Exploring Racial Discrimination in the Case, Dunlap v. Tennessee Valley Authority

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The case, Dunlap v. Tennessee Valley Authority, explores the issue of suspected racial discrimination associated with disparate treatment and disparate impact caused by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) against a qualified, experienced boilermaker and foreman that is African American. Questions for the court to evaluate regarding this case include: Is this a case of disparate treatment and/or impact and was the plaintiff, David Dunlap, subject to racial discrimination? Finally, did the TVA use personal hiring practices that allowed for racial bias in the interviewing process? What are the legal issues of this case? The Court in the 6th Circuit was to determine if the plaintiff, David Dunlap, had met the burden of proof that his former employer, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), was liable under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by deliberately discriminating against him under both the disparate impact and disparate treatment analyses. David Dunlap, a 52-year old African American male with 25 year boilermaker experience, 15 years of which include foreman experience, brought suit under Title VII, alleging racial discrimination by the TVA after being looked over after interviewing for positions within the TVA. The district court agreed that “Dunlap had been subjected to discrimination under both disparate treatment and disparate impact analyses, concluding that TVA’s subjective hiring processes permitted racial bias against both Dunlap and other black applicants” (Walsh, 2010). The case was heard by the 6th District Court of Appeals and that court “affirmed the disparate treatment claim, reversed the disparate impact claim, and affirmed the district court’s award of damages and fees to Mr. Dunlap” (Walsh, ... ... middle of paper ... ...evidence, the committee should have adhered to the Cumberland plant HR Director’s correspondence that clearly stated that interviewers should not award points to candidates for being a “diversity candidate” and “it is really important up front before your interviews start to have a definition of what ‘Outstanding,’ ‘Well-Qualified,’ and ‘Qualified’ is. This needs to be documented and dated before the interview process starts” (Walsh, 2010). The district court found the interviewers placed candidates in these categories after the interviews and ranking had been completed. In turn, this ensured the number of “Outstanding” applicants equaled the ‘exact’ number of job openings and their candidates of choice were in the top 10 group. As a result, TVA should ensure a legitimate matrix is developed for scoring purposes and not be manipulated for preferred results.

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