Last year, a few major U.S. Supreme Court rulings turned 50 years old. The first case to come to many minds probably is the landmark 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade. However, the name at the tips of employment lawyers’ tongues probably is the discrimination case of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose reach encompasses federal matters in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama,) issued a significant decision clarifying exactly how the McDonnell Douglas case’s precedent does — and does not — impact discrimination litigation today. If you have questions about employment discrimination, you need to consult a knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer who can provide you with information that is fully up to date.
The recent discrimination case, decided in December, involved L.T., an African-American woman and the superintendent of a juvenile detention center, and her employer, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. After one particularly problematic day at the center, the assistant secretary of detention services assembled a team to review staffing and personnel issues at L.T.’s facility. After the team completed that review, the assistant secretary fired L.T., despite the superintendent’s 16-year record devoid of negative performance reviews or discipline.
The superintendent sued for race and sex discrimination. A key part of her case was comparator evidence; namely, that two similarly situated white Juvenile Justice employees had faced similar problems but were treated very differently. The department immediately fired L.T.; the two white superintendents who similarly faced allegations of a lack of control and a failure to follow departmental policies “received only oral reprimands, were allowed to transfer to different facilities, and were granted multiple opportunities to comply with various recommendations for improvement.”