They used to laugh and call Rudolph names. They refused to let Rudolph play reindeer games. However, when it because too hazardous to safely navigate the night sky due to fog, Santa Claus had no problem using Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a navigation device. Worse yet, just how much money has Santa made on Rudolph merchandizing? Is Rudolph even collecting any royalties?
Could Rudolph sue Santa Claus for the treatment he endured at the hooves of the other reindeer based on respondent-superior for discrimination? Was Rudolph’s journey to the Island of Misfit Toys evidence of constructive discharge?
Well, Run Run Rudolph to your closest plaintiff’s lawyer to answer whether you have a case against Santa Claus.
Federal law prohibits discrimination based upon race, gender, age, religion, and multiple other factors. As a preliminary matter, Rudolph would need to show he was a member of a protected class in order to successfully bring a case against Santa as the employer of the discriminating reindeer.
Rudolph has a substantial problem because anti-discrimination laws apply to human beings and not magically flying reindeer that can talk. Assuming Rudolph can overcome the humanity barrier, there are no Title VII or similar discrimination cases based upon theories of “nasal discrimination for nose color.”
Moreover, neither Title VII nor the Americans with Disabilities Act include eye color, thus claiming “nose color discrimination,” is something no anti-discrimination law has stated for legal protection. Tracy v. Mount Ida College, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11183, 4 (D. Mass. Mar. 17, 1995) and Kelly v. Horizon Med. Corp., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43212, 32 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2014).
A Court might find Rudolph’s red nose to simply be a “physical characteristic,” such as being left-handed or a specific hair color, thus not qualifying for protection under any of the anti-discrimination laws.
However, Rudolph is not without legal recourse. A good trial lawyer could argue that Rudolph was discriminated against because of his age, specifically, his youth, because “age discrimination is broad enough to accommodate [claims] of age discrimination based on youth.” Bergen Commer. Bank v Sisler, 157 NJ 188, 196, . As such, if such a case went to trial, a jury could see the following “Naughty List” encapsulated in these jury instructions:
Rudolph Reindeer claims that he was subjected to harassment based on his age at Santa’s Workshop and Reindeer Stable at the North Pole, causing a hostile or abusive work environment. To establish this claim, Rudolph must prove all of the following:
1. That Rudolph the Reindeer was an employee of Santa Claus;
2. That Rudolph the Reindeer was subjected to unwanted harassing conduct because of his age;
3. That the harassing conduct was severe or pervasive;
4. That a reasonable reindeer in Rudolph’s circumstances would have considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive;
5. That Rudolph considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive;
6. That Santa Claus, who knows if you have been bad or good, knew or should have known of the conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action;
7. That Rudolph was harmed; and
8. That the conduct was a substantial factor in causing Rudolph’s harm.
The cruelty of the other reindeer should have been known by the omniscient Santa Claus. Moreover, driving Rudolph off with an elf aspiring to be a dentist can be directly attributed to the hostile work environment that Santa permitted in his workshop. As such, there could be a very strong case against Santa’s Workshop, but it will be very difficult to empanel a jury that is not biased towards Santa Claus for either being on or off the Nice List.