How does a person show racial discrimination? Two ways come to mind: 1) a person must show he was fired and replaced by a person of a different race, or 2) show he was disciplined differently than persons of a different race. There is more to it than those two methods, but one of those two methods is essential. In Ross v. Judson ISD, No. 18-CA-269 (W.D.Tex. 12/19/2019), the plaintiff, African-American, argued that yes, she was replaced by an African-American initially, then by another African-American and then finally by a white person. As we might expect, the court did not accept her argument. Ms. Ross was fired after 18 years with Judson ISD. Anytime a person is fired after 18 years, we should get a little suspicious.
Ms. Ross also claimed that when the prior Superintendent, Dr. Mackey, left, things changed. Dr. Mackey, said the plaintiff, was seen as favoring African-Americans like Ms. Ross. When he left, certain officials at Judson started to take reprisals against high-ranking black employees, like Ms. Ross. She insisted this was the true reason for her non-renewal. One witness supported Ms. Ross’ claims. The witness said initially, certain officials planned to replace Ms. Ross with a white or Hispanic principal. But, to make things look better, they appointed an African-American principal on an interim basis.
But, the court noted that the third replacement, a white principal, was not made until three years after Ms. Ross’ termination. That time period was just too far for the court. The court noted that there is no caselaw or authority for the proposition that choosing a replacement to avoid the appearance of discrimination is itself discrimination. And that makes some sense. If an employer replaces a minority with a person of the same race to avoid the appearance of discrimination, that will indeed avoid the appearance of discrimination.
The plaintiff also claimed she was fired because she voiced support for naming a school after Dr. Mackey, an African-American. But, said the court, she could point to no proof that she did in fact express support for naming a school after Dr. Mackey at a board meeting. And, noted the court, there was no evidence to indicate the School District took reprisal against her for supporting renaming a school after Mackey. The plaintiff asserted various other theories of discrimination. But, as I have mentioned on this blog before, it is better to rely on just one or two good causes of action than to assert several. The several will often bring down the one or two good causes of action.