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Promoting Case Analysis

Although the court found that Grayson was not discriminated against, the court expressed significant suspicion of the means of promotion used by the City of Chicago that could be useful to plaintiffs in other cases.

In addition to the quotation above that it might be suspicious if an employer based promotions on title, even though two positions were otherwise identical, the court made other statements questioning the City’s promotion practices.

The court noted that there is one suggestion in the City’s brief that suggests the city does use such titles for promotion purposes.


Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

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At one point, the City argued with respect to the Foreman of Carpenters position, that, unlike Grayson, the successful candidate had several years of experience serving in the very position to which he was promoted.

However, the Foreman of Carpenters position was the one that the city also argued was identical in all respects to the Subforeman’s position that Grayson held.

Addressing the City’s inconsistency, the court said, “The city cannot have it both ways. … the fact that [the successful candidate] was Acting Foreman of Carpenters had no significance when Grayson had experience in an equivalent position.”

Earlier, the court called the promotion system “imperfect,” even though Grayson could not show that the reasons for rejecting him were a pretext for discrimination.

The court clearly recognizes, and intended to signal that it understands, how a system entailing different titles (some more prestigious sounding than others) for performing the same work, and lengthy interim appointments preceding promotions is a system that is rife with opportunity for discrimination.

– David Ziemer

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David Ziemer can be reached by email.

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