On April 1, 1998 the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq., in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana against the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive and ...
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On April 1, 1998 the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq., in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana against the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive and monetary relief alleging that the defendant had violated Title VII by discriminating against janitorial employees on the basis of their sex, female.
In June 1992, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board decided to reduce the hours for Janitor 1 employees from 6 to 4 hours and a reduce their benefits. The employees who were classified under the Janitor 1 designation were mostly female. The other janitorial designations 2 and 3, which were filled by mostly males, were left unaffected. In June 1993, 46 female employees, including the plaintiffs here, filed suit against East Baton Rouge Parish. The lawsuit alleged that the reduction in hours and benefits had a disparate impact on female employees.
Shortly after the filing of the state court lawsuit, the D.O.J. began an investigation into the hiring and promotion procedures of the School Board in regards to placement of women into the positions of Janitor II and III. In June 1997, Judge John V. Parker entered into record a consent decree which stipulated: (1) compensatory relief by offering certain individuals in rank-order according to their remedial seniority date beginning with the eligible individual with the earliest seniority date; (2) the School Board shall make employer pension fund contributions retroactive to the claimant's remedial seniority date - subject to the claimant making her retroactive employee contribution; (3) interest that has accrued on the pension fund shall be paid on a pro-rata basis; (4) individual monetary relief awards shall be administered on a case by case basis. In 1996 the school board began evaluating all positions within the district with the intent to eliminate the inefficient use of resources.
Following this evaluation it was decided that the three tiered janitorial placement system would be replaced with two categories, janitor and lead janitor both of which would be full time employees. It was also determined that janitors were overpaid which resulted in a new pay scale and decreased hourly pay for the janitors. Testing procedures were implemented in deciding the new designations for the Janitor I positions involving a "practical" test involving the use of maintenance equipment and a reading test. The reading test could be passed with an eighth grade reading level, a standard deemed necessary for safety concerns involving the use of chemicals and equipment. In addition, the consent decree made specific mention that part-time Janitor I employees be allowed to apply for the new janitor position if they met the qualifications. Of the plaintiffs, only one was able to pass the reading part of the application process, though all passed the practical part.
On November 18, 1998 the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit alleging that the School Board discriminated against them on the basis of their sex, and retaliated against them for their participation in the state lawsuit. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that: (1) the establishment of the conditions, qualifications, and job description for the new full-time janitor position, including the requirement that the applicant pass both the practical and reading tests before becoming eligible for employment in the position, was done by the defendants " with the intent to retaliate against female employees who had filed a lawsuit with the school board [or] alternatively, the conditions that [the defendants] placed on this new position had a discriminatory impact on the plaintiffs."
On September 15, 2000 the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment as to the plaintiff's claims under Title VII and under their claim of qualified immunity. On June 5, 2001 the court granted the defendant's motions and held that the plaintiff's allegations failed to satisfy the requisite elements of a Title VII retaliation claim. Specifically, the court held that the actions complained of by the plaintiffs were not "adverse employment actions." The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision.James Floyd - 11/15/2007