Former shareholder couldn’t sue for discrimination

Bob Mariotti was a manager, shareholder and director of a family company that sold building supplies. At some point he experienced a “spiritual awakening” and began to expound religious ideas that often offended the other members of his family.

Eventually, the rest of the family decided to fire him as a manager. However, he continued to receive compensation as a shareholder and to act as a director for another six months, until he was voted out of those positions as well.

Mariotti sued the company for religious discrimination. But a federal appeals court in Philadelphia rejected his suit.

The court said that Mariotti might well have been discriminated against because of his religion, but he couldn’t sue because he wasn’t an “employee.” Since Mariotti was a shareholder and a director, he had a major say in how the company operated, the court explained. So even though he didn’t have total control of the company, he wasn’t a mere “employee,” and therefore the law didn’t protect him.