not have the feared result defendants urge. What the statute is concerned with is not interpersonal disputes between employees. Rather, the instant case reveals the statutory prohibition on the alleged discriminatory imposition of a condition of employment by the supervisor of an office of an agency.
This Court concludes that plaintiff has stated a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a). The Court next turns to the motions for summary judgment and the administrative record.
III. REVIEW OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD
As stated above, after the complaint was filed in this case the Court determined that plaintiff had presented proof suggestive of sex discrimination. The Court remanded the case because the agency had placed the burden of proof on the plaintiff rather than bearing the burden to affirmatively establish the absence of discrimination. On remand, the Hearing Examiner found that there was a causal connection between plaintiff's supervisor's conduct and plaintiff's termination and that the defendant had failed to meet its burden. See pages 656-657, supra. The Complaint Adjudication Officer reversed this decision on the ground that, in his opinion, the conduct complained of did not come within the meaning of sex discrimination. Plaintiff has moved for judgment on the merits, asking this Court to reject the decision of the Complaint Adjudication Officer and instate the decision of the Hearing Examiner, or alternatively to declare that the plaintiff was terminated without cause,
and award her appropriate relief. The defendant has filed a renewed motion for summary judgment asserting that the record demonstrated that plaintiff was terminated for good cause and that there was no causal connection between her supervisor's advances and her termination from the agency.
Review of the administrative decision of the agency in this case is complicated by the fact that the Complaint Adjudication Officer's decision, which is the final decision of the agency, was defective on two grounds. First, that the decision rejected the Hearing Examiner's decision in the belief that the administrative complaint had not set forth a cause of action under Title VII. Since this Court has found otherwise, it rejects the contrary decision of the Complaint Adjudication Officer. Second, the Complaint Adjudication Officer rejected the decision of the Hearing Examiner because he thought the Examiner failed to consider the testimony of Ms. Ruth Spencer that was adduced at the supplementary hearings. He predominantly relied upon this testimony to conclude that the termination of plaintiff's employment was based on a "clash between two apparently strong-willed persons neither of whom would submit to the other" and was therefore not based on sex discrimination. Unfortunately, he does not reveal under what standard this conclusion was reached, nor does his decision indicate whether he viewed the plaintiff or the defendant having the burden of proof. In this Court's opinion, the decision of the Complaint Adjudication Officer is therefore wholly unsatisfactory to the point of being practically incapable of review.
Under these circumstances, this Court would normally remand the case to the administrative agency so that the Complaint Adjudication Officer could properly review the decision of the hearing examiner. See Davis, Administrative Law Treatise § 16.05 at 323 (1972). However, this Court has previously remanded this case to the administrative agency under directions to apply the proper standards and believes that it would be unjust as well as contrary to the intent of Title VII to remand the case again. The Court has therefore completely reviewed the record, as supplemented, to determine whether the Hearing Examiner's decision that the government had failed to affirmatively establish the absence of discrimination by the clear weight of the evidence was based on substantial evidence and was rational.
This Court finds that the conclusion of the Hearing Examiner, see pp. 656-657, supra, was both supported by ample evidence in the record and was a reasonable interpretation of that evidence. Plaintiff had alleged that subsequent to her rejection of her supervisor's advances as well as her supervisor's rejection of her request for a promotion, her supervisor began a program of harassment and criticism designed to have her employment terminated. The inference drawn was that since she had refused to submit to the sexual condition of her supervisor, he had retaliated by creating a basis for her discharge from the agency. The connection between the advances of her supervisor, which advances were not disputed, and the subsequent criticism by the supervisor of her work, was supported by the timing of the incident: the commencement of his criticisms of her alleged employment deficiencies when there had been no prior proof of criticism. This connection was sought to be broken by the defendant by an attempt to show that the alleged employment deficiencies of the plaintiff were true and were therefore the real reason for her discharge, and not merely a pretext. Much of the record was spent by both sides attempting to prove or disprove the allegations concerning plaintiff's work performance. The result of all of this evidence was inconclusive. The only thing that could be concluded was that plaintiff and her supervisor were experiencing some work problems and that during this time both parties were openly critical of each other.
In reviewing the evidence from the point of view of the plaintiff, the Court finds that the record made produced little more than a prima facie case.
In fact, at one point it appears that the plaintiff was unclear whether she viewed her supervisor's conduct as retaliation for her refusal to submit to his advances or retaliation for her attempt to advance her employment status. Nevertheless, there was evidence to support her allegation that the advances did occur and that the retaliation was a result of her refusal to comply with this condition. There was also evidence that other persons had been similarly subjected to this condition, all of whom were women.
A careful examination of the record shows that there was substantial evidence upon which the hearing officer could reasonably conclude that the Government did not affirmatively prove the absence of discrimination by the clear weight of the evidence. As stated above, the evidence concerning plaintiff's work performance was inconclusive at best, and hardly established by the clear weight that the allegations were not a pretext. While the defendant attempted to show that the advances were unrelated to the subsequent action of plaintiff's supervisor, none of the evidence directly established this contention. Ms. Ruth Spencer's testimony, on which the Complaint Adjudication Officer relied, was not only hearsay, but also, her testimony consisted almost entirely of what she thought plaintiff believed was the problem in the office. This can hardly be said to establish as fact that the supervisor's advances were not a condition of employment imposed upon the plaintiff, but rather a nonemployment related interpersonal encounter.
Having found that the Hearing Examiner's decision was based upon substantial evidence and was a reasonable interpretation of the evidence, the Court will deny defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment. And while the Court will grant plaintiff's motion for judgment on the basis of the administrative record, the Court can do no more than issue a declaration that the defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a), since the parties have not addressed what specific relief is appropriate and lawful under the circumstances. The Court will therefore issue an order disposing of the motions and requiring the parties to submit memoranda on the question of remedies.
Charles R. Richey United States District Judge
Date: April 20, 1976
Upon consideration of defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment, and plaintiff's motion for judgment, and in accordance with the Memorandum Opinion of the Court of even date herewith, it is, by the Court, this 20th day of April, 1976,
ORDERED, that defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint be, and the same hereby is, denied; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED, that defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment be, and the same hereby is, denied; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED, that plaintiff's motion for judgment be, and the same hereby is, granted; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED, that within five (5) days of the date of this Order the plaintiff shall file with the Clerk of this Court and serve opposing counsel with a memorandum concerning what specific relief is appropriate and lawful in this case, and the defendant shall file a responsive memorandum thereto within five (5) days from receipt of plaintiff's memorandum.