Chicago’s Reasons For Failing To Hiring Muslim Officer Not Pretextual

Ricky Martinez is a Muslim male of Middle-Eastern origin. Martinez filed a federal court lawsuit alleging that the Chicago Police Department failed to hire him as a probationary police officer because of his religion.

In dismissing Martinez’s claim, the Court applied the “indirect method of proof” test to Martinez’s claim. Under the test, if a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case by showing that he or she is a member of a protected class and received unfavorable treatment, the burden shifts to the defendant to provide a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the action. If the defendant meets that burden, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to show that there is some issue of material fact as to whether the employer’s reasons are merely pretext for unlawful discrimination.

The Court found that Martinez could not show that the Department’s rationale for rejecting him as an applicant was a pretext. Rather, the Court held, “the undisputed record amply indicates a solid foundation and documentation for each of the reasons for rejection that were given to Martinez. Martinez failed to register for the selective service system. Martinez also acknowledges that he had $250 in unpaid parking tickets, and the fact that he had an account in collection were reasons for his rejection. Martinez admitted that he received a suspension for an aggravated assault instead of a conviction, but fails to show that a sentence of supervision as opposed to dismissal of charges is not a sentence that could be considered in assessing his respect for the law. There were many potential reasons for Martinez’s rejection and the various individuals reviewing his application and those informing him of his rejection could have reasonably cited some of the different reasons for his rejection. Martinez points to no evidence that would reasonably allow an inference that there was a cover-up or hidden motives behind the given reasons for his rejection.”

Martinez v. City of Chicago, 2009 WL 2475219 (N.D. Ill. 2009).

This article appears in the February 2010 issue