A panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal today upheld a lower court ruling favoring Nexstar Broadcasting in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee.
Lesa Davis, a former production coordinator at KARK in Little Rock, claimed that racial discrimination led to her being fired from her job as a production coordinator. Ms. Davis created graphics and backgrounds for news, weather, and sports, according to her lawsuit. She had worked on KARK's morning program since the 1980s and had been with the station since 1977.
In August 2003, she was assigned to the nightshift, which interfered with her other job with UPS, which she had held for more than 25 years. She had to take a layoff from the company. Ms. Davis claims that white employees who had been with KARK for far less time than she, were allowed to choose reassignment on a seniority basis.
The U. S. District Court in Arkansas found in favor of Nexstar and dismissed the case on Sept. 30, 2004. Ms. Davis filed her appeal on Oct. 21. The appeal claims the U. S. District Court judge committed reversible error by "ignoring overwhelming disputes of material fact" that pointed toward intentional discrimination, by determining that her reassignment to the night shift was not discrimination, and by claiming there was "no genuine issue" for the racial discrimination claim.
The Eighth District appellate panel disagreed with that reasoning. "Nexstar did not create an intolerable work environment," the opinion said. "There is no indication Nexstar acted with the intention of forcing Davis to resign or that she intended to do so as a result of Nexstar's actions."
The opinion put a large portion of the blame for Ms. Davis' problems on Ms. Davis. "Davis quit work rather than work with KARK-TV to find a solution that resolved her concerns," the opinion said.
Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.