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HILL v. SLATER

January 23, 1998

ARTHUR T. HILL, III, Plaintiff,
v.
RODNEY E. SLATER, Secretary, Department of Transportation, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERTSON

 Until the transfer that gave rise to this lawsuit, plaintiff, a white male, was an Area Supervisor of the North Area, Chicago Center, for the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"). Plaintiff's claim is that his transfer -- from a supervisory position to a non-supervisory one -- violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights. Both sides have moved for summary judgment.

 Facts

 Plaintiff became a supervisor on October 1, 1996. Def. Statement P 2; Pltf. Statement P 1. His responsibilities included direct management or oversight of about 72 employees, including a number of women and persons who are members of racial minority groups. Def. Ex. 1, Hill Dep. at 23.

 In November 1996, an article entitled "No Way Out" appeared in Government Executive magazine. The first two paragraphs read as follows:

 
Arthur Hill, a manager for the Federal Aviation Administration and member of the Federal Managers Association, isn't taking any more chances with equal employment opportunity complaints. He's been closely involved in several EEO complaints which, he contends, were unfounded.
 
As a result, he's radically altered his management style, consciously distancing himself from some employees. "You meet a minority or a woman, you keep your conversations to a curt manner and that's it. You don't try to be friendly," says Hill. "Friendliness can be misconstrued, twisted out of context if you're just joking with somebody. You're better off as a manager isolating yourself from that section of the workforce."

 Def. Ex. 4. On November 26, 1996, Dorothy Davis and Diana Mulka, two FAA employees who were concerned about plaintiff's statements, independently brought copies of the article to Ralph Davis, plaintiff's third-line supervisor. *fn1" Each meeting was brief, and each person expressed general concern about the way other FAA employees might construe plaintiff's alleged remarks. Neither individual was supervised by plaintiff, and, in fact, no one whom plaintiff supervised complained about the statements. Def. Ex. 5, Davis Dep. at 14-18. Dorothy Davis is plaintiff's peer in rank and serves a National President of the National Black Coalition of FAA employees. Def. Statement of Facts P 9; Def. Ex. 5, Davis Dep. at 11-13. Diana Mulka, also plaintiff's peer, is on the Executive Board of the Professional Women Controllers Organization. Def. Statement of Facts P 11; Def. Ex. 5, Davis Dep. at 13-14.

 Ralph Davis read the article during his meeting with Dorothy Davis. Def. Statement of Facts P 10; Def. Ex. 5, Davis Dep. at 15. In her brief meeting with Ralph Davis, Diana Mulka spoke of her "concerns" about people of color who worked with plaintiff at the Chicago Center,

 
Q: Did she say anything else? Ralph Davis: Not that I can recall.
 
Q: Did she explain what she meant about the concerns she would have?
 
A: No.
 
Q: Did you ask her what concerns she ...

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