Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Central City Makes a Promotion - Part C

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Central City Makes a Promotion - Part C

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case concerns the alleged discriminatory employment practices within a governmental agency. Secondary issue examined is the management policies to insure compliance with equal employment opportunity laws. The case also introduces ethical issues that should be discussed. The case has a difficulty level of four, appropriate for upper level undergraduate and graduate students. The case is designed to be taught in three class hours and is expected to require three hours of outside preparation by students.


What is an equal opportunity employment environment? What constitutes illegal retaliation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act? The Central City Police Department faces these questions concerning their recent employment practices. More specifically, what is the department's justification for not promoting the individual whose name is on top the promotion list at the time the promotion is being made? How can an employee with excellent performance evaluations and a clean discipline record not be promoted? Could it be that the individual was a woman? Was the fact the woman had previously filed a sex discrimination lawsuit a factor in the decision? Does the work environment penalize women or people who stand up for their legal rights? Finally, are supervisors and employees appropriately trained and supervised regarding employment discrimination issues?

This case explores the integration of women into a predominately white male work environment. A woman has previously filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Central City for its discriminatory employment practices regarding women. The city eventually chose to settle the lawsuit rather than go to trial. The settlement is a comprehensive plan to address the issue of sex discrimination. The case picks up several years later when the woman is being considered for promotion. Despite her being the top candidate on the eligibility list at the time, the new police chief decides to pass her over for promotion. There is a new police chief but has the workplace environment changed?

[NOTE: This case is a fictionalized version of a real-life situation. Names and other potentially identifying information have been changed to protect identities. The applicable fact situation is true to the real case.]


"Chief, this is Ben Mason. I need to see you as soon as possible to discuss the latest captain promotion," the voice on the other end of the phone said sternly. Ben Mason was the Chief Deputy City Attorney for Central City. His duties included handling legal affairs for the police department. Mason was talking to the police chief, Sam Adams. As he hung up the phone, Adams grabbed some materials off his desk and headed for Mason's office. Adams knew who this was about-Lt. Mary Jones.


Central City, with a population of 500,000, is the largest city within a several-hour drive. It has a predominately Caucasian population. Almost 90% of the adult population have a high school education and 30% have a college education. The city has a full-time, popularly-elected mayor who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city.

The police chief reports directly to the mayor. Unlike most police chiefs in cities of this size, in Central City the police chief, as well as all other sworn police officers, has civil service protection. The Central City Police Department is organized in a paramilitary structure utilizing a chain of command. The department is headed by the chief of police. Below the chief, highest to lowest rank, are 7 deputy chiefs, 18 captains, 40 lieutenants, 120 sergeants and 554 police officers. Officers at any rank are considered sworn officers. Collectively all officers at the rank of sergeant or above are referred to as command officers; officers with the rank of captain or above are called senior command officers. …

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