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Deputy sheriff’s reverse discrimination case reinstated

Deputy sheriff’s reverse discrimination case reinstated

A federal appeals court has reinstated a “reverse discrimination” lawsuit filed by a white Florida deputy who complained two black applicants were promoted over him.

 Frank Voudy failed to be promoted to sergeant from deputy sheriff in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Broward County sheriff’s office, although he has been eligible for promotion since 2002, according to Thursday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Frank Voudy v. Sheriff of Broward County, Florida.

Two black officers who scored lower than he did on the sergeant’s exam were promoted, though, according to the ruling.

Mr. Voudy filed suit in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale charging discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state law. The District Court granted the sheriff summary judgment dismissing the case, ruling Mr. Voudy had failed to establish a prima facile case of discrimination.

But a three-judge appeals court panel unanimously reversed that ruling.

Mr. Voudy “has provided no direct evidence of discrimination,” said the ruling. However, it said, in being rejected for a promotion in favor of the two other officers, although he was “at least minimally qualified for the position he sought,” Mr. Voudy has established a prima facie case of discrimination.

“Although the Sherriff’s burden was ‘exceedingly light,’” said the ruling, in quoting an earlier case, “we conclude that he failed to adequately articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” for promoting the two other officers over Mr. Voudy.

No sheriff’s department employee “has identified any reason” why the other two men were promoted and he was not, and the officer who oversaw the promotion process “was unable to recall anything about why Voudy was not promoted,” the ruling said.

“Without any evidence indicating how the identified criteria were weighed or considered in Voudy’s case, we can do no more than speculate” as to why the other two officers were promoted while Mr. Voudy was not, said the panel, in reversing the lower court ruling and remanding the case to the lower court.

Earlier this month, the 11th Circuit refused to reconsider a ruling in which it held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.



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