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Royal Oak Police Department loses appeal over Title VII claim by female 17-year veteran

The Sixth Circuit reversed the District Judge and sent back for trial Karyn Risch's discrimination claim against the Royal Oak Police Department.  Risch, a uniformed patrol officer, claimed that she was passed over for promotion to detective, in favor of two male officers who achieved lower scores under the promotion system the Department had in place. The promotion system was based 70 % on written examination, 20% on performance review and 10 % on seniority. Risch's performance ratings were continuously superlative.

During the last few of her 17 years on the force, Risch repeatedly sought promotion and repeatedly scored in the top two or three positions.  The system allowed the Chief to select promotions from the top two or three candidates, however, and the Chief, Theodore Quisenberry, repeatedly filled the positions with male candidates who scored lower than Risch.  Risch also identified to the Court a number of statements and other evidence apparently evidencing a gender bias against women within the Department hierarchy.  While the trial court had dismissed the case, based upon the discretion allowed the Police Chief in ultimate hiring from the top candidates and the Chief's purported basis for consistently rejecting Risch, the Sixth Circuit concluded that she had presented ample testimony to warrant a jury trial.  The case was sent back for the jury to weigh the excuses offered by the Chief against the evidence  of apparent bias mustered by Risch.

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