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TURNER v. BARR

November 25, 1992

ROBERT S. TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM P. BARR, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES R. RICHEY

 I. INTRODUCTION

 This is a disparate treatment case against the U.S. Marshal's Service where the plaintiff, a 47 year old white male of the Jewish faith and religion, claims that his employer violated his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-16(a), in that the terms and conditions of his employment as a Deputy U.S. Marshal at the D.C. Superior Court violated his rights to a work environment free from religious, ethnic, or racial discrimination.

 II. BACKGROUND

 The Plaintiff, Robert S. Turner, is a 47 year old white male of the Jewish faith who began employment in the federal government in 1974 with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He subsequently moved to the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations in 1983 as a GS-12 Special Investigator. In 1988, he became an Inspector in the Witness Security Division at the Washington Metro Office of the United States Marshals Service. In April 1989, the Plaintiff transferred to the District of Columbia Superior Court District of the Marshals Service, where he became a GS-12 Deputy U.S. Marshal. Soon thereafter, the Plaintiff was assigned to the Court Support Unit.

 The Plaintiff complains that, following his assignment, he was only given limited access to the full range of duties and opportunities of a Deputy U.S. Marshal, such as the service and execution of warrants, conducting evictions, prisoner transfers, etc. He testified believably that the experience he sought, and was denied access to, would benefit him in his career as a Deputy U.S. Marshal and would enhance his ability to advance through higher ranks of pay and responsibility in the Marshals Service, the oldest law enforcement agency in the Nation.

 In addition, Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to work overtime in an amount comparable to many of the the African-American Deputies in his office. However, he did get some overtime hours. See Pl. Ex. 14 (setting forth the overtime hours of other Deputies of various grades).

 Further, the Plaintiff applied for special training in languages and law enforcement in an effort to enhance and strengthen his abilities and employment opportunity. Test. of Robert S. Turner, at 5. The Plaintiff was told to request the training in writing, which he did. The Plaintiff never received a response to his requests. Similarly, his request to participate in the Deputy Development Program, a training program designed to enhance the abilities of Deputies, was met with resistance and, although finally agreed to, was not fully implemented.

 The Court does not believe or subscribe to the government's contention at trial that the Plaintiff was denied access to the normal rotation in assignments or overtime duty by virtue of his grade, namely, a GS-12. The Court's conclusion is buttressed and supported by the evidence that it was his race and religion that caused him to suffer in these respects. See Pl. Ex. 14.

 The ultimate incident giving rise to this action was the discipline or seven day suspension of the Plaintiff for the escape of a now-deceased prisoner, Kenneth Ashby, on January 16, 1990. The prisoner was allegedly in the custody of the Plaintiff when he escaped behind Courtroom 202 in the District of Columbia Superior Court Building. As indicated, an investigation conducted some eight months later and after the prisoner had died was the alleged basis for which the Plaintiff was suspended from duty for seven days. No once else was disciplined for the incident although others in this office were involved at least in part.

 The Plaintiff filed a complaint on May 16, 1991, within thirty days of his suspension, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that the suspension was discriminatory and an example of the ongoing harassment he faced because of his religion and white race.

 III. THE HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT ASSERTED HERE IS ACTIONABLE UNDER TITLE VII BECAUSE ALL AMERICANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORK IN AN ATMOSPHERE AND UNDER TERMS OF CONDITIONS IN EMPLOYMENT THAT ARE FREE OF DISCRIMINATION ON ACCOUNT OF RACE, COLOR, SEX OR RELIGION.

 The cause of action for hostile work environment was first recognized by the Fifth Circuit in Rogers v. EEOC, 454 F.2d 234 (5th Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 406 U.S. 957, 32 L. Ed. 2d 343, 92 S. Ct. 2058 (1972). This same rule was upheld by the Supreme Court in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67, 91 L. Ed. 2d 49, 106 S. Ct. 2399 (1986), affirming Vinson v. Taylor, 243 U.S. App. D.C. 323, 753 F.2d 141 (D.C. Cir. 1985). Other cases have followed that say Title VII provides employees with "the right to work in an environment free from discriminatory ...


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