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“Reverse Discrimination,” Retaliation Charges Reinstated



A federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision and reinstated a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by a white assistant purchasing agent for an Illinois city who was overlooked for a promotion, in a “reverse discrimination” case.

Diane Runkel was working as an assistant purchasing agent for Springfield, Illinois, in 2018 when the purchasing agent announced plans to leave the position, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in Diane Runkel v. City of Springfield and James O. Langfelder.

Runkel, who is white, asked to be considered for this promotion, but later learned that the city had instead promoted a black candidate, Kassandra Wilkin, who had worked under Runkel̵

7;s supervision.

When Runkel learned she had not been promoted but would receive a $5,000-a-year raise, she became upset, told an official she believed the hiring was discriminatory and caused a disruption in the office, the ruling said.

She later filed a racial discrimination claim with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After telling the city she planned to press charges, she was disciplined and the promised raise revoked. She retired soon after.

Runkel filed suit in US District Court in Springfield, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court dismissed the case.

It was overturned by a two-judge court panel, which reinstated both charges. Runkel has presented evidence that the city may have discriminated against her as a white person, the ruling said.

The mayor, Mr. Langfelder, has cited his hiring of Wilkin as an example of how his administration was “moving toward reflecting the demographics of the city,” and there is evidence that he did not see Wilkin’s resume until after he had already done so. offered her the position, it said.

According to the decision, Runkel also offered evidence that she was qualified to serve as a purchasing agent, was rejected for the position, and that the city had chosen to promote someone of another race who was at least as qualified.

The ruling said the city cited Runkel’s alleged misconduct after learning of Ms. Wikin’s appointment as a reason for its actions, which is “on its face an after-the-fact rationalization” of its hiring decision.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.


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