Central City Makes a Promotion-Part A

By Palmer, Steven C.; Weyant, Lee et al. | Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, July-August 2008 | Go to article overview
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Central City Makes a Promotion-Part A

Palmer, Steven C., Weyant, Lee, McNary, George W., Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies


The primary subject matter of this case concerns the alleged discriminatory promotion practices within a governmental agency. Secondary issues examined include the development and application of affirmative action plans affecting several protected classes. The case has a difficulty level of four, appropriate for senior level. The case is designed to be taught in three class hours and is expected to require three hours of outside preparation by students.


Are Affirmative Action Plans meaningful guidelines to employment decisions? Or, are these plans merely an exercise in satisfying legislative directives? The Central City Police Department faces these questions concerning their recent promotion list to sergeant. Specifically, what is the department's justification for not promoting the individual with the second highest score on the promotion test? How can an individual with excellent performance evaluations and a clean discipline record not be promoted? Could it be the individual is a woman?

This case explores the integration of minorities into a predominately white male work environment. For example, the organization as a whole (i.e., city government) has developed affirmative action plans for over a decade. Only in the last several years has the branch level (i.e., police department) developed separate goals addressing their specific operation. Branch managerial decisions over the years did not eliminate discriminatory practices. In fact, branch management faced separate lawsuits from African American and then Hispanic employees over employment discrimination issues based on race. Now, branch management faces the integration of a new protected class within the workforce. Will they follow their previous managerial behavior?



This case can be used in a variety of undergraduate classes. The authors believe that it fits into any of the following courses: Principles of Management, Human Resource Management, Business Ethics, Business Law and Employment Law. The analysis of the case can be from a managerial or a legal perspective. The case has also been successfully used in an Organizational Communication class.

Depending on the class the teaching objectives will vary. Therefore, we are setting forth the objectives from a managerial and a legal viewpoint.

The teaching objectives if the case is being used in a Management class are:

1. Students should be able to summarize the purposes of an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP).

2. Students should be able to conduct a training needs analysis.

3. Students should understand the necessity of establishing thorough policies and procedures in an organization.

If this case is being used in a law class, the teaching objectives are:

1. Students should be able to identify the elements of a prima facie case of employment discrimination.

2. Students should be able to understand and apply the 4/5ths or 80% rule in evaluating a fact situation.

3. Students should be able to review a fact situation and recognize red flags regarding employment discrimination issues.


1. What is the purpose of an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)? Is this a regulatory document prescribed to address past actions? Is this a document that guides recruitment and promotion opportunities? Only senior management can develop the answer to these questions. Organizational communication of their "true" answer will be seen by employees not through bulletin board, or policy statements, but through managerial actions. That is, what role will social learning theory play in the implementation of a company's AAP?

Organizations operate through the application of some level of human capital performing the jobs of the company. Each job requires a specific level of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for successful performance.

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Central City Makes a Promotion-Part A


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