On Aug. 20, federal Western District Court Judge Lacy Thornburg, in his last civil case before retiring later this month, overturned a jury trial’s determination that Buncombe County and the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency illegally used gender discrimination when they passed over Melanie Pitrolo for the interim director’s position in 2005.
The 4th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals had previously determined that the first time Thornburg dismissed the case — in 2007 — he did not properly apply the law in gender-discrimination cases. In a unanimous decision, the appeals court called for a jury trial. This past July, a jury found in Pitrolo’s favor, declaring that the county and agency board members had indeed considered her gender in declining to hire her to replace outgoing director Bob Camby, who had recommended her for the job.
Pitrolo has not decided whether to appeal Thornburg’s latest decision.
For more, see Xpress’ report on the case, “Pollution, politics and gender.”
— Margaret Williams