151 F.3d 1030 (4th Cir. 1998), 97-1981, Phillips v. Babbitt

Docket Nº:97-1981.
Citation:151 F.3d 1030
Party Name:Helen L. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Bruce BABBITT, Secretary, United States Department of The Interior, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:June 05, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 1030

151 F.3d 1030 (4th Cir. 1998)

Helen L. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Bruce BABBITT, Secretary, United States Department of The Interior, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 97-1981.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 5, 1998

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA4 Rule 36 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Argued: March 4, 1998

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, at Statesville. Carl Horn, III, Chief Magistrate Judge. (CA-95-131)

Patricia Ann Bellasalma, Los Angeles, California, for Appellant. James Michael Sullivan, Assistant United States Attorney, Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF: Mark T. Calloway, United States Attorney, Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellee.

Before HAMILTON and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and BROADWATER, United States District Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia, sitting by designation.



Helen L. Phillips (Phillips) brought suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended) 1 against Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior (the Secretary), as head of the National Park Service. Phillips alleged, inter alia, that she was subjected to discrimination by a federal employee on the basis of sex. Phillips began employment as a park ranger in