Erlanger discrimination lawsuit raises questions about representative juries

Erlanger Health System

As both parties prepare for a $25 million lawsuit filed by Erlanger hospital's former interim CEO to reach the courtroom, a challenging question could arise Tuesday morning when jury selection begins.

How does one select a diverse, representative, yet impartial jury for a weeks-long trial that hinges on racial accusations?

"That's a really, really difficult needle to thread," said Paula Hannaford-Agor, who advises on jury selection matters for the National Center for State Courts.

After working there 21 years and serving as the hospital's interim CEO between 2012 and 2013, Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson sued Erlanger that July, claiming retaliatory discharge, invasion of privacy and conspiracy.

In addition to being abruptly terminated without notice while on medical leave, Woodard-Thompson claimed she "experienced an array of strange and alarming happenings" as interim CEO.