became familiar with the buildings and the day-to-day procedures. He got along well with other people. He came to know Mr. Jackson, a black, who was the Facility Manager. While Mr. Jackson had gone through many changes over ten years on the job, Mr. Jackson's initial background was comparable to his. Both men had been in the military and thereafter were Library policemen. Mr. Nance, commendably, wanted to move up to better pay and more responsibility in the Library. He liked working at the Library. He was improving his education. Knowing what Mr. Jackson's day-to-day duties appeared to involve, he felt he was qualified and sought one of the two vacant jobs when they were announced. There never was any doubt, in his mind, as to his qualifications. Once before, in 1981, he had applied for the same job but the vacancy was cancelled. He was considered qualified and interviewed at that time, and again in 1983, when the two vacancies were posted.
Given his association with the Library and familiarity with the institution he naturally felt discrimination when two whites, neither of whom had any Library experience, were selected. Such a normal reaction could have been anticipated by any perceptive personnel officer. Yet Mr. Nance was given no explanation, no guidance, and was left with every reason to feel slighted because his legitimate desire to advance was wholly ignored. He was never told what the superior qualifications of the selectees were. He was not told he needed to improve his ability to communicate and he was given no training as to how he might improve his Form 171 application (a mysterious art in itself); nor was he steered in the direction of other Library work where his abilities could be used to advantage. Treated presumably like other unsuccessful applicants, white and black, he became another personnel statistic in bureaucratic records and had every reason to feel discarded. Because of his race he attributed his misfortune to discrimination. He had no concrete evidence.
There is nothing in the record of this case to support a claim that this indifference reflected any racial bias. Others who lost out were treated the same, but it probably hurt Mr. Nance more. He came to court because it was the only place he felt he could get someone to consider his problem.
This scenario is fairly typical of federal personnel practice in some agencies and explains why many unsuccessful Title VII suits are filed. The Court's experience over years of hearing scores of such cases brought by federal employees has made it quite apparent that the root cause of the difficulty often lies in the fact the human side of personnel management has been overlooked. Well-meaning regulations and procedures make federal employees mere numbers in a mechanical personnel computer. This degrades federal service, coming as it does on top of often miserly pay.
Federal employees seeking relief in situations like this -- and there are many variables -- resort to Title VII because they have come to believe no one else will listen to them, show concern, or give advice. As a result, numerous cases wholly without any civil rights significance are filed and must be processed by the federal courts. These employees, who can find no enlightened personnel help within the government, are unintentionally weakening the essential objectives of the Civil Rights Act designed to eliminate true discrimination. When any personnel problem must be labelled race, age, or sex discrimination in order to get attention, genuine forms of discrimination -- which still exist and must get the prompt, decisive attention of the federal courts -- may get lost in the thicket of mislabeled actions.
Unfortunately, agencies confronted with an employee's personnel problems tend to ignore them if they have been mislabeled discrimination. Knowing that the Title VII label, no matter how far-fetched, will bring the dispute eventually into federal court for a de novo trial, agency personnel officers appear often to make no genuine effort to get at the root of the employee's personnel difficulties -- leaving these matters to be addressed at trial.
United States District Court Judges are not personnel officers. They are capable of preserving civil rights under law and are dedicated to that effort. There is much that can be done within the government agencies to improve federal personnel matters in this area which will lighten the load on the courts and improve employee relations in the federal service.
The Clerk of Court shall enter judgment for defendant.