Employer May Determine Relevant Qualifications for Position


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit credited the employer’s explanation for the selection of a Caucasian candidate as more qualified in denying the plaintiff’s failure to promote claim.

In Nelson v. USAble Mutual Ins. Co., an African-American employee asserted a discrimination claim for failure to promote, claiming that she was more qualified for the position than the selected Caucasian for an operations manager position because she had 11 years of “transactional” retail experience compared with the Caucasian candidate’s 3 years of “full customer service” retail experience. The Eighth Circuit, however, found that the employee could not demonstrate that the employer’s explanation that the Caucasian employee’s experience was “extremely” similar to what he envisioned for the new position, and was therefore more directly relevant. Because the employee was only “similarly qualified,” there was no inference of race discrimination.