Plaintiff-Appellant Leroy Evans, Jr. appeals from the district court's order granting Defendant-Appellee City of Bishop summary judgment on Evans's discrimination claims. For the following reasons, we REVERSE.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On June 17, 1998, Defendant-Appellee City of Bishop ("Bishop") advertised in the Kingsville Record the newly created position of administrative assistant. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff-Appellant Leroy Evans, Jr., a former council member,
Three days before the city council meeting, Cindy Villarreal, a Bishop municipal court clerk,
Evans filed suit against Bishop on December 18, 1998, asserting claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). He alleged employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, and sex. On June 23, 1999, Bishop filed a motion for summary judgment.
The district court referred the case to a United States magistrate judge who, on August 26, 1999, filed her Memorandum and Recommendation. The magistrate judge recommended that Bishop's motion for summary judgment be granted and judgment rendered in Bishop's favor. In a decision dated November 29, 1999, the district court adopted the magistrate judge's conclusions
Evans timely appealed the decision to this court. On May 22, 2000, a panel of this court affirmed the district court in an unpublished opinion. See Evans v. City of Bishop, 218 F.3d 743 (5th Cir.2000) (per curiam). However, on July 27, 2000, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000), we withdrew our May 22 opinion.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
We review de novo a district court's grant of summary judgment, applying the same standard as the district court. See Walker v. Thompson, 214 F.3d 615,
III. SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY DOES NOT BAR ADEA CLAIM
Bishop asserts that Evans's ADEA claim is barred because the ADEA has recently been held to be an invalid abrogation of a state's sovereign immunity. Bishop argues further that the law at the time of appellate review determines the existence of a live controversy.
The Supreme Court in Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 120 S.Ct. 631, 145 L.Ed.2d 522 (2000), held that Congress exceeded its powers under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment by enacting the ADEA. As such, the states and their political subdivisions are protected by the sovereign immunity principle embodied in the Eleventh Amendment. In this case, however, Bishop is not a state; it is a city. Bishop argues that the Kimel Court noted that Congress did not have sufficient grounds to believe that state and local governments were engaging in age discrimination, see id. at 645; thus, Bishop concludes that it, as a city, is immune from ADEA suits.
However, the Kimel Court's comment about congressional findings has no relevance regarding whether a city has sovereign immunity from suit. That determination arises from the well-settled law under Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence regarding "political subdivisions." Not all political subdivisions are automatically immunized when the state is immunized. See Earles v. State Bd. of Certified Pub. Accountants, 139 F.3d 1033, 1036 (5th Cir.1998) (citing Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 677-78 n. 12, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974)). "We must look to see whether the entity in effect stands in the shoes of the state itself." Id. (internal quotations and citation omitted).
In the overwhelming number of cases, Eleventh Amendment protection "does not extend to counties and similar municipal corporations." Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 280, 97 S.Ct. 568, 50 L.Ed.2d 471 (1977) (emphasis added). Thus, "independent local political subdivisions are not entitled to ... [sovereign] immunity even though they exercise a `slice of state power.'" Jacintoport Corp. v. Greater Baton Rouge Port Comm'n, 762 F.2d 435, 438 (5th Cir.1985); see also City of Lafayette, La. v. La. Power & Light Co., 532 F.2d 431, 434 n. 6 (5th Cir.1976) ("[C]ities, counties, and other state political subdivisions are not considered `the state' for purposes of Eleventh Amendment immunity.").
Bishop is a city, and there is no evidence that it is controlled by the State of Texas to such an extent that it stands in the
IV. PLAINTIFF SURVIVES SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Evans argues that because he made out a prima facie case of discrimination and illustrated that Bishop's proffered reasons were pretextual, he has presented a genuine issue as to Bishop's discriminatory motives. He asserts further that Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000), explicitly did not require evidence beyond a prima facie case and pretext as a prerequisite for a plaintiff to survive summary judgment. Bishop responds that although Evans put forth a prima facie case, Reeves does not alter the result of the previous panel decision because no rational trier of fact could conclude that its actions were motivated by discriminatory animus. We do not agree. We find that Evans fulfilled his duty under Reeves to demonstrate genuine issues of material fact as to his discrimination claims, and thus, the case should proceed to trial.
In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), the Supreme Court specified a burden-shifting approach to establishing proof of intentional discrimination via circumstantial evidence.
Because Bishop produced non-discriminatory reasons, the "presumption of discrimination [created by Evans's prima facie case] drops out of the picture." Reeves, 120 S.Ct. at 2106 (internal quotations and citation omitted). However, the fact finder "may still consider the evidence establishing the plaintiff's prima facie case `and inferences properly drawn therefrom ... on the issue of whether the defendant's explanation is pretextual.'" Id. (quoting Burdine, 450 U.S. at 255 n. 10, 101 S.Ct. 1089).
The district court found that a trier of fact could conclude that both of Bishop's proffered reasons were pretextual.
Evans also adduced evidence to support a finding of pretext regarding the qualification justification. He points to a contrary statement by Rogers in his deposition that qualification was not his main priority. Evans also questions how Villarreal could be deemed the most qualified when Rogers did not interview any other candidates and when he stated that he did not compare Evans's and Villarreal's qualifications.
Thus, Evans has established a prima facie case of discrimination and put forth sufficient evidence for a fact finder to find Bishop's proffered reasons to be pretextual. Reeves instructs that this showing is usually sufficient for a plaintiff's case to survive summary judgment:
Reeves, 120 S.Ct. at 2108-09.
In this case, Evans has also put forth evidence beyond that of the prima facie case and pretext. Evans stated that one
The district court applied a now-disallowed legal standard to analyze Bishop's summary judgment motion. The Supreme Court in Reeves emphasized the importance of jury fact finding and reiterated that evidence of the prima facie case plus pretext may, and usually does, establish sufficient evidence for a jury to find discrimination. See Reeves, 120 S.Ct. at 2109. Thus, considering all of the evidence and taking all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant Evans, a genuine issue exists as to whether Bishop intentionally discriminated against Evans.
For the above-stated reasons, the judgment of the district court is REVERSED. We REMAND for further proceedings in light of this opinion. Costs shall be borne by Bishop.