Saturday, June 11, 2011

Matt Roloff's Unsuccessful Lawsuit VS Former Employer Re: Disability Discrimination



When discussing the Roloffs current lawsuit against Washington County, people occasionally refer to Matt's past history of lawsuits. Sometimes when people allude to things about public figures, you wonder if it's rumor, fact or what exactly was the whole story?

During an episode of Little People, Big World in Season Six, viewers heard Matt while giving a presentation refer to his past employment. He told a story about being hired without being seen by his employer and then feeling that they were disappointed and shocked when they met him and saw that he had dwarfism.

It is true that Matt did actually sue a former employer whom he worked for in 2001/2002 on the grounds of disability discrimination. The judge ruled against Matt -- and actually the judge's decision against Matt was very strongly worded (such as "only the plaintiffs own self-serving statements about his job performance..." or "Plaintiff grossly overstates the evidence or draws unsupportable inferences from the record"
).

We have the public record with a detail explanation of the case and the judge's decision which was dated May 2006. For people wondering about a Little People, Big World timeline, the Roloffs began filming the season one of the Little People, Big World series in 2005 and it began airing in March 2006.

We thought people might find it interesting to see the details of Matt's lawsuit and the verdict for themselves. The document is located here:


It is quite lengthy so we will attempt to briefly summarize the main part of the case -- although you're encouraged to read it for yourself.

Basically, this is the story...Matt was hired by SAP America in November 2001. In July 2001 - the company had decided to establish a new sales force called CRM Sales team (Customer Relationship Management). Matt was hired in Nov 2001 as a CRM Solution Engineer.

By June of 2002 -- upper management determined that the CRM Sales Force was a failure and disbanded the CRM unit -- terminating some Solution Engineers and moving some others into other jobs in the organization. There were 125 people affected -- 50 other Solution Engineers and Matt Roloff affected.

According to the company (which Matt disputed) they determined which Solution Engineers would be terminated based on a number of performance criteria -- things like analytical and operation skills, technical knowledge, revenue, etc.)

According to them, out of the 51 Solution Engineers - Matt ranked in last place. Four Executives were laid off at the same time. Matt's original boss had been fired in Feb 2002 for "performance related reasons".

Matt sued the company alleging disability discrimination. The document is quite detailed, but the crux of the lawsuit seems to revolve around a series of emails between Matt and his boss regarding his boss asking Matt to represent the company at a Trade Show in Anaheim, April 7th 2002. Matt emailed him expressing concern about the height of the booths. Matt said in the past he had difficulty reaching keyboards and wondered if his lack of mobility impedes his effectiveness and asked his boss for his thoughts. His boss thought it would be fine.

Matt's boss then emailed several other people, the Director of Events, etc. That person said if they knew which booth or "pod" Matt would be using they would make appropriate modifications.

Then someone involved the Human Resources Business Partner. They wrote an email to Matt's boss:

"My concern is that if Matt is to work the pod and he may need a special accommodation to do this, we need time in advance to make the arrangements/evaluate the cost to do this. Matt may not feel this is the best use of his time, but this is not his call. If the mobility issue is a factor, we need to try to eradicate it as best we can, so he can still function at ASUG."

Matt's boss then emailed Matt explaining that there is a stool that sits on a raised pedestal. He asked Matt if that presented a problem?

Matt wrote back:

"Bill,
I'll give you the bottom line.
It's not easy for me at Tradeshows—It's difficult to talk with people when they are standing and "milling" around. When the terminals are high it's even more challenging.
I used to do them often and can make it work. I'll be happy to do ASUG if you think it's best. If you don't care—I'd prefer to pass. Either way I'm a happy camper."


Matt then emailed the Director of Events. The Director of Events asked Matt to reply back if he knew what type of pod would be used. Then the Director then emailed Matt's boss saying that Matt hadn't replied back about the type of pod being used. Matt's boss emailed Matt asking him to email two more people to find out what type of pod would be used.

Matt emailed his boss the following, saying not to worry about it and it was embarrassing that there were so many people involved. Matt said he would just crawl up on the stool.

"Bill, Let's not worry about this anymore. I've left a voice message for Dan—If Dan (or I will) bring a small step stool. I'm sure I can get up on the bar stools. It's more embarrassing to be making a big deal out of it and contacting half the world to try and figure this out.
I never met a stool I couldn't somehow crawl up on. It may look funny—But I can always get up."



Matt's boss replied::

"Hi Matt,
Good enough for me. My intention here is to let you know that we are committed to removing any obstacles that would prevent your participation in these shows. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable about it, just that we are committed to affording you reasonable accommodations when requested and where required.
Bill"


Matt didn't make any more requests about it and successfully worked the trade show and did not report any difficulties.


This picture of Matt in the Ewok costume that was displayed
on Matt's website, factored into the judge ruling against Matt.
His boss had told Matt she heard he had played in Ewok in Star
Wars. Matt said he found the comment offensive and dismissive.

