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A Louisiana district court properly applied the burden-shifting analysis to 36 failure-to-promote cases brought by individual black employees of a gasoline refinery, ruled the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs, employees at CITGO Petroleum Corporation’s (“CITGO”) Lake Charles, La., plant argued that the district court had “pigeonholed” them by utilizing this framework in proving their individual race bias cases. Rather, contended the employees, the court should have applied the pattern-and-practice method of proof recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Teamsters v. U.S. (14 EPD 7579 (1977)). ( Celestine v. Petroleos De Venezuella SA, 5thCir, 81 EPD 40,799) The 5th Circuit stated that the pattern-and-practice method of proof is almost exclusively used in class actions or in cases brought by the government. Individual cases, on the other hand, are generally confined to the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework of analysis. Although the 5th Circuit acknowledged that the Supreme Court never explicitly stated that the Teamsters method could never be used in private, non-class action suits, other circuits have reached that conclusion. The circuit court emphasized that the inquiry regarding an individual’s claim is the reason for a particular employment decision. However, at the liability stage of a pattern-and-practice trial, the focus often is not on individual hiring decisions, but on a pattern of biased decisionmaking. Given the precedents of this and other circuits, in addition to the nature and purpose of the pattern-and-practice method of proof, the district court acted well within reason in applying the burden-shifting method in this case, held the 5th Circuit. Accordingly, the order for summary judgment was affirmed. � 2002, CCH INCORPORATED. All Rights Reserved.

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