Standard of Proof Required in a Failure to Promote Case

01/11/2015 // Dallas, Texas, United States // Attorney Keith Clouse // Keith Clouse // (press release)

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a plaintiff may recover compensation if the plaintiff proves his employer promoted another employee instead of the plaintiff because of the plaintiff’s race, national origin, sex, religion, or color. If the plaintiff does not have direct evidence of discrimination, the plaintiff may prove discrimination under the burden-shifting framework established for cases based on circumstantial evidence. In doing so, the plaintiff must rebut the employer’s proffered reason for the failure to promote and show that the employer’s stated reason is a pretext for discrimination.

Usually, an employer’s proffered reason for the failure to promote is that the employer promoted a candidate who was more qualified than the plaintiff. Because the law grants wide latitude to an employer to hire the candidate that the employer believes will be best-suited for the particular position, the standard a plaintiff must prove in these cases is significant: A plaintiff may establish pretext only by demonstrating that he was “clearly better qualified” than the other candidate such that the qualifications are so widely disparate that no reasonable employer would have made the same decision. Because an employer may discount years of service and general experience in favor of specific qualifications, proving a failure to promote case can be challenging for a plaintiff.

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

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