• January 6, 2010

Former BBB CEO Albert Lee Hubbell suffers from bipolar disorder, which he shared with his employer.  Nonetheless, revenue increased under his leadership, he was highly praised in 360-degree reviews, and he was well compensated.  But he apparently neglected to share that he involved the BBB in a business transaction with the romantic partner of a buddy of his, he made 30,000 color copies on BBB equipment for non-BBB work, and, when asked about it, allegedly “finessed” a bit for a time as to what he had been up to.

So, when Hubbell was terminated, the question became whether he was terminated for a lawful reason (misconduct) or an unlawful reason (disability).  Sr. U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty (D. Minn.) weighed in, in favor of the BBB and granted the BBB summary judgment against Hubbell’s claims.

For those doing employment litigation, Judge Doty’s discussion of the “cat’s paw” theory of liability (whereby an employer may have unlawful discriminatory animus behind an adverse employment decision so he farms out the execution order to some third party to recommend termination, the terminator thereby trying to whitewash the process) may be of some interest.  The theory, Judge Doty pointed out, cannot be applicable when the individual who allegedly harbors the animus is a subordinate in the organization, essentially without the power to delegate the axing.

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