SW Legal studies in Business

Faculty Member Failed to Make Prima Facie Case for Discrimination Claim
Description

A woman faculty member, who had suffered from cancer, failed to show that she was discriminated against either on the basis of sex or disability. Since she could not show that she was differently treated as a result of sex or disability, she failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination that could proceed.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Sex Discrimination; Disability Discrimination; Prima Facie Case

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Murray was a part-time faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). She was hired with the understanding that if she completed her doctorate within three years, she would receive a full-time appointment. After three years, she stated that she would receive her degree soon and was given a five-year contract. If she did not complete her degree within that time, she would be terminated. During the five years, she was treated for breast cancer. Because of the time cost of dealing with the disease, an additional year was added to her five-year contract. At the end of that time she did not have a degree and was fired. She sued for sex and disability discrimination. The trial court dismissed the complaint. Murray appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. To make a prima facie case of employment discrimination, the plaintiff must show: 1) she was a member of a protected group, 2) she was subjected to an adverse employment action, 3) she was qualified for the position, and 4) similarly situated non-protected employees were treated more favorably. Murray was not qualified for a regular tenure-track faculty position, as that required a doctoral degree, which she failed to obtain. She could not show that she was treated any differently in that regard than other employees of the university. Similarly, her claim for disability discrimination fails because she could not show an adverse job action that resulted from a disability. Because of her illness, she was granted a one-year job extension and still failed to qualify for the position.

Citation

Murray v. Eastern Kentucky University, ---S.W.3d--- (2009 WL 4722760, Ct. App., Ky., 2009)

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