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Burns v. Thiokol Chemical Corporation

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Burns (plaintiff) was fired by his employer Thiokol Chemical Corporation (defendant).

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    When a plaintiff sues under Title VII, all the defendant’s employees background information and employment practices are to be treated as discoverable information.

    Facts.

    Plaintiff was employed by the defendant and after the defendant fired the plaintiff, the plaintiff alleged he was fired based on race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The plaintiff sued and in a series of interrogatories requested the background of all the defendant’s previous white employees including name, gender, and education. The plaintiff also requested a list of all employees of the defendant, their background, what positions they were hired for, and a list of the non-bargaining employees and their job descriptions. The defendant argued the requests were of no consequence and unduly burdensome.

    Issue.

    Whether when a plaintiff sues under Title VII, all the defendant’s employees background information and employment practices are to be treated as discoverable information.

    Held.

    Yes. When a plaintiff sues under Title VII, all the defendant’s employees background information and employment practices are to be treated as discoverable information.

    Discussion.

    The information requested in the interrogatories is relevant and while the court should impose some restrictions on what is discoverable, to avoid an undue burden on the defendant, that information is still relevant and discoverable. All the information requested was required to prove the plaintiffs’ claims. If the trial court had felt information requested was too burdensome or irrelevant, they could have told the plaintiff to seek an alternative or limited what information the plaintiff could have requested. Here, it was an undue burden to require the defendant to overturn all the information about all the employees.


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