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Cases of discrimination based on circumstantial evidence are subject to the McDonnell Douglas v. Green burden-shifting analysis. To survive summary judgment under McDonnell Douglas, the plaintiff must first present evidence of a prima facie case of discrimination. If the plaintiff presents a prima facie case, discrimination is presumed, and the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the underlying employment action. If the employer is able to state a legitimate rationale for its employment action, the inference of discrimination disappears and the plaintiff must present evidence that the employer's proffered reason was mere pretext for racial discrimination.
Cedric Davis and Rufus Johnson appeal from the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendants, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and its Chief of Police Juan Rodriguez, in a suit alleging race discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment under Title VII of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a), 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The district court held that Davis and Johnson failed to raise a fact question on their claims regarding their nonselection for promotions to lieutenant, and that their remaining claims were barred by res judicata.
Were Davis and Johnson able to present a genuine issue of material fact about whether their nonselection for lieutenant promotions was based on either race discrimination or retaliation?
The court found that Davis and Johnson failed to show the lack of promotions were based on either race discrimination or retaliation. The claims that were precluded were closely connected in time and space with the claims dismissed in the prior suit. Even if they established a prima facie case, they failed to raise a fact question about whether the defendants' proffered nondiscriminatory reason, their lack of qualifications, was pretextual.