Sloat v. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co., No. 20-6169 (6th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In 2011, Hewlett-Packard hired Sloat, then 54, to develop training programs. For the next five years, his performance reviews were notably positive. In 2015, Sloat developed a highly0regarded training program. In 2016 Hewlett-Packard promoted Sloat to an executive-level position; he reported to Keller, who found that Sloat’s performance met expectations. After being transferred to a new team, Sloat then 60, was the oldest person reporting to his new manager, Hagler, who was immediately unfriendly toward Sloat. Hagler called Sloat “Uncle Ron” and “young man,” referred to “old skills," and asked Sloat, “When are you going to retire?” After Sloat reported his concerns, Hagler reassigned Sloat’s remaining responsibilities and tried to have Sloat reassigned. Hagler was told to wait until the company proceeded with a pending “significant downsizing” before firing him. In Sloat’s mid-year performance review, Hagler gave Sloat a performance rating of “Stalled.”
After his subsequent termination, Sloat sued, asserting age discrimination and retaliation under both the ADEA and the Tennessee Act. The district court granted Hewlett-Packard summary judgment “based substantially on the post-hoc explanations of Hewlett-Packard’s own witnesses.” The Sixth Circuit reversed. Many of the facts that support Sloat’s prima facie case for the discrimination claim would also allow a jury to find that Hagler had a retaliatory motive in setting Sloat up for termination and that Hewlett-Packard’s explanation for his termination was pretextual.