and Roberts' responsibilities and subordinates. He then directed Robb to train Green. He gave John Cella, who is white, the other duties formerly held by Robb. Further, Scott ensured that a white person would fill a third AACO management position when he appointed Kolker to a contract position that included responsibility for some of the duties of a vacated senior staff position called Director of Policy and Planning. Rather than open the vacated position to applicants, including African-Americans, Scott hired Kolker in a process that required no application process.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Robb and Roberts, it is clear that Scott successfully eliminated all of the significant responsibilities from these unit managers. Not only did he strip Robb and Roberts of substantive job duties, he humiliated them in front of their peers by treating them as if they were rank-and-file AACO staff members. There is no question that there was substantial evidence from which the jury could conclude that Scott stripped Robb and Roberts of significant job responsibilities and other indicia of their senior staff status because of their race.
Federal courts have held such conduct to be an adverse employment action. Crady v. Liberty Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Ind., 993 F.2d 132, 136 (7th Cir. 1993) ("A materially adverse employment action may be indicated by . . . significantly diminished material responsibilities, or other indices that might be unique to a particular situation."); Parks v. University of Chicago Hosps. and Clinics, 896 F. Supp. 775, 781 (N.D. Ill. 1995); cf. Darnell v. Campbell County Fiscal Ct., 731 F. Supp. 1309, 1313 (E.D. Ky. 1990), aff'd, 924 F.2d 1057 (6th Cir. 1991) (stating that "a transfer involving loss of prestige or an objectively demeaning change of working conditions -- such as removal from a private office" can qualify as an adverse employment action). The court concludes that Robb and Roberts have satisfied the third element of a prima facie claim of employment discrimination.
As to the fourth element, there was ample evidence from which the jury could conclude and infer that white employees who were similarly situated to Robb and Roberts were treated more favorably by Scott. Scott never removed subordinates or responsibilities from white AACO unit managers. Instead, he gave to Green and Cella the authority and subordinates that he took from Robb and Roberts.
Because the court concludes that Robb and Roberts satisfied the third and fourth elements of a prima facie claim of employment discrimination, the court will deny Scott's motion on this ground.
C. Scott's Proffered Non-Discriminatory Reasons as Pretext
Scott argues that Robb, Roberts, Young, and Burks did not satisfy their burden of establishing that Scott's proffered nondiscriminatory reasons were a pretext for intentional race discrimination. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. J. as a Matter of Law at 14-16.)
Once a plaintiff has made out a prima facie case of employment discrimination, the defendant must come forward with some evidence that it took its actions for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973). If the defendant offers such evidence, the burden returns to the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence "both that [the employer's] reasons was false, and that discrimination was the real reason" for the adverse employment action. St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 515, 125 L. Ed. 2d 407, 113 S. Ct. 2742 (1993); Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 255-56, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207, 101 S. Ct. 1089 (1981). The Third Circuit has held in the analogous summary judgment context that, to defeat an employer's proffered reason for an employment action, the claimant
must demonstrate such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the employer's proffered legitimate reasons . . . that a reasonable fact finder could rationally find them 'unworthy of credence' and hence infer 'that the employer did not act for [the asserted] non-discriminatory reasons.'