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Summary Judgment Obtained in Failure-to-Promote Case; 5th Circuit Affirms

A 20 year employee of our client Lincoln Parish Detention Center (LPDC) was named interim superintendent of the facility for three years. After the facility was privatized a male employee of the private company was named warden of the facility and the interim superintendent was offered a lesser position at lower pay. She declined the offer, quit and sued for sex discrimination. We obtained summary judgment in federal court in Louisiana but the plaintiff appealed, attaching both the decision to privatize the facility and the failure to give her the top job there.

The 5th Circuit affirmed. With regard to the decision to privatize, it concluded the decision was well within the purview of the agency’s business judgment and the plaintiff’s argument that it was a bad decision did not evidence pretext. The court also affirmed that no evidence supported the contention that the plaintiff did not get the warden job because she was female. The court held her prior positive reviews and experience did not undercut the reasons given by the agency decision; i.e., the desire of the private company to have a warden with whom it was familiar and that warden’s experience in other prison settings.

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