Workplace Discrimination Expert Witness’s Testimony Correctly Admitted


In Bennett v. CSX Transportation, Inc. the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has ruled that a social science expert witness had relevant, specialized knowledge that could help the trier of fact understand evidence. The Court reasoned:


Nor is the Court persuaded that it erred in admitting the testimony of plaintiff’s expert witness, Dr. William Darity. Dr. Darity was admitted as an expert and allowed to express his opinion on the issue of workplace discrimination. Dr. Darity’s admission as an expert and testimony were proper under Rules 403, 702, and 704 of the rules of evidence as relevant, specialized knowledge offered to help the trier of fact understand the evidence, and his testimony is “not objectionable just because it embrace[d] an ultimate issue” before the jury. Fed.R.Evid. 704.4 Defendant’s Daubert challenge to Dr. Darity’s testimony also fails. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Social science has not been held to the same standard as the hard sciences when determining admissibility, Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., 130 .3d 1287, 1297 (8th Cir.1997), and defendant had an ample opportunity to “quibble with [Dr. Darity’s] academic training” and other alleged shortcomings on cross-examination, the appropriate place for defendant to attack the weight and credibility of plaintiff’s evidence. McCullock v. H.B. Fuller, Co., 61 F.3d 1038, 1043 (2nd Cir.1995); see also Katt v. City of New York, 151 F.Supp.2d 313, 356–8 (S.D.N.Y.2001) (declining to sustain Daubert challenge to social science testimony provided in sexual harassment trial in part because defendant’s challenges to the evidence were properly addressed during cross-examination).