Black v. Department of Correction
Even if a superior informs a Caucasian candidate that he was not promoted because of department quotas, that may be insufficient to establish discriminatory failure to promote, on the basis of gender and race. In 1994, the defendant Department of Correction hired the plaintiff, Mark Black, a veteran of the Gulf War who had been honorably discharged, as a corrections officer. In 2004, Black received a score of 85, which was among the top five written scores, on a promotional exam for lieutenant. Although work evaluations were "excellent" and a captain provided a good recommendation, the department did not promote Black to lieutenant. Black applied for the lieutenant job several times and was not chosen. Allegedly, a deputy warden informed Black, who is Caucasian, that he was not promoted because of department quotas. Black filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which released its jurisdiction. Black sued the Department of Correction, alleging that he was denied the promotion to lieutenant because of gender and race discrimination. Black established a prima facie case for failure to promote based on gender or race. The department articulated a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason not to promote, because other applicants were equally or more qualified. "The fact that the department filled thirty-five out of seventy-six, or forty-six percent, of the available correctional lieutenant positions with white males," wrote the court, "reveals that the plaintiff's race and gender, either separately or combined, were not a barrier to promotion." Because nearly 50 percent of the promoted candidates were Caucasian males, added the court, that militates against a finding that discriminatory animus against Caucasian males influenced the decision not to promote. The plaintiff failed to establish his credentials were so superior that promotions of female and minority candidates were not reasonable. Although Black received excellent scores in certain areas, his interview skills were rated only average. Black claimed that he deserved a higher interview score, because he was knowledgeable and answered questions articulately. There was no evidence that interview scores were manipulated to favor female and minority applicants. The court granted the department's motion for summary judgment.