Best Ohio Race Discrimination Attorney Answer: What should I do if I keep getting passed over for White employees? Can my supervisor block my promotion because he thinks I’m not a “good fit”? Is it race discrimination if I’m told I’m not a good fit for a position but I’m the only African American employee? Should I complain if I think I’m being discriminated against because of my race?
Although our employment law attorneys often blog about race discrimination cases where employers or supervisors make comments based on race that seem like something out of a different era, there are many more examples of race discrimination or harassment where the savvy, secretive racist makes comments that seem to be based on performance or personality, but lurking underneath is an animus toward the employee that is absolutely race based.
We’ll get into one such case here in a minute, but first, let’s talk about Cinderella. In the more modern version of the classic fairytale Cinderella was an underappreciated, diamond in the rough housekeeper. Held down to a lower status than what she deserved by an evil stepmother who forced poor Cinderella to clean the ashes and cinders from the fireplaces in Cinderella’s deceased father’s mansion estate.
But the story doesn’t end badly, Cinderella’s kindness and beauty shine through during an encounter with the local prince who is on the market for a new wife. As the magical evening fades away, and Cinderella is forced to return to her old life, the prince is left with only a glass slipper as a token of the romantic date. The prince vows to search the entire kingdom for the fair maiden from his dream date by trying the glass slipper. When the shoe slides on to Cinderella’s foot she is able to leave her housekeeper role and live happily ever after as a true princess. This fairytale is all about finding a good fit.
Mr. Frederick Abrams can probably sympathize with this children’s story. Abrams joined Connecticut’s department of public safety in 1986 and was promoted to detective in 1990. Abrams stayed in the detective role for over ten years working on major crimes with the exclusion of homicides with approximately 30 other detectives. Starting in 1998, Abrams aspired to be placed in an elite group of only five to six detectives responsible for investigating homicides. These detectives were known throughout the department to be the cream of the crop and were collectively referred to as, “the Van.” From 2004 through 2009 the department promoted seven different individuals over Abrams to fill empty spots in the Van, all of whom were Caucasian. Although Abrams did not have a college degree, there were other candidates who were promoted and members of the Van who also did not have a degree either. When Abrams inquired as to why he was not selected for the position he was told simply that he was not a “good fit” or that another candidate was a “better fit.” Like Cinderella, Abrams was held to a position that he believed was beneath him, based on his years of experience, knowledge, and skill set.
Abrams objected to being passed over for the position on multiple occasions and was eventually given the chance to fill in for a detective who was absent. During the temporary ride along, Abrams claimed he was treated poorly, ostracized, and was not invited back after. After Abrams filed claims against the department and individual officers responsible for making the promotion decisions, the court dismissed Abrams’ discrimination claims and a jury did not find in Abrams’ favor for his retaliation claims.
On appeal, Abrams’ unsuccessful claims of retaliation as decided by the jury were left undisturbed, but the court remanded the case and allowed Abrams to proceed on his claims of race discrimination. The court held:
While in this case we apply the rationale to the third McDonnell Douglas factor of pretext, the underlying reasoning holds: the phrasing “better fit” or “fitting in” just might have been about race; and when construing the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, those phrases, even when isolated, could be enough to create a reasonable question of fact for a jury. It is enough of an ambiguity to create a reasonable question of fact.
Moreover, the district court erred in relying on Byrnie v. Town of Cromwell, Board of Education in excluding the Fit In Statements. 243 F.3d 93, 103 (2d Cir. 2001) (“[T]he plaintiff’s credentials would have to be so superior to the credentials of the person selected for the job that no reasonable person, in the exercise of impartial judgment, could have chosen the candidate selected over the plaintiff for the job in question.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Abrams’s non-assignment to the Van as well as the Fit In Statements make this a case about more than mere “discrepancy in qualifications” as was the case in Byrnie. The Fit In Statements raise a genuine dispute as to whether the proffered reasons for Abrams’s non-assignment to the Van were pretextual.
Finally it is worth noting that Defendants’ non-discriminatory reasons for not selecting Abrams—particularly their citation to his poor writing reviews and lack of a college education—are questionable: the poor writing reviews, for example, are largely from his time in police training many years earlier, and varied considerably after that; and more than one-third of persons selected for the Van did not have a college education.
Balancing all of these factors, we see this as a very close case, and one, when considered in the light most favorable for the non-moving party—as it must be—that is simply too close to call and should be a question for a jury. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendants on Abrams’s Title VII discrimination claim against DPS…
The lesson here for Ohio employees is that there are laws in place to protect employees from being passed up for promotions based on race. Employees in Ohio are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of race.
This includes behavior like telling the only African American candidate for a position that “you just won’t fit in here” or the five other Caucasian candidates promoted over you all were a “better fit for the job.”
When it comes to searching for the right candidate for a job, employers are allowed to have high standards, and are allowed to comb the countryside for the metaphorical maiden from the perfect dream date. But what they can’t do is give false reasons for a decision not to hire a candidate who seems to have it all, when the real reason is based on race. When it comes to race, racism, and race based decisions in the workplace, even if you think you can’t prove your boss is the evil stepmother you know what they say… “If the shoe fits…”
If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your race, whatever race that may be, then call the right attorney. Race discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744, you will meet with a race discrimination lawyer from The Spitz Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims.
The materials available at the top of this race discrimination page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking: “What should I do …”, “I’m being discriminated against …”, “my boss is discriminating against me because …” or “How do I …”, your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to race discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.