Dunlap V. Tennessee Valley Authority

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Dunlap v. Tennessee Valley Authority
Joyce Harrison
Business Employment Law
May 11, 2011

1. What were the legal issues in this case? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was to determine if the plaintiff, David Dunlap Dunlap, had met the burden of proof that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by intentionally discriminating against him under both disparate impact and disparate treatment analyses and whether the TVA appeal to the District Court erred in each of these analyses could be legally supported to reverse their decision FindLaw, 2011). David Dunlap brought suit under Title VII, alleging racial discrimination by the TVA. The district court found 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 Appeals 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, 2010).

2. Explain why the plaintiff’s disparate (adverse) impact claim failed.

The disparate impact theory requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that an apparently neutral employment practice affects one group more harshly than another and that the practice is not justified by business necessity. Under this theory, proof of discriminatory intent is not required. Although the district court concluded that TVA’s interview process had been manipulated to exclude African-American candidates in general, the court of appeals disagreed, citing the lack of statistical proof demonstrating that a protected group was adversely affected thus establishing a “prima facie” case. Mr. Dunlap couldn’t prove his claim by only challenging the process used in his own interview, thus...
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