Human Resources Expert Witness Testimony Allowed In Employment Discrimination Case

Summary: Human Resources Expert Witness testimony allowed in part because the court determined that the expert’s testimony had a reasonable factual basis.

Facts – This case (Shampine v. U.S. Foods, Inc. – United States District Court – Eastern District of Tennessee – November 21, 2022) involves an employment claim.  The plaintiff, Thomas Shampine, claims that the defendant, U.S. Foods, fired him due to his disability and age.  He alleges that U.S. Foods was aware that he had Parkinson’s Disease and they should had given him advanced notice of a complaint by an another employee and other issues.  In addition, the plaintiff accuses the defendant of disparate treatment of heterosexual, Caucasian male employees.  The defendant hired Human Resources Expert Witness Ginger McRae to provide expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: First, the plaintiff alleges that McRae’s report is not reliable or relevant.  First, the plaintiff argued that this case is about “intentional discrimination” and is fact based.  The plaintiff argued that McRae’s expert witness report is not grounded in the facts of the case, is not based on scientific theory, and will not be helpful to the trier of fact.

The court opined that McRae’s expert witness testimony is reliable based on her professional background as well as her reliance on valid human resources publications.

Also, the plaintiff alleges that McRae’s testimony should not be allowed because her opinions lack consideration and do not mention any of the material facts.  The court opined that McRae’s opinion has a reasonable factual basis in that she reviewed numerous documents filed in the case as well as the defendant’s investigative file.

In addition, the plaintiff argued that McRae’s expert witness opinions should not be allowed because she opined on legal issues and engaged in legal analysis.  The court dismissed this argument by stating that it was largely repetitive of the plaintiff’s argument that McRae did not consider all of the material facts.

The court, however, did opine that McRae could not testify that the defendant made conclusions consistent with the information it gathered.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinions of Ginger McRae is granted in part and denied in part.