• Tenth Circuit Revives Black Applicant's Bias Lawsuit Against Safeway
  • December 27, 2017 | Authors: Eve B. Masinter; Jerry L. Stovall; Rachael M. Coe; Jacob E. Roussel; Murphy J. Foster; John T. Andrishok; Leo C. Hamilton; E. Fredrick Preis; Rachael Jeanfreau; Melissa M. Shirley; Steven B. Loeb; Sunny Mayhall West
  • Law Firms: Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. - Baton Rouge Office; Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. - Baton Rouge Office
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that Safeway may have discriminated against Abiodun Sotunde, a black supervisor at one of its distribution centers. Sotunde had earned his bachelor's and MBA degrees while working for Safeway. When the company announced they would be hiring for manager positions, one of the requirements was a relevant degree. According to the court, the director of distribution had the authority to waive the education requirement. However, the director hired two white applicants who lacked degrees but, according to the distributor, possessed superior relevant work experience. Sotunde had superior educational qualifications and did not have any outstanding flags in his performance as a supervisor. The director said he was concerned about Sotunde's absences and interpersonal skills despite evidence that one of the white applicants had similar issues, the court said. The court's decision outlines the pretext for a discrimination claim because the candidate that was selected had similar flags in his professional past as the director claimed Sotunde had. According to the court, the director's explanation and potentially biased conduct meant his decision to reject Sotunde's application for promotion could be considered discriminatory.