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8th Circuit Rules in Favor of White Plaintiff on Reverse Race Bias

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 07, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Racial discrimination in the workforce is a common claim in employment lawsuits, but last week the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals looked at a case involving reverse race bias.

The appeals court reinstated a jury verdict on the race-bias issue, ruling in favor of a Caucasian school district administrator who alleged that he was the victim of racial discrimination by a majority-black school board in Arkansas.

In 2007, the Lee County school board in Arkansas changed from having a majority of Caucasian board members to having a majority of African-American board members. The resulting board, constituting four African-American members and three Caucasian members, reassigned the only two Caucasian administrators in the district's workforce.

The two administrators, Superintendent Wayne Thompson and finance coordinator Sharon Sanders, were demoted. Thompson was reassigned to the position of assistant superintendent for maintenance and transportation and Sanders was reassigned to food services assistant.

Sanders sued for constructive discharge and race discrimination.

Initially, the trial court found in favor of Sanders, awarding her $10,000 for racial discrimination, $61,000 in wages and benefits and $8,000 in punitive damages.

The defendants moved to set aside the verdict and the trial court granted their motion on two of the verdicts, but left the racial discrimination verdict.

Last week, however, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the constructive discharge claims, stating that a reasonable jury could conclude that a change in the position from finance coordinator to food services assistant was a demeaning reassignment.

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