This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).




Orester Hollie,



City of Minneapolis,


Filed December 10, 1996


Harten, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 94-7587

Gordon W. Solo, Suite 212, 1422 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (for Appellant)

Michael T. Norton, Acting Minneapolis City Attorney, Larry L. Warren, Assistant City Attorney, 300 Metropolitan Centre, 333 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402-2453 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Harten, Judge.



Following a trial, the district court found that Orester Hollie failed to prove his claim of unlawful employment discrimination. The court denied Hollie's motion for a new trial or amended findings and conclusions. We affirm.


Orester Hollie is an African American employed by the City of Minneapolis in its Public Works Department (Department).

Hollie began his employment as a part-time truck driver in the Department's Equipment Division. Several years later, Hollie transferred to his present full-time position in the Department's Street Maintenance Division.

Hollie is classified as a Maintenance Truck Driver. Maintenance Truck Drivers receive premiums for performing functions different from those performed by regular truck drivers. There are only three or four Maintenance Truck Drivers in the entire Department, and Hollie is the only Maintenance Truck Driver in the Street Maintenance Division. Hollie's position has been characterized as "unique" within the Street Maintenance Division.

Some of Hollie's duties are similar to those of employees classified as Maintenance Worker II. But, as a Maintenance Truck Driver, Hollie is a member of Teamster's Union Local 320, whereas employees classified as Maintenance Worker II are members of Teamster's Local 363.

The Street Maintenance Division has a system of temporarily promoting a worker to replace an absent employee. For a limited time, the worker is paid for and performs the duties of the absent employee. This system is called "detailing." There is no specific procedure for deciding who will be detailed, but it is more efficient to detail a member of the absent employee's crew, because that member ordinarily will have a better understanding of the particular project.

Hollie has made numerous requests to be detailed or promoted to either Maintenance Worker II or foreman, but his requests have been consistently denied. Hollie has taken examinations to become a Maintenance Worker II or foreman, but he has not passed them.[1]

Hollie sued the city, alleging racial discrimination based on the city's failure to detail or promote him. See Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 1(2)(c) (1994) (prohibiting discrimination based on terms, conditions, or privileges of employment). Following a trial, the district court found that Hollie had not proved his claim of racial discrimination. The court denied Hollie's post-trial motion.


Minnesota courts apply the three-part McDonnell Douglas test to a claim of unlawful employment discrimination. See Sigurdson v. Isanti County, 386 N.W.2d 715, 720 (Minn. 1986) (citing and applying McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973)). Under this test, a plaintiff must present evidence supporting a prima facie case of discrimination; the employer may then present evidence of a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its actions, in which case the plaintiff must prove that the proffered reason was a pretext for discrimination. Sigurdson, 386 N.W.2d at 720. A trial court must explicitly apply the three-step McDonnell Douglas analysis. Id. at 721.

In its order denying Hollie's post-trial motion, the district court cited and applied the McDonnell Douglas test, referring to its original findings of fact. The district court found that Hollie had established a prima facie case of discrimination; that the city had articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its actions; and that Hollie had not proven that the city's stated reasons were a pretext for discrimination.

On appeal from the denial of a new trial motion, our review is limited:

[T]he verdict must stand unless it is manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict.

ZumBerge v. Northern States Power Co., 481 N.W.2d 103, 110 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. April 9, 1992). Hollie's arguments on appeal have not convinced us that the district court's decision is manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence.

Hollie presented statistical evidence to support his discrimination claim. The district court rejected those statistics, concluding that they were based on inappropriate employment pools. After carefully examining the evidence, we agree that Hollie has not submitted statistics from the appropriate employment pool.

Hollie's statistics analyze the racial composition and racial frequencies of detailing within several groups of city and Department employees. Those groups include service-maintenance employees, supervisors, foremen, street maintenance workers, asphalt rakers, laborers, and truck drivers. Because Hollie is a Maintenance Truck Driver, however, we must focus upon requests for detailing and promotion within the Maintenance Truck Driver group. Hollie's statistical evidence does not analyze the impact, if any, of racial composition on detailing or promotion requests by Maintenance Truck Drivers.

The district court found that the city's failure to promote Hollie was legitimate because Hollie was unable to pass a civil service promotional examination. We agree that this reason supports the city's failure to promote Hollie.

The district court found that the city had several legitimate reasons for refusing to detail Hollie. It found that "union contracts create jurisdictional lines which would prevent an employee from being detailed into a position covered by another union contract." This finding is supported by the record.

The union contracts for Local 320 and Local 363 do not authorize detailing across union lines. Hollie himself admitted that he was told he could not be detailed to Maintenance Worker II or foreman because he is a truck driver. Hollie testified: "I would imagine you could say I'm not in the right union or right classification." Furthermore, the Department's director of administration testified in a deposition that detailing Hollie from Local 320 to Local 363 would raise jurisdictional issues. A 1991 memorandum by the director indicated that a Local 363 union representative had refused to attend a meeting to discuss detailing a non-bargaining unit employee into Local 363. Another memorandum from the director stated that transferring Hollie to a Maintenance Worker position would contravene Local 363 rules. An officer and business representative of Local 320 testified that he did not know how Hollie could be detailed to Maintenance Worker II, because Hollie would have to change bargaining units.

There is also evidence supporting the city's failure to detail Hollie to a foreman position (which would not have required Hollie to detail laterally across union lines). Hollie's job description required that he move from site to site; he was not assigned to a specific project or crew. As the district court found, it would be more efficient for the city to detail a member of an absent employee's crew, who ordinarily would have a better understanding of a site-specific project.

It is obvious that the Department's detailing system could be better coordinated in the city's various collective bargaining agreements; we nonetheless conclude that Hollie has not shown the decision of the district court to be manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence.


[ ]1There is evidence that an employee who is detailed into another position gains experience that is helpful in the testing process.