In November of 2007, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky decided a case that involved racial discrimination. In Smith v. Cabinet for health and Family Services, 2007 WL 3226573 (Ky.App.), the appellate court upheld the lower trial court’s rulings of summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Id. In Smith, Ms. Smith worked for the defendant in the Central Intake. She had some educational background but did not have a Master’s Degree. Id. She began working for the defendant in June of 2000. Over the course of many years she applied for different jobs but never got them. In December of 2002 she applied for one job, but that job really wanted someone that had a Masters’ Degree and so Ms. Smith did not get the job but a Caucasian female with a Master’s Degree did get it. Id. Also in December of 2002 Ms. Smith applied for another job that an Arab-American woman received over her. Id. In June of 2003, Ms. Smith applied for another job that again a Caucasian female with a Master’s Degree received over her. Id. So, finally in January of 2005, Ms. Smith filed her complaint in Fayette Circuit Court alleging intentional and illegal racial discrimination. She sued under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Id. “An employee claiming racial discrimination in hiring and promotion must demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, the following: i) that he belongs to a racial minority; ii) that he applied and was qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants; iii) that, despite his qualifications, he was rejected; and iv) that, after his rejection, the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants from persons of complainant’s qualifications. Id. The employee must show that the rejection is not attributable to “the two most common legitimate reasons on which an employer might rely to reject a job applicant: an absolute or relative lack of qualifications or the absence of a vacancy in the job sought.” Id.
An employer does not illegally discriminate when it chooses, for nonracial reasons, one equally qualified candidate over another, much less when one lacks the necessary announced qualifications as did Ms. Smith. Id. So long as its reasons are not discriminatory, and employer is free to choose among qualified candidates. Id.
A plaintiff has two means of proving intentional racial discrimination, either by direct evidence of discrimination or by circumstantial evidence from which discrimination can be inferred. (cites omitted). Id. Once a plaintiff has done this, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its decisions. Id. Then, the minority employee is given an opportunity to show that the employer’s nondiscriminatory reason is only a pretext. Id.
The Court stated that Ms. Smith did not put forth any ‘direct’ evidence. She tries to argue that she put forth enough circumstantial or indirect evidence of discrimination to create a question of mixed motives as to the defendant’s refusal to promote or laterally transfer her. Id. But, the Court found that she did not even do that. The Court stated that “an obvious disparity in qualifications which favored Ms. Smith would be evidence that the nondiscriminatory reasons were pretextual. Id. But, Ms. Smith could not show that such disparity existed.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville race discrimination matter, please call and speak to a Louisville race discrimination lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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