Hiring someone more qualified is a legitimate non-discriminatory reason says 4th Court of Appeals

Fred Beebe v. City of San Antonio Through its agent, City Public Service Board of San Antonio d/b/a CPS Energy, 04-13-00134-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, September 10, 2014)

This is an employment discrimination/retaliation case based on race, color and age. The San Antonio Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s granting of CPS Energy’s summary judgment.

Beebe, and African American male over forty, was an account manager for CPS Energy (“CPS”). At CPS there were two types of account managers, a BAM for mid-market accounts and an ESM for larger commercial accounts. Although BAMs and ESMs had similar duties, the level of responsibility between the two positions varied greatly. ESMs made higher salaries than BAMS due to the greater responsibilities.  When a BAMS position was advertised, a female candidate named Read applied. CPS discovered she had skills and experience better suiting her for the ESM position than BAMs and when an ESM position became available, she was given the job. Beebe sued alleging discrimination and retaliation but the trial court dismissed his claims on summary judgment. Beebe appealed.

The court first held that selecting a more qualified applicant generally constitutes a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for failing to hire/promote.  Directly comparing Beebe and Read demonstrates she is easily more qualified than Beebe. The only evidence and argument Beebe presented to establish a pretext was the fact CPS did not post the ESM position but simply offered it to Read. However, the fact CPS managers feared they would lose Read to another company if they did not offer her the job without posting does not create a fact issue of pretext (i.e. that the offered non-discriminatory reason is not true or not worthy of credence.)  As a result, Beebe failed to meet his burden to establish pretext after CPS established Read was more qualified. The summary judgment was affirmed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Angelini, Justice Alvarez and Justice Chapa.  Memorandum Opinion by Justice Angelini. The attorneys for CPS are listed as Justin Barbour and Christine Elaine Reinhard.  The attorney listed for Beebe is Samuel Beale