“Terribly Informal Selection Procedures” Are Not Necessarily Discrimination

Lawrence McNally is a sergeant with the United States Park Police. McNally is a white male who was born on June 22, 1951.

In 2000, 2003, and 2004, McNally applied to be a canine officer. On all three occasions, the Department selected other employees who were younger, and/or of a different race and/or gender. McNally sued the Park Police, contending he was the victim of race, gender, and age discrimination.

A federal court rejected McNally’s lawsuit. Though the Court criticized the “decided lack of formality” in the way the Park Police selected individuals for the canine division, it found that there was no evidence that the individuals making the assignments acted in bad faith. The Court found that the assignments could be made on the basis of McNally’s reputation, which was “for excellence as a cop, harsh relations with his subordinates, lack of good judgment to be able to finesse a delicate situation, and disregard for Park Police policies and management.”

The Court concluded that “in sum, it was Sergeant McNally’s reputation that doomed his applications – not his age, gender, or race. While reliance on reputation alone, without job-related criteria, may mask improper motives, there is no evidence here that it did so. The selecting officials’ personal knowledge regarding Sergeant McNally could have been incorrect, but their testimony was frank and highly credible that they believed the reasons they proffered for their decisions. In such circumstances, the Court will not infer that discrimination exists.”

McNally v. Norton, 2007 WL 2172792 (D.D.C. 2007).

This article appears in the September 2007 issue