A federal court in Oregon recently held that a corporate president may be liable for aiding and abetting discrimination. The case, Baker v. Maricle Indus., Inc., Case No. 6:16-cv-01793-AA (D. Or. Mar. 17, 2017), involves claims by an employee that the employer and its president discriminated against him on the basis of his perceived and actual disability, in violation of the ADA and Oregon law, and unlawfully retaliated against him by discharging him for his complaints of a hostile work environment, in violation of state law. The president moved for partial summary judgment arguing, among other things, that because he was the principal actor in the alleged discrimination, he could not be liable for aiding and abetting himself.
The court denied defendant’s motion, finding that:
When a corporate president acts outside her scope of employment, she acts in her personal capacity, not as an agent of the corporation, and is, therefore, a third party to the plaintiff’s relationship to the corporation. Under those conditions, the Court could hold Mr. Maricle liable for aiding and abetting ServiceMaster Cleaning Specialists under Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.030(1)(g).
Factors relevant to determining whether one is “acting in the course and scope” include (1) whether the act occurred substantially within the time and space limits authorized by the employment and (2) whether the act is of a kind which the employee was hired to perform. As the court stated, making that determination is a question of fact and in this case defendant did not argue that plaintiff could not show he acted outside the course and scope of his employment. Therefore, he did not meet his burden to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as required by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and relevant case law.
A copy of the opinion may be found here: https://casetext.com/case/baker-v-maricle-indus-inc