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WILLIAMS v. BOORSTIN

April 4, 1978

Joslyn N. Williams, Plaintiff
v.
Daniel J. Boorstin, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: OBERDORFER

OBERDORFER, D.J.:

 I.

 In an amended complaint, Robert L. Bostick joined Williams as plaintiff, and together they sought to represent all black persons who worked or applied to work at the Library since 1960. On behalf of the class, they sought relief for a wide variety of employment practices dealing with recruitment, hiring, promotion, and termination alleged to violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, *fn1" as well as the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. On August 20, 1973, Chief Judge William B. Jones denied plaintiffs' motion for class certification and severed the claims of Williams and Bostick. *fn2" Our Court of Appeals dismissed plaintiffs' appeal of that ruling, *fn3" and on February 12, 1976, Chief Judge Jones denied plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of the class action determination. This memorandum deals only with the claims of Williams.

 Initial pretrial proceeded under the supervision of Judge Jones until November of 1977, when the case was reassigned. There followed additional elaborate pretrial proceedings and a trial to this Court extending over seven days. At the trial, plaintiff, some Library employees friendly to him, and the principal Library officials involved in his case, appeared and testified at length; voluminous documentation was received in evidence. In the course of the pretrial and of the trial, the Court denied plaintiff's renewed motion for class action certification and refused to receive in evidence plaintiff's proffers of expert and other testimony about employment discrimination at the Library generally. On the basis of the relevant evidence of record, as summarized in the narrative below, the Court will enter judgment for Williams. Injunctive relief appropriate to the special circumstances of this case will be granted, and Williams' prayer for back pay will be denied.

 Williams' Activities at the Library of Congress

 Williams obtained his first job at the Library in 1967 as a GS-4 in the law library. He had graduated from Howard University and had earned one year's credit for legal studies at the Dalhousie Faculty of Law, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Believing, with some reason, that the Library preferred law students for positions in the law library, Williams falsely stated on his application that he was attending "Georgetown," leaving the erroneous impression by this and other statements and by his conduct that he was in the process of completing law school. A few months later, Williams obtained a GS-7 position as an examiner in the Library's Copyright Division. Believing, again with reason, that the Copyright Division preferred examiners who were law students or lawyers, Williams falsely represented that he was then attending law school.

 By 1971, Williams had performed at least satisfactorily as an examiner and had risen to Grade GS-11. When a position as Senior Copyright Examiner GS-12 became vacant, Williams applied. He did not win the position despite his taking the calculated risk of representing (falsely) that he had attended Georgetown from 1966 through 1970 and had received a J.D. degree there.

 In 1971, minority employees in the Library's Stack and Reader Division chose to express their dissatisfaction with Library employment practices by conducting a work stoppage. After consultation with the Department of Justice, the Library discharged a number of the participating employees. Williams interceded on their behalf, and represented them in an unsuccessful attempt to regain their jobs by appeal through the Library's administrative process.

 In the wake of the Stack and Reader episode, Williams made a presentation about Library employment practices to some Library officials, including Ms. Barbara Ringer, then Assistant Register of Copyrights. Williams' presentation alerted Ms. Ringer to the depth of the feeling of minority employees and what she came to see as the justice of their grievances about recruitment and promotion of minority employees. She obtained authority from her superior, Register of Copyrights Abraham Kaminstein, to attempt some administrative redress of these grievances. In the process she wrote a memorandum to the Librarian. The memorandum was not well received by the Librarian; he strongly criticized her for it. About one month after Ms. Ringer began her effort to improve administration to relieve some of the minority employee grievances, Ms. Ringer's administrative authority was revoked by Kaminstein pursuant to a directive by the Librarian. Thereupon, the Librarian retired Kaminstein from his office as Register, and, without proper competition or posting, persuaded George Cary, another Assistant Register, to take Kaminstein's place as Register. *fn4" Williams actively and publicly opposed the appointment of Cary as Register and circulated a controversial petition supporting Ringer for the position. Cary testified here that he considered himself to be an "old fashioned" person who believed in merit promotion for people who do their job, but who did not believe in promoting people who "spend their time making a lot of noises which is distractive of the efficiency of any office." He testified that while he had recognized that the union had a place, Williams spent too much time on union activities.

 When Congress was considering legislation to extend Title VII to employees of the executive branch of the federal government, Williams drafted and successfully advocated legislation to include employees of the Library of Congress within Title VII.

 In 1971, as Cary was replacing Kaminstein and Ms. Ringer was becoming occupied outside the Copyright Division in international copyright affairs at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Williams undertook and pursued a personal appeal to the American Library Association Council about employment practices at the Library. *fn5" In June 1971, he presented to the Council a resolution calling for an inquiry into alleged discrimination in recruitment and promotion at the Library. Although John G. Lorenz, Deputy Librarian, personally spoke in opposition to the resolution and denied the existence of discrimination at the Library, the Council adopted the Williams resolution and commenced the inquiry. The Librarian himself, in response to an ALA request, formally ruled against Library cooperation with the ALA inquiry on the stated ground that it would be "unprecedented action for a professional association to investigate a Federal agency." The decision not to cooperate with the ALA inquiry was considered by the Librarian to be so important that he obtained the written approval of it from then Congressman Wayne Hays and Senator B. Everett Jordan, Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Congressional Joint Committee which had oversight responsibility for the Library.

 Despite the reaction of the Librarian, and of the leaders responsible for congressional oversight, Williams persisted in assisting the inquiry. The inquiry team later concluded that there was institutional discrimination (albeit inadvertent) in Library employment practices. The inquiry and report, originated and assisted by Williams, was highly publicized locally, nationally, and internationally. Many employees testified that Williams' role in the inquiry embarrassed the Library.

 During all this time, Williams' falsification about his legal education had remained undiscovered. His work and his manner as an advocate and as a leader led his friends and his critics to believe him to be a trained and effective lawyer. Hutchison's assistant, Eugene Powell, testified, for example, that Williams effectively represented not only blacks at the Library, but also employees generally. As Herbert Belmaer, the Library's Employee Relations Specialist and Fair Employment Practices Officer, testified, Williams had legal expertise to cope with the Library system. He had an understanding of law and regulations. He was available to employees who couldn't hire a lawyer. And, as Belmaer and others testified, Williams was a "symbol to blacks." He was a "leader."

 So, as was inevitable, it happened: in late 1971 or early January 1972, when Williams' ALA activity was reaching a crescendo, an instructor in the Copyright Division, reflecting about Williams' awkward responses to some technical legal problems in Copyright Division training sessions, began privately to question Williams' credentials. The instructor, on his own initiative, checked at Georgetown Law Center. There was no record there of Williams. The instructor reported his findings to his superiors. Confronted with this discovery, Williams confessed that in spite of his many statements and representations as to his status as a law student and later as a lawyer, he in fact was not a lawyer.

 There ensued a protracted period of investigation during which Cary, Hutchison, and Lorenz met with Williams on a number of occasions to discuss his misrepresentations and the appropriate course of action for the Library. Williams attempted, without effective assistance of counsel, to explain his misrepresentations and protect his job. For example, he attempted to explain away his falsehoods in terms of the obstacles which confronted his early job applications, the tangled web which ensued, and his original (erroneous) assumption that he would be too obscure to be worth ...


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