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Updated: Oct 6, 2022

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:

  1. The plaintiff was a member of a “protected group” (e.g., gender, race, etc.).

  2. The plaintiff was, in fact, qualified for every aspect of the job s/he was seeking.

  3. The plaintiff was rejected for the position despite possessing the necessary qualifications; and

  4. 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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