02/15/2015 // Dallas, Texas, United States // Attorney Keith Clouse // Keith Clouse // (press release)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to an employer in a race and color discrimination case. Etienne v. Spanish Lake Truck & Casino Plaza, L.L.C., No. 14-30026 (5th Cir. Feb. 2, 2015), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/14/14-30026-CV0.pdf.

When the plaintiff was not promoted to a managerial position, she sued. She submitted an affidavit by a former manager as evidence of race and color discrimination. The affidavit stated that the hiring manager allocated responsibilities according to the color of employees’ skin and that he would not let a dark-skinned black person do certain tasks, such as those performed by a manager.

On appeal, the Court determined that the affidavit showed direct evidence of discrimination–not indirect evidence of discrimination–because the comments made by the hiring manager were: (1) related to the plaintiff’s protected characteristic; (2) proximate in time to the challenged employment decision because they were routinely made; (3) made by an individual with authority over the challenged employment decision; and (4) related to the challenged employment decision. Accordingly, summary judgment was only proper if the employer showed that it would have made the same decision absent the discrimination. Because the employer failed to meet that standard, the Court reversed the summary judgment.

This article is presented by the Dallas employment attorneys at Clouse Dunn LLP. To speak to an employment lawyer, send an email to [email protected] or call (214) 239-2705.

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