Posted On: December 21, 2008

Gender Discrimination Lawsuit: Jury Awards Former Police Chief $235,000

A federal jury in Mobile awarded the city of Prichard Alabama's former acting police chief Yvonne Baldwin $235,000 after determining the city offered her a discriminatory contract based on her gender and then retaliated against her for filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in 2006. Sexual Harassment and Gender Harassment attorney Peter LaSorsa discusses discrimination on his website on through his videos.

The six-man, one-woman jury found that the city of Prichard did discriminate against Baldwin on the basis of her gender when it offered her only a two-year contract to be the city's police chief. The male police officer who took the job after Baldwin rejected her two-year contract was given a five-year contract to do the same job. The male police officer also got another benefit in his contract that wasn't offered to Baldwin: six months' severance pay if terminated.

This case involves a legal term called Disparate Treatment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of their membership in a protected class. Protected classes are classes based on gender, race, color, national origin, or religion. The central issue is whether the employer's actions were motivated by discriminatory intent, which may be proved by either direct or circumstantial evidence.

Direct evidence is established when the plaintiff attempts to show that membership in the protected class was a motivating factor in the adverse job action. The Plaintiff may offer direct evidence, such as the defendant admitted that it was motivated by discriminatory intent or that it acted pursuant to a policy that is discriminatory on its face. It is no surprise that direct evidence of discrimination is not easy to prove given that most employers do not openly admit that they discriminate

A plaintiff may also proceed utilizing circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence consists of suspicious timing, and ambiguous statements which can be made either orally or written, directed at other employees in the protected group which an inference of discriminatory intent might be drawn.