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GLOBUS v. SKINNER

September 11, 1989

KATHLEEN SHETLER GLOBUS, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMUEL SKINNER, Secretary, Department of Transportation, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REVERCOMB

 GEORGE H. REVERCOMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This case involves an allegation of unlawful retaliation against an employee for her antidiscrimination activities, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ┬ž 2000e-3(a). Trial was held on April 6-11, 1989. In the findings of fact, the Court concludes that the defendant did not retaliate against the plaintiff and in the conclusions of law the Court finds in favor of the defendant.

 I. Findings of Fact

 The plaintiff, Kathleen Shetler Globus ("Ms. Shetler"), *fn1" was hired in 1967 by the Maritime Administration (MarAd), an agency of the United States government. *fn2" She was promoted numerous times, achieving the grade of GS-13 in 1973. In 1977, Ms. Shetler was assigned to a position in the Office of Maritime Labor and Training, which was referred to as "Code 250." The head of the office was Mr. Arthur Friedberg.

 During the 1970s and early 1980s, Ms. Shetler was involved in a number of equal employment opportunity ("EEO") activities at MarAd. She received from the Secretary of Commerce in 1979 a certificate in recognition for her EEO work.

 One of these activities was a class action lawsuit, Harrison v. Dole, brought in 1977 by MarAd employees, alleging discrimination on account of sex and race. Ms. Shetler was deposed in June 1981 and was listed by the plaintiffs in October 1981 as a potential witness. She she did not, however, testify at the trial in February 1982. By the time of the trial in Harrison, however, some employees at MarAd perceived Ms. Shetler to be an instigator or a ringleader of EEO activity at MarAd.

 The plaintiff's case centers around the alleged animus toward her by Mr. Russell Stryker, associate administrator for policy and administration, who reported to Admiral Shear, administrator of MarAd. The plaintiff and other witnesses testified that Mr. Stryker was displeased with Ms. Shetler's EEO activities and about the Harrison litigation in general. He occasionally made unfavorable comments about her to her supervisor and often mentioned her at weekly staff meetings during the Harrison litigation. The plaintiff testified that Mr. Stryker once referred to her as the "enemy" in a conversation with another MarAd employee.

 The Office of Maritime Labor and Training, in which the plaintiff worked after 1977, analyzed long-term labor trends in the maritime industry, worked with the maritime labor unions, ran the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and operated other maritime labor programs. The plaintiff was a productive employee of the Office of Maritime Labor and Training.

 MarAd was forced to make significant cutbacks in the number of its employees during the federal budget cuts of the early 1980s. For example, the agency was forced to cut the number of full time (or equivalent part-time) employees from 1249 in 1981 to 973 in 1984.

 After consulting with Mr. Stryker, associate administrator for policy and administration, MarAd Administrator Admiral Shear ordered a "reduction in force" ("RIF") in 1982. He directed that much of the RIF be imposed on MarAd's Washington office and on the regional offices, in order to preserve as much as possible of the agency's shipbuilding, ready reserve fleet, and maritime subsidy activities.

 Code 250 was ordered to reduce its staff from 13 to 12 employees. Admiral Shear ordered that the cut be made to coincide with the transfer of the agency's radar schools into private hands.

 Mr. Friedberg decided that he would abolish Ms. Shetler's position, even though she had no responsibility for the radar schools. The positions of the three employees whose task it was to oversee the radar schools were not chosen for abolition. Mr. Friedberg stated that his decision was made because he concluded that the work Ms. Shetler was performing was of decreasing value to the agency.

 The plaintiff testified that Mr. Friedberg, like Mr. Stryker, did not not approve of the Harrison litigation and made disparaging comments about the meetings of the Harrison participants. She did not testify, however, that she heard him criticize her personally about EEO activities.

 Not long before the RIF was to go into effect, however, another Code 250 employee unexpectedly resigned. Mr. Friedberg cancelled the abolition of Ms. Shetler's position, even though he did not have to do so.

 Because of tightening budget constraints, however, MarAd officials by early 1983 concluded that the agency needed to decrease the number of its employees to 993 by October 1983. ...


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