Another incident cited in Matt's lawsuit was his initial meeting with one of the upper managers - director of Solutions Support - Mary Sibley. Matt alleged this was one of two derogatory comments made about him. In his first meeting with Ms. Sibley, Matt said she mentioned that she had heard that Matt had played an Ewok in the Star Wars films. In the lawsuit, Matt said he found the comment offensive and dismissive of his accomplishments.

The judge ruled against Matt that the comment was discrimatory based on 3 reasons:

1. Matt acknowledged the comment was made in a friendly demeanor and tone when they were talking about his experiences.

2. Matt did indeed play an Ewok in Star Wars.

3. Matt had displayed a picture of himself in the Ewok costume on his own website which was developed by a friend of Matt's. The judge concluded that showed that Matt did not object to the picture or reference.

The judge ruled in favor of the Defendant in the case. The explanation is quite lengthy, but included:

"Plaintiffs declaration offers nothing more than his own self-serving statements about his job performance and value to the company. He does not show that less qualified, non-disabled Solutions Engineers were retained. He does not produce evidence of the performance of other Solutions Engineers to show that he was somehow treated less favorably because of his disability and thereby cast doubt on defendant's articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory motive. Moreover, the Ninth Circuit has held that "an employee's subjective personal judgments of his competence alone do not raise a genuine issue of material fact."

Accordingly, plaintiff fails to produce specific and substantial circumstantial evidence of pretext to create a genuine dispute about defendant's articulated motive. Defendant's motion should be granted.[5]

CONCLUSION

Defendant's motion for summary judgment (# 22) should be granted."


http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16788799950721015190&q=Roloff+v.+SAP+Am.,+Inc&hl=en&as_sdt=802&as_vis=1


21 comments:

Austin said...

WOW! The Roloff hypocrisy grows!

Let me get this right.

Matt thinks it's not big deal and people should just get over it when members of his family use "N*gger", "not to be a gay bragging f*ggot", "dyke", Mexico is "that beaner place", "cross-eyed downies". Anybody offended and disgusted by Roloff so-called diversity advocates are just mean haters.

But!!!

Matt thinks someone pleasantly making chit-chat saying "I heard you played an Ewok in Star Wars" is offensive to Matt????

David said...

Thanks Spirits. A very interesting read.

It sounds straight-forward to me. A company with a high turnover rate that was all bottome line and constantly terminating management, employees and positions made a mass cut and one of them was Matt.

If I recall correctly, this would have been the start of the Roloffs falling on hard financial times. Just before Little People Big Dreams when Amy said "Life sucks" and her parents needed to pay for Zach's braces.

Matt looked for anything he could that would be easy and free money and sued.

It's people like Matt that give minorities a bad name. 10 other people could have got the exact same treatment, but because it happened to them, they allege that the decision makers were discriminating.

Christine said...

The judge sounded pissed off at Matt! lol :)

Bonnie said...

I guess the Roloffs don't pay attention to the Bible. Jesus was not fond of people that spent their lives suing others.

There's nothing inspirational about people like the Roloffs that sue every one.

Timothy said...

I agree, by what I read, that it's typical Matt. He had no case and was reaching for a money grab.

The comment he found offensive was ridiculous. Totally harmless and not derogatory.

The only thing I have to say is that I'm not surprised that sales force was a failure.

It sounds typical of "The Powers That Be" at companies that I'm familiar with. A simple request inquire turns into a huge ordeal involving several top management staff that spend way too much time emailing and talking about who and how they should handle it.

It sounds like my employer that has meetings about the meetings to meet about how long the break should be in the meeting.

Dana said...

In my opinion, the judge's tone was very unprofessional for a judge. Perhaps the judge had prejudice.

People are missing the point about the Ewok comment. It was the fact that it was one of Matt's boss.

Matt had spent his life in the software industry. It is dismissive for one of the first comments the boss makes was about being an Ewok instead of Matt's business accomplishments.

I don't have faith in their ranking Matt 51st out of 51 people when the people making those rankings are the same people that Matt felt was discriminating against him.

Marc said...

That's awful. The Roloffs are always looking for bogus reasons to sue. The U.S needs to do something to prevent all these lawsuits.

The Roloffs need to learn to make money for themselves instead of always looking for handouts.

Justin said...

Some people have chips on their shoulders. Matt has a giant one. You can see it in how passive aggressive he is.

He was one of many caught up in a mass firing. Something (his quest for money) makes him think he was let go because he has dwarfism with no evidence or reason to think that.

When people like Matt sue over this stuff or claim the find a nice harmless comment like "I heard you were an Ewok in the movie" offensive it makes people think they shouldn't say one word to someone with a difference because they'll get offended at whatever they say.

Rap541 said...

Dana - you may actually want to read the case.
Especially this part.

Plaintiffs declaration offers nothing more than his own self-serving statements about his job performance and value to the company. He does not show that less qualified, non-disabled Solutions Engineers were retained. He does not produce evidence of the performance of other Solutions Engineers to show that he was somehow treated less favorably because of his disability and thereby cast doubt on defendant's articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory motive. Moreover, the Ninth Circuit has held that "an employee's subjective personal judgments of his competence alone do not raise a genuine issue of material fact."

See, in a court, you have to prove your claims.

Washington County didn't prove Matt was drunk during his second DUI trial and therefore Matt isn't guity of DUI.

Matt didn't prove he was discriminated against in this lawsuit - therefore his previous employers didn't fire him because they hate dwarfs and you insisting they did is you bringing on the hate toward *innocent* people. You don't like it when Matt's called a drunk driver, right? Dana? I'd like an answer today on this one - you don't like it when Matt's called a drunk driver because he was actually found not guilty right?

If your answer is "yes, its wrong to call Matt a drunk driver because the *judge* found in his favor" then you really really need to think about how a *judge* found in favor of Matt's employers here...

And remember if your arguememnt is that judges can make mistakes... I will be reminding you of that the next time you get all upset over Matt being called a drunk driver :)

SInce, you know, judges make mistakes...

nyc said...

Don't waste your time arguing with someone whose legal "expertise" comes from watching the People's Court, Rap.

And she's also an "expert" in Judicial Ethics. What a laugh.

Rob said...

I think the same thing will happen in their suit against the County. The Roloffs waste so many taxpayer dollars.

Cookie said...

Dana: I read the Judge's ruling in it's entirety and frankly I didn't see where the Judge was "unprofessional"--please cite where and what specifically in his ruling where you think that. Let's remember, a Judge is simply what the name implies--a Judge. Frankly, I personally think the Judge went beyond the typical judicial ruling and cited in many instances exactly what Matt did not prove regarding his case of discrimination.
Also Dana, the employer ranked the employees BEFORE Matt filed his lawsuit--not after. Matt's a loser simple as that and will go, clearly, to any lengths to hang himself out to the public as someone he's not but wants us to believe. Matt has more self esteem issues than any one I've ever met or read about--if you don't agree with Matt, he cries "discrimination" because he's short and just simply an idiot. These folks, the entire Roloff clan just simply need to go away.

Anne said...

I think there should have been more emphasis put on the email first email in bold. It mentions examining the cost to of modifying it to Matt's needs and suggests that maybe Matt shouldn't do the trade show.

Why keep the disabled person around if they need to a pour a cent into modifying the setting when an able-bodied person does not require spending any time or money on the modifications?

Matt could have felt they viewed him as a burden because of simple request.

Anne said...

" These folks, the entire Roloff clan just simply need to go away."

Cookie, you're going to be very unhappy. Matt said they made progress with TLC and had a dinner to celebrate it. Amy says it might take a week before the ink is dried. Roloffs are coming back!

Rap541 said...

Anne if you're correct about this:

"Matt could have felt they viewed him as a burden because of simple request. "

Then *Matt* should not have told them to drop it and that he had no problem climbing up a stool. Its the fact that the company was able to produce an email where Matt said he did not need them to make accomadations that screwed Matt.

I could make a cruel remark about Matt proclaiming himself to be a fighter... but really, Anne, the problem here is that Matt backed down and left evidence of backing down. If he genuinely needed accomadations, he should have fought for them, and he didn't.

Rap541 said...

Anne - to be fair, didn't Matt say on April 25 that it was already certain that new episodes were happening?

Why aren't you citing Matt's words of truth on his facebook on april 25th?

You know... before he backpeddled?

Anne? Have *anything* to say other than "Matt is a Christian who always speaks truth"?

BeckyM said...

Wow! Great investigative journalism Spirit!

I've long suspected that Matt's employment history was full of baloney - and have posted my doubts on Spirits site. The mystery that surronded Matt's employment such as names of companies and the name of the software he created/sold has been shrouded in mystery.

Typically motivational speakers yell from the rooftops who they were worked for and their accomplishments. This software that Matt "wrote" (highly doubt that) has never been clarified on his show - what is the name? for what industry? where is it now sold?

If he is a programmer, then why have I never seen him doing programming? I am married to a computer programmer with two degrees, one in mathmatics, and who has been in this field for 30 years. My brother has been a programmer for 40. Matts' personality and skill sets are not typical of programmers or those who think like them. He's more like a game show host. ROFL!

The cachet of "Successful businessman" doesn't fit with the factual information that Spirit (great work!) dug up in public record. Proof positive that Matt exaggerates his work history and has blown it into something that it simply ain't.

Once again, all Matt reminds me of is someone who sells snake oil off the back of his truck at the local flea market.

Cookie said...

Anne: Trust me when I say that my happiness does not depend upon whether or not the Roloffs continue to whore themselves out to TLC ~ honestly I look at LPBW as something similar to a train wreck--just can't not look it's so awful. Once again, they both prove that they have no talent or skills to get real jobs--and with Matt's incredible programming talent and Amy's cooking skills--that's just shocking.

Kelly said...

"During an episode of Little People, Big World in Season Six, viewers heard Matt while giving a presentation refer to his past employment. He told a story about being hired without being seen by his employer and then feeling that they were disappointed and shocked when they met him and saw that he had dwarfism."

That was the problem with shows like Little People, Big World. The producers were not objective. Thus it became a joke. They allowed Matt to say whatever he felt like. They never presented the other side of the story or the real facts.

Matt was not discriminated against. The judge made that clear in fine detail.

Nancy said...

Spirits, thank you. That was enlightening to learn.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot