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FAIN v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

March 21, 1983

CAROL FAIN, Plaintiff
v.
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

The plaintiff, Carol Fain, was employed by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections from April 9, 1979 until her discharge by a reduction in force in the summer of 1980. She worked as a correctional officer for the Department of Corrections from April 9 -- December 23, 1979, June 10-28, 1980, and September 21 -- October 14, 1980. In addition to a claim for advance sick leave, plaintiff has pursued a workmen's compensation action separate from this proceeding for the periods of her absence from work while employed at the Jail. Ms. Fain claimed in this action that the District of Columbia, and the superintendent and administrator of the District of Columbia Central Detention Facility (the Jail) discriminated against her because of her Caucasian race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1976) and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 (1976). She sought damages in the amount of $1.25 million.

 Specifically, plaintiff alleged discrimination in training, assignment, denial of advance sick leave, promotion, discharge, refusal to pay wages for 17 days of work, and recall of employees terminated by a reduction-in-force (RIF) directive. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a notice of right to sue on May 27, 1982 without taking action on plaintiff's EEOC charges.

 A trial de novo was held on March 1, 2, 3, and 4, 1983. The Court heard testimony from plaintiff, Carol Fain; Portia Bolden, a former correctional officer at the Jail; Sergeant Linda Collins, a correctional officer at the Jail; Reverend James Johnson, a former correctional officer and union steward at the Maximum Security facility at Lorton; Major Thomas Gaydos, the senior officer at the Jail; James F. Williams, an official in the District of Columbia Office of Personnel; Loretta McKnight, an employee in the public safety cluster of the Office of Personnel; and Captain Dolciler Peter Roberts, a correctional officer who worked at the Jail in 1979. The Court also accepted the proffered, stipulated testimony of attorney Brice Henderson and correctional officers Boyd Armstead, Lieutenant Wilson and Lieutenant Carney. The parties stipulated that Ms. Fain was owed 17 days' back pay.

 The Court enters judgment in favor of defendants and orders the District of Columbia to pay plaintiff 17 days' pay for the reasons set forth below.

  I.

 Findings of Fact

 A. April 9 -- December 23, 1979

 Ms. Fain began working at the Department of Corrections as a correctional officer on April 9, 1979. She received training for approximately five weeks at the Lorton Training Academy. She was the only white female. Her class included two white males, 19 black males, six black females, and one Hispanic female. Plaintiff's Exhibit (ex.) 24. Ms. Fain felt uncomfortable as the only white female officer, but did not express any complaints because she did not want to "make waves."

 The Department of Corrections assigned Ms. Fain to the Jail, where she received on the job training. As a GS-6 probationary officer, plaintiff worked with a GS-8 senior officer when assigned to the housing units. Cynthia Coleman, one of at least three senior officers with whom plaintiff worked frequently, expressed hostility about Ms. Fain in racial terms and failed to support her in several instances when Ms. Fain sought to discipline prisoners. Officer Coleman is black. On at least one occasion, Captain Roberts, also black, reprimanded Ms. Coleman for failing to support her fellow officer. Plaintiff did not complain of racial slurs from other senior officers or from any of her colleagues.

 Ms. Fain received many assignments not involving inmate contact, such as manning the staff entrance, mail room, infirmary control, and floor control. Those duties were regarded as easier than the more common housing unit assignment. One white officer, Lieutenant Carney, told plaintiff she probably wouldn't last long as the only "honky" female since "they had run out all the others." Other than Lieutenant Carney's remark, and Ms. Coleman's racially motivated hostility towards plaintiff, there is nothing from which to infer racial discrimination against Ms. Fain in training, assignment, or other treatment at the Jail from April 9 -- December 23, 1979. Ms. Fain did not complain about any of her supervisors, and each of them gave her above-average performance evaluations.

 B. December 23, 1979 -- June 10, 1980

 On December 23, 1979 in the officers' dining room, Officer Coleman threw a full soda can at Officer Fain. The can struck plaintiff in the back of the head. The Jail personnel called the D.C. police, and as a result of this incident, Officer Coleman pled guilty to criminal charges of assault and possession of a prohibited weapon. She was placed on probation for one year, fined $50, and transferred to another institution where she would not come in contact with Ms. Fain. Plaintiff's ex. 33. On December 24, Ms. Fain entered a hospital for treatment. She remained hospitalized for several weeks.

 Plaintiff obtained a doctor's note dated February 19, 1980. A Dr. Gistolfi wrote on a prescription slip with Ms. Fain's name at the top, "May return to light duty work." Plaintiff's Ex. 11. Ms. Fain said she presented the note to Major Gaydos in March or April 1980. Major Gaydos is white. Ms. Bolden, whom the Court finds most credible, testified that she accompanied Ms. Fain to the Jail in April or May to try to get permission for Ms. Fain to return to work. Plaintiff's witness, Reverend Johnson, indicated that at least two doctors refused to give Ms. Fain a note stating that she was able to return to work. Major ...


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