Establishing a ‘Convincing Mosaic of Circumstantial Evidence’ in Support of Your Workplace Race Discrimination Case

When you seek to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment in your discrimination case, you may have multiple avenues through which you can do that. One is to provide the court “a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence that raises a reasonable inference that the employer discriminated against” you. A knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer can help you ensure you’re amassing and presenting the evidence you need to defeat your employer’s motion and get your day in court before a jury.

M.B. was a Black man whose race discrimination case advanced using that “mosaic” method.

M.B. began working at a manufacturing facility in Flowery Branch in 2006. He rose to shift lead but never ascended any higher. That professional stagnation was not for lack of trying. From February 2017 to January 2018 alone, he applied for promotions five different times. Five times the employer turned him down.

In each of the five incidents, the successful candidate was White. One time, the employer selected a White candidate who had both less experience and less education than M.B. possessed. After the fifth rejection, M.B. sued for race discrimination.

The Four Pieces of a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination

When yours is a discrimination case based upon a failure to promote – as M.B.’s was – you have to establish four essential things for your case to proceed:

  1. that you were a member of a protected class;
  2. that you were qualified for and applied for the promotion;
  3. that you were rejected despite your credentials; and
  4. that the individual who received the promotion was not a member of your protected class and had lesser or equal qualifications.

Once you’ve shown those things, the burden moves to your employer to present a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the actions it took. Assuming your employer can do that, the burden of proof shifts back to you.

According to the appeals court, the circumstantial proof the employee presented was enough to be a “convincing mosaic.” Of particular benefit to M.B.’s case was the employer’s practice of interim assignments. Under that practice, the employer would place an employee in an open role on an interim basis, even without having ever posted or advertised the opening. Instead, a supervisor simply would approach a given employee and ask them if they desired to take on the interim role. These interim titles, as the court noted, would give those employees crucial experience in the role, thereby giving them a “leg up” against other candidates and making them the “natural” choice to promote. These interim assignments were consistently handed out to White workers, according to M.B.’s case.

On top of that, M.B. also had proof that, although the staff at the Flowery Branch plant was 25-40% Black, “only a handful of Black employees… were promoted to management, even though Black employees regularly applied for such promotions.” Additionally, on at least three of the five occasions, the White worker the company selected instead of M.B. did not have a college degree, while M.B. possessed a Bachelor’s Degree.

All of that, when put together, was enough to establish that M.B. had a triable case of discrimination.

Race discrimination in the workplace can be severely damaging for workers, but can also be harmful to employers, as well. The knowledgeable Atlanta race discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert diligently strive to utilize our decades of experience to help our clients – both workers and employers – resolve their race discrimination issues. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation today.

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