Recently, a federal court in Georgia ruled in favor of the employer in a case of racial and gender discrimination involving a white male employee.
In Tyler v. Muscogee County School District, Edward Tyler was a white male bus driver for the Muscogee County School District who ended up being passed over twice for promotions that were instead given to a black female and a white female, respectively. Tyler believed that he was not given a promotion due to his race and gender, and he eventually filed a lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The School District filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that Tyler had not produced enough evidence to show that its decision was based on discrimination.
The court looked at the facts to see if Tyler had established a dispute of fact as to whether his employer discriminated against him. Tyler had been employed as a bus driver for the School District since 1976 and had a flawless driving record, with no reported accidents throughout his 38-year career. Tyler had a bachelors degree in business management from an online institution and had trained other School District drivers prior to the requirement that trainers be certified. In January and October 2012, Tyler applied for two positions that would have promoted him. The School District claimed that it chose other candidates for those positions based purely on their qualifications. To evaluate candidates for promotion, the School District would appoint a panel to interview the candidates, which then completed a written evaluation form that included assigning points in different categories relating to the position’s job duties. Although points were figured into the final decision, they were not the only important factor. The panel claimed to look at the totality of circumstances. Based on that, the panel made a recommendation to the Transportation Director, who might then affirm the panel’s decision and forward it to the School District’s Chief Operations Officer, the Superintendent, and the Human Resources Department. Finally, the recommendation would be sent to the School Board for final approval.
The court noted that for the January 2012 interview, seniority with the School District was not weighed as a factor for the position. The interview panel had consisted of three white males, one black male, and one black female, who asked only job-specific questions. Of the five open positions available, the panel recommended a white male, a white female, two black males, and one black female. The white female chosen for the position sought by Tyler met the qualifications and was a certified driving trainer.
For the October 2012 interview, job-related experience was required and a bachelor degree preferred. The panel, consisting of one white female and two black males, unanimously recommended a black female with previous work experience who had been promoted in January 2012 but did not have a bachelor degree.
The stated reasons for hiring the other individuals over Tyler was that Tyler was not thought to be a strong supervisor of other employees. Tyler could not provide sufficient evidence that the School District’s reason for hiring the other candidates – because they were the best suited for the position — was just a pretext for genuinely discriminatory reasons. The court therefore determined that Tyler had not made a case for discrimination that could survive a summary judgment motion and ruled in favor of the School District.
Parks, Chesin & Walbert represents plaintiffs in employment matters, including employment discrimination, wage and hour, FMLA, and more. With offices in Atlanta and Nashville, we offer a client-centered philosophy and strive to accomplish our clients’ goals as if they are our own. If you live in Georgia or Tennessee and need an experienced Atlanta employment law attorney, contact us today at 404-873-8048.