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SCOTT v. BALDRIDGE

January 12, 1984

BONITA V. SCOTT, Plaintiff
v.
MALCOLM BALDRIDGE, Secretary of Commerce, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBINSON

ROBINSON, Chief Judge: --

 I. FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff, Bonita V. Scott, is a Black female who is currently employed in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), United States Department of Commerce. She is a GS-9 Program Specialist in the Capital Development Division, Office of the Deputy Associate Director for Market Development. She has held that position since 1978. She had previously served in the Capital Development Division in an unestablished position. Between April 1973 and June 1978 Scott worked in the Legal Staff and then in the Office of Chief Counsel. Her promotion to her current GS-9 grade was in 1974.

 2. In this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Defendant, Malcolm Baldridge, is sued as the Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce. Plaintiff alleges that she was denied a promotion to grade GS-11 because of race and sex discrimination.

 3. Scott worked under the supervision of James Marx, Chief of the Capital Development Division between July 1978 and February 1980. The position of Chief of the Capital Development Division was not filled after Mr. Marx vacated it in February 1980 until Lloyd Arrington assumed the position of Chief of the Capital Development Division in the summer of 1981.

 4. As a result of a reorganization within the Minority Business Development Agency, Philibert LaBonte became Deputy Associate Director for Market Development, a GS-15 position. He had four divisions under his supervision; the Industry and Trade Division, the Government Resources Division, the Capital Development Division and the Management Development Division. The position of Chief for each of these Divisions was vacant except for the Management Development Division in which Al Roma served as Chief.

 5. Personnel in the Capital Development Division in 1980 included Lonnie Murray, Project Officer, GS-13; Plaintiff Scott; Diane Bush, Clerk-Stenographer, GS-4; and for a few months beginning in October, Edith Pack, Secretary, GS-7. Murray and Bush are Black employees; Pack is white.

 6. LaBonte was supervised by the Associate Director, Policy and Management, Martha Mitchell. Mitchell was followed in the position of Associate Director by Clifford O. Young and then by Allen A. Stevenson. All are Black.

 7. Under the direction of Martha Mitchell, LaBonte served as Acting Chief for the Capital Development Division, the Industry and Trade Development Division and the Governmental Resources Development Division during vacancies in those positions. Until Arrington assumed the position of Chief of the Capital Development Division in the summer of 1981, LaBonte was the Administrative Supervisor for employees in that Division including Plaintiff Scott.

 8. During the period in which LaBonte was Acting Chief of the Capital Development Division, he did not recommend any employee for promotion.

 9. The Capital Development Division had a heavy workload of projects in 1980 and was understaffed. Scott and Murray performed all of the professional work in the Division and divided the workload between themselves. They did what was necessary to get a particular project or work assignment done properly. Between themselves they dealt with all aspects of grant administration within the Division. They had a pleasant and harmonious working relationship. This relationship and their joint skills and experience allowed them to produce the quantity and quality of work that satisfied LaBonte. Scott's abilities were readily accepted by Murray and LaBonte. Murray's assessment of Scott's performance is indicated by the performance evaluation he made of her at LaBonte's instruction. Murray also submitted a recommendation through LaBonte that Scott be promoted to the GS-1101-11 grade level based on an accretion of her duties and the high-quality of her performance. No action was taken on his recommendation.

 10. Murray who had made recommendations concerning Scott's performance appraisal had never read her position description and was not familiar with the duties and responsibilities that were assigned to her by that position description. Labonte's familiarity with Scott's work was derived from the correspondence and written work products concerning the Capital Development Division which went through his office. He reviewed those documents and the authors as indicated in them. This was the basis for his assessment of Scott.

 11. LaBonte had little personal contact with his Black employees. He had more personal contact with his white employees with whom he acted more at ease. This was perceived by the Black employees as treating them "differently." But this difference in treatment did not result in more favorable treatment of whites, nor conversely, less favorable treatment of Blacks. No whites were promoted by him. He reassigned Diane Bush, a Black, from a temporary position to a full time position. He had recommended Carolyn Pleasant, a Black, for a sustained superior performance award. He softened Mitchell's downgrade of Scott's performance evaluation.

 12. LaBonte's failure to discuss with his employees the appropriate section of their performance evaluations in 1981 before submitting them to Personnel, although admittedly in violation of regulations does not give rise to an inference that a racial motive was involved. The performance ...


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