLC filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (“Petition”) with the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) in the matter of Leigh Ann Harris v. The Vanguard Group, Inc.
The question presented to SCOTUS is whether the lower court erroneously applied a heightened evidentiary standard at the pleading stage to Harris’ Title VII employment discrimination claim. In the Petition, Mr. Jacobson and Mr. Chasan argue that the Magistrate Judge’s findings, affirmed by the District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, imposed a significantly higher pleading burden than that contemplated by the intent and purpose of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure’s notice pleading requirement, contending that Harris’ pleadings “on their face,” were not sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.
The District Court affirmed the Magistrate’s findings because Harris failed to “plausibly assert that she suffered an adverse employment action and that she was treated differently from other employees who held other religious beliefs.” In summarily dismissing Harris’ claims, the Magistrate appears to be evaluating Harris’ credibility viz-a-viz, the facts presented. Such an evaluation necessarily lends itself to an evidentiary analysis, falling outside the purview of Magistrate Judge’s responsibility and is a clear error of law.