brief until the new brief was completed. On June 13, 1983,
plaintiff submitted a design plan during a meeting with Cronin,
Dr. Robert Sutter, and another FAND employee. Cronin accepted the
design structure and deadlines proposed by plaintiff. The
following schedule was adopted: (1) July 25 — status review; (2)
July 27 to August 5 — division office review; (3) August 8 to
August 12 — front office review; and (4) September 1 — delivery
to the client.
Dr. Robert Sutter replaced Cronin as plaintiff's supervisor
while Cronin was temporarily detailed to the State Department in
mid-June of 1983. From June through July, plaintiff assured
Sutter that her project was proceeding well, and both Sutter and
plaintiff testified that she did not request any help or
extensions of the July 25 deadline. When Sutter and plaintiff met
at the end of July to discuss her project, however, plaintiff had
completed only a few paragraphs of her draft. At that meeting,
she informed Sutter that she would be taking a couple of days of
annual leave. Sutter extended plaintiff's deadline to August 17,
1983. They met again on August 22, 1983, at which time plaintiff
informed him that she had not produced a draft.
Sutter issued a written warning dated August 31, 1983,
informing plaintiff that her failure to complete the China issue
brief — despite having no other specific assignments for the
preceding two and a half months — was unacceptable, and that a
failure to present a satisfactory draft within 30 days could
result in an adverse action, possibly including separation.
Plaintiff received the written warning on September 1, 1983.
B. September Denial of Annual Leave
Later that same day (September 1, 1983), plaintiff requested
approximately four weeks of annual leave to sell her house, which
was denied.*fn6 On September 6, 1983, Sutter again denied
plaintiff's request, this time made by her union steward, for
annual leave or a 30-day extension for completion of the China
issue brief.*fn7 Sutter convincingly testified that he denied
plaintiff's request for annual leave because he believed that
granting her request would undercut the seriousness of the
written warning he had just issued regarding her missed
deadlines. Sutter also persuasively testified that completing the
China issue brief was a top priority because the rapidly changing
U.S.-China relationship had created a heavy demand for the brief,
and that granting approximately a month of annual leave would
unacceptably delay its completion. Plaintiff disputes that the
China issue brief was in heavy demand because she personally
few requests for it.*fn8 The Court finds that Sutter, as a
supervisor, was in a far better position to know the overall
demand for FAND's work products.
C. Recommendation of Separation
On the last day of the warning period, September 30, 1983,
plaintiff submitted her draft of the China issue brief to Cronin,
who by then had returned as her supervisor. He immediately
reviewed her draft and found it to be utterly unacceptable;
Cronin concluded that plaintiff's draft was confusing, did not
comply with the structural requirements of the style guide,
failed to reference Congressional issues, and contained very
little policy analysis. Cronin also sought Sutter's opinion (who
was on temporary assignment outside of the Library of Congress);
he agreed that plaintiff's effort was unsatisfactory. On the same
day he received the draft, Cronin orally informed plaintiff of
his intent to recommend her separation. He reiterated that
position in writing on October 5, 1983. Cronin convincingly
testified that he recommended separation rather than a lesser
[T]his was one more milestone in what had been a very
long and very painful process of trying to get Dr.
Christopher to be responsive to her duties. . . .
[H]ad I accepted that draft as a beginning point for
further work on her part, . . . the cycle would have
continued, of delay, failure to perform on schedule.
. . . I just was not prepared to go through that
cycle again. I had been through two cycles of oral
warning, written warning[,] oral warning, written
warning. And the first cycle, I had removed the
warning before Dr. Christopher actually fulfilled all
of the requirements that were laid down. And I did
that, trying to recognize that there had been
improvement in her performance, and that she had
accomplished some specific assignments.
By the end of this second cycle of oral warnings and
written warnings, it was clear to me that Dr.
Christopher, in my own mind, anyway, would only do
what was either absolutely required to protect her
interest in her job in the most minimal way, or what
she thought in her own mind that it was important for
her to do. But that it was — to me it was just a
hopeless task of trying to . . . get her to assume
her responsibilities and to take responsibility for
her own . . . job.
May 22, 1997, Tr. at 41-42. Furthermore, Cronin believed, as did
Sutter, that it was important to maintain a current version of
the China issue brief and that plaintiff's failure either to
draft a new brief or to maintain the old one could damage FAND's