The plaintiff has failed to prove the defendant was motivated by reprisal in making this particular evaluation of "Excellent".
E. Plaintiff's Reassignment to Employeeless Branch
At trial, the plaintiff established a prima facie case of retaliation in showing that she was reassigned to the Standards Branch, a branch with no staff and no program mandate, when the OHP was abolished in 1986. The reassignment was adverse to the plaintiff because she maintained her status as a manager, but had no staff to manage. Moreover, the evidence supports Mrs. Coleman-Santucci's contention that the assignment would be less likely to lead to career advancements. The fact that Mrs. Coleman-Santucci was the only employee of OHP reassigned to a branch without personnel illustrates a causal connection between the plaintiff's prior protected activity and the reassignment.
However, the agency explained that reassignment of Mrs. Coleman-Santucci was necessary to complete the phase out of the Office of Health Planning. The plaintiff was one of a small group of employees from the OHP left when the office was eliminated. Because the agency had chosen to reassign all the employees from this office, rather than institute a more drastic RIF, it had to find vacancies in other divisions at each employee's grade level. The defendant presented evidence that few slots at the plaintiff's GM-14 level were open. The defendant also presented evidence that at the time of Mrs. Coleman-Santucci's transfer, the bureau director believed that the Standards Branch would receive new funding and assignments under the newly enacted Health Care Quality Improvements Act. In addition, Dr. Fiori testified that the plaintiff was not the only employee of OHP who was upset about the reassignments. Dr. Fiori felt that she and others had been disadvantaged by the transfer.
The plaintiff has failed to produce sufficient evidence to rebut the defendant's explanation of the transfer. Although the plaintiff argues that she was one of the few employees who had to carry her slot with her during the transfer, this evidence also supports the defendant's contention that Mrs. Coleman-Santucci was difficult to place because of her high grade level. The whole agency was in turmoil, undergoing substantial cut backs. It appears the defendant was attempting to salvage as many jobs as possible. While the Court considers the defendant's actions in placing a management level employee in a position with no staff and little productive work to be wasteful and unfortunate, it does not find that the defendant acted in reprisal against Mrs. Coleman-Santucci.
The Court concludes by noting that this case is another unhappy example that litigation is not a panacea. Many of the problems suffered by Mrs. Coleman-Santucci were the product of a stressful situation made worse by a lack of cooperation and openness between employee and supervisor. The Court cannot cure such problems. The Court hopes that the parties will work together to develop a productive relationship for the future.
For the reasons set forth above, this Court concludes that the plaintiff has proven her first allegation of reprisal. The plaintiff has shown that the defendant discriminated against her in failing to name her Acting Director of DAOM in 1986. As to the plaintiff's remaining allegations, the Court concludes that the defendant did not act in reprisal against the plaintiff. The Court further concludes that the plaintiff is not entitled to monetary relief. Accordingly, this action is dismissed. An appropriate order is attached.
ORDER - January 7, 1991, Filed
Upon consideration of the testimony presented by both parties in the reopened trial; the plaintiff's Proposed Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law; the defendant's Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law; the entire record; and for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, this Court concludes that the defendant retaliated against the plaintiff in failing to appoint Mrs. Coleman-Santucci as Acting Director of the Division of Agency Operations and Management upon the retirement of Mr. John Belin. The Court further concludes that the plaintiff failed to show any other retaliatory acts by the defendant, and failed to establish that she was entitled to a promotion to a GM-15 level.
Therefore, it is by the Court this seventh day of January 1991,
ORDERED, that the action is dismissed.