Facts: Mary Alice Stennett sued the Tupelo Public School District (TPSD) for age discrimination after the district refused to hire her for seven different jobs. The trial court dismissed the suit on the grounds that Stennett failed to present sufficient evidence to counter the district’s reasons for not hiring her. Stennett appealed the trial court’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Holding: The Fifth Circuit reversed the trial court’s judgment that was in favor of the District, finding that Stennett had presented enough evidence to call into question the district’s reasons for not hiring her and to create a genuine issue of material fact that age was the reason. According to the Court, Stennett presented evidence showing (1) that she possessed comparatively exemplary qualifications for the jobs in question; (2) that TPSD failed to even interview her for five of the seven positions notwithstanding those exemplary qualifications; (3) that TPSD relied upon reasons that were peripheral to the job duties or subjective in nature for some of the positions in question; and (4) that TPSD failed to re-hire on a full-time basis the other three oldest employees at one of its centers. According to the Fifth Circuit, the evidence viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to Stennett could support a rational inference that TPSD refused to hire her because of her age. As a result, the Fifth Circuit reversed the pretrial judgment in favor of Mary Alice Stennett.