Ohio: Discharged Black Instructor Failed to Show Race or Sex Bias

By SHRM Online staff Jan 5, 2015

An Ohio federal court granted summary judgment to a college that discharged a black woman instructor because she did not provide evidence of race or sex discrimination.

Alicia Revely worked as a tenure-track marketing and management instructor at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College until the college failed to renew her teaching contract in the fifth year of a six-year tenure process. Cincinnati State decided not to grant Revely tenure because of her deficient performance as a faculty member, and, therefore, did not renew her teaching contract. Revely filed a claim against the college for race and sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Cincinnati State filed a motion for summary judgment because Revely failed to provide any direct evidence of discrimination and the college hired another black woman to replace her.

Revely claimed that a reasonable juror could find that Cincinnati State hired her replacement to disguise its illegal discrimination against her based on the length of time it took to complete the hiring process. The trial court disagreed, stating that Revely provided no evidence that the length of time it took to hire a replacement was unusual or otherwise indicative of the college’s intent to conceal any discrimination against Revely.

Additionally, the court noted that Revely did not provide any evidence of similarly-situated white or male tenure-track instructors who were treated more favorably by having their contracts renewed despite similar performance deficiencies. As a result, Revely failed to make a prima facie case of race or gender discrimination, the court explained.

Revely introduced statistical data she claimed showed a disproportionate race and gender population at the college among tenured and tenure-track instructors, but the court found the data failed to show any evidence of gender or racial disparity indicating discrimination.

Revely further claimed her teaching contract was not renewed because she was a lesbian and did not conform to a stereotypical female gender role. The trial court found that she did not introduce any evidence to support this claim. For example, she never said that anyone at Cincinnati State ever commented unfavorably on her style of dress or believed her appearance and demeanor were too masculine. The court also agreed with the college’s argument that Revely was claiming she was dismissed due to her sexual orientation, which is a personal characteristic that Title VII does not protect from employment discrimination. Therefore, it granted the college’s motion for summary judgment.

Revely v. Cincinnati State Technical & Cmty. Coll., S.D. Ohio, No. 1:13-CV-353 (Nov. 4, 2014).

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