Monday, June 3, 2013
In July v. Board of School Com’rs, 2013 WL 2322949 (S.D. Ala. 2013), a group of African-American assistant principals in Mobile County, Alabama, sought class certification under the theory that the school district would not permit African-Americans to serve as principals in predominantly white schools, but only predominately African-American schools. The court denied class certification, reasoning that the group failed to satisfy the commonality requirement because individual issues would predominate. The court approached the case as a normal Title VII employment case and indicated that the plaintiffs had failed to properly allege a disparate impact case, which would have bolstered the commonality element of the class. Even with a properly alleged disparate impact claim, however, the court indicated the class still would have failed because the asserted damages of the class members would have caused individual issues to predominate.
Regardless of the outcome of this case, it represents another example the continuing tensions and legacy of segregation in Mobile County. Mobile County was the subject of a long running school desegregation litigation (Davis v. Board of School Com'rs of Mobile County, 402 U.S. 33 (1971)) and regular lawsuit thereafter, pertaining one way or the other to perceived or actual racial inequality and segregation.