395 F.Supp. 698 (N.D.Tex. 1975), CA 3-74-767, Satterwhite v. City of Greenville, Texas

Docket Nº:CA 3-74-767-C.
Citation:395 F.Supp. 698
Party Name:Minda SATTERWHITE, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated v. CITY OF GREENVILLE, TEXAS.
Case Date:June 18, 1975
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Northern District of Texas

Page 698

395 F.Supp. 698 (N.D.Tex. 1975)

Minda SATTERWHITE, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated

v.

CITY OF GREENVILLE, TEXAS.

No. CA 3-74-767-C.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division.

June 18, 1975

Page 699

Larry R. Daves, Tyler, Tex., for plaintiff.

John Andrew Martin, Carrington, Coleman, Sloman, Johnson & Blumenthal, Dallas, Tex., for defendant.

OPINION

WILLIAM M. TAYLOR, Jr., Chief Judge.

This case presents the perplexing issue of whether a municipal employer who refuses to hire a female applicant as its airport manager to avoid violating a provision of its city charter relating to conflict of interests has committed sexual discrimination proscribed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. In the context of the facts of this case, this issue must be answered in the negative.

I. Facts

In October 1972, Minda Satterwhite, plaintiff herein, applied to the City of Greenville, Texas, defendant herein, for hire as the defendant's municipal airport manager. Both prior and subsequent to this application, the plaintiff's husband was a prime user 1 of this airport facility. During the plaintiff's interview, the defendant's Community Developments Manager confronted Ms. Satterwhite with the potential conflict of interest posed by a wife supervising the operation of a municipal facility of which her husband was both a prime user and tenant. The day following this interview, the Community Developments Manager informed Ms. Satterwhite that her application had been rejected because of her conflict of interest 2 and a male applicant had been retained in the airport manager position.

Contrary to the plaintiff's allegations, evidence adduced during the trial of this cause established this male-hiree to be at least as well qualified for the contested position as was Ms. Satterwhite.

On October 30, 1972, the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against

Page 700

the defendant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.). The E.E.O.C. entered a determination concluding that there was not reasonable cause to believe that Title VII had been violated in the manner alleged by the plaintiff. Ms. Satterwhite was issued a Notice of Right to Sue, whereupon she instituted the instant lawsuit alleging sex discrimination. The plaintiff sought to prosecute this action on behalf of both herself individually and a class of present and prospective female employees of the City of Greenville. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2).

II. The Individual Claim

The Supreme Court clarified the proper order and allocation of proof governing the disposition of a Title VII action challenging employment discrimination in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).

According to McDonnell Douglas, it is incumbent upon a Title VII complainant to carry the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. The Supreme Court prescribed four elements which are necessary to present a prima facie case. The plaintiff must show (I) that she belongs to a minority; (II) that she applied and was qualified for the job of airport manager for which the defendant was seeking applicants; (III) that, despite her qualifications, she was rejected, and (IV) that, after her rejection, the position remained open and the defendant-employer continued to seek applicants from persons of the plaintiff's qualifications.

When confronted with such a prima facie case of employment discrimination, the burden then shifts to the employer to establish some legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the refusal to hire. Such a reasonable basis for rejection suffices to rebut the prima facie case.

When her prima facie case is rebutted, the plaintiff must be accorded an opportunity to demonstrate by competent evidence that the presumptively valid reasons for her rejection were in fact a 'pretext' or a 'coverup' for a racially discriminatory decision.

Applying the McDonnell Douglas standard to the facts of the instant...

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