Donna Solly was employed as a limited-status teacher at Caldwell Area Technology Center. Her employment was not renewed. The reason her employer gave for her non-renewal was that she had had an affair with a male colleague. Solly filed suit in the Franklin County Circuit Court, alleging sex discrimination. The Circuit Court found in favor of her employer, but the Court of Appeals of Kentucky reversed and remanded, holding that she had established a prima facie case of sex discrimination. The Kentucky Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding both that she had not established that her male colleague with whom she had had an affair was not similarly situated, and that her employer’s stated justification for firing her was not pretextual.
Women and Justice: Court: Supreme Court of Kentucky
Mary Banker, an assistant track coach at the University of Louisville, made a series of complaints about the conduct of male track coaches which she believed to be deprecating to women. When her contract was not renewed, she filed suit for retaliatory discharge, gender discrimination, and hostile work environment. The Jefferson County Circuit Court found for the university on the latter two counts, but awarded Banker damages for her retaliatory discharge. The Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed on the retaliatory discharge claim, but the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that Banker had established a prima facie case of retaliatory discharge, albeit in part through circumstantial evidence of causation.
Deborah Powell was the women’s basketball coach at Asbury University who brought numerous complaints over several years to the university’s athletic director that the men’s team was receiving preferential treatment. Later, the university placed Powell on administrative leave allegedly for her having an inappropriate relationship with a female assistant coach. Powell brought suit under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act claiming that Asbury discriminated against her based on gender, defamed her, and retaliated against her for her complaints about her team receiving inferior treatment. The Jessamine Circuit Court ruled in Asbury’s favor regarding the discrimination and defamation, but in Powell’s favor on the retaliation claim. Both the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed, holding that while the school had not engaged in gender discrimination, it had engaged in retaliation against Powell for her complaining about alleged gender discrimination, which is in itself unlawful.
Andrea Weickgenannt was a faculty member at Northern Kentucky University who was denied tenure, despite receiving high marks in her employment evaluations. She was the only female accounting professor considered for tenure by the university in fifteen years. She brought suit alleging gender discrimination in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. The Campbell County Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of the university, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed, but the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the Circuit Court ruling. The Supreme Court held that Ms. Weickgenannt had failed to demonstrate sufficiently that a male candidate was similarly situated.
Kentucky law requires abortions to be performed at healthcare facilities licensed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, but private physicians’ practices are exempt from this licensing requirement. The Cabinet brought suit against EMW Women’s Clinic of Lexington, Kentucky, to force it to comply with the licensing requirement and requested a temporary injunction to prevent the clinic from performing abortions until the courts determined its legal status as either an abortion provider, which would require the license, or a private physician’s officer. The Fayette Circuit Court denied the Cabinet’s request for an injunction, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed and imposed the requested injunction, finding that the Cabinet was entitled to a presumption of irreparable injury because it demonstrated a “reasonable probability” of injury without the injunction. The Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Court of Appeals had not abused its discretion.
Cole Ross was convicted of murder and arson. He appealed his conviction claiming, among other things, that the Commonwealth of Kentucky used its preemptory challenges to dismiss female jurors on the basis of gender. Seven out of the nine peremptory challenges used by the Commonwealth to remove prospective jurors were used to dismiss women. The trial court found that the Commonwealth’s justifications were gender neutral and non-pretextual. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Kentucky found that the disproportionate striking of women jurors and the Commonwealth’s admission during jury selection that they wished to dismiss female jurors created the inference of gender discrimination. The Supreme Court of Kentucky found that this inference was not rebutted by a gender-neutral justification, thereby constituting a Batson violation. Accordingly, the Commonwealth violated the Equal Protection Clause by denying the women the right to be on a jury on the basis of their gender and thus the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings