During my entire career, I have been proud
about being good at my craft. Well, I was wrong!
Taking the MJ program at Tulane University opened my eyes –
literally! Let me explain.
As a Human Resources professional, you need to know about
employment law, and I assumed I already knew a lot. Before taking
the MJ program, I had taken various HR seminars, webinars, courses,
read books - you name it - all on employment law and labor relations.
Then it happened. I had my first discrimination complaint. I followed
our internal process, investigated it, summarized my findings, and
told the employee there was no discrimination and closed the case.
No big deal. I've got this. Wrong! The employee filed a claim and we
lost. I was confused, unclear what had gone wrong. I had all the
facts. I had done the investigation. I had done everything that I had
learned in HR seminars. But, I was at a loss and unclear how to make sure
this would never happen again.
It is not until my first semester of the MJ program where I learned all about
Title VII, a prima facie case for a claim involving employment discrimination
and what the court will generally require as proof of the following facts:
The plaintiff was a member of a “protected group” (e.g., gender, race, etc.).
The plaintiff was, in fact, qualified for every aspect of the job s/he was seeking.
The plaintiff was rejected for the position despite possessing the necessary qualifications; and
After rejected, the employer continued to search for job applicants who had the exact same qualifications and/or skills as the plaintiff.
I had no idea that the plaintiff must produce enough evidence on all
four elements to support the claim and shift the burden of evidence
production to the respondent and that, if the plaintiff does not
present a prima facie case with sufficient evidence, the judge may
dismiss the case. Or, if the case is being heard by a jury, the judge
may direct the jury to return a verdict for the respondent. Where was
this information before and why had I never heard about
this in any of my HR courses?
That is when I realized that this is law school. I am actually learning
the law, and learning how to think like a lawyer. Although this program is
not a JD and you are not a lawyer, nor can you advise or practice law,
it teaches you the law, how to interpret it, how to research it, how
to write about it, and especially how to make sure you can win your case.
That was my aha! moment and when I took off the blinders that I had
been wearing my entire career!
About Ilda Andaluz:
Ilda is Human Resources Professional with over 20 years of experience in Global HR. She holds a Bachelors in Psychology from McGiIl University, an MBA from University of Phoenix, and will be graduating with a Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane University in December 2022. Ilda is originally from Montreal, Canada and moved to Houston, Texas in 2016. She lives with her husband and two sons. She speaks, reads and writes Spanish, French, English and Italian.
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