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Race Discrimination: Is it Failure to Promote or Unequal Pay?


There are many ways for employers to discriminate against employees. These "adverse employment actions" can include termination, discipline, demotion, failure to promote, unequal pay, etc. Cases where the exact adverse action is not clear, are not very common. In a recent case originating in Trussville, Alabama, the court was not clear whether the employee was actually denied a promotion, or whether she received the position, but was not paid the same as other employees. Either way, the court found that she had a case worth taking to the jury.

Clayton v. Golden Bird Acquisition LLC

The plaintiff in this case, Sylvia L. Clayton, alleged that the Krystal restaurant she worked for denied her numerous requests to be promoted to Master Cashier because she is black. At first glance, this case seems pretty simple and straightforward. Over the course of nearly four years, Ms. Clayton expressed her desire to be promoted to at least three different managers. They all told her they were "working on it."

At some point, Ms. Clayton received a Master Cashier shirt with her name on it. However, she was never officially given the title or the accompanying pay raise for the promotion. Furthermore, there were two other employees (both white) who were offered the position of Master Cashier, which suggests Ms. Clayton was not actually placed in the position. What makes this case interesting is the fact that, even if Ms. Clayton was actually promoted, she would still have a claim for discrimination as she was not paid the same as the other Master Cashiers.

The employer failed to establish a legitimate reason for its actions

As confusing as the case may seem, the court found the analysis pretty simple. The court found that Ms. Clayton's lack of affirmative evidence of discrimination did not doom her case. Instead, the jury could find that the employer's false explanation infers discrimination in this case. The company was very inconsistent in its claims and its reasons were implausible. The Court also found that the company had severe credibility problems.

What to do if you believe your employer is discriminating against you

If you think you are being discriminated against at work, you need to act quickly in order to preserve your rights and claims for discrimination under federal anti-discrimination statutes. Deadlines for filing claims or lawsuits depend on the type of discrimination and the laws on which your claims are based. Many types of discrimination cases require filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In those cases, an EEOC charge must be filed within 180 days. So, contacting an employment law attorney as soon as possible, is crucial.

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Michel | King , either online calling us at (205) 265-1880.

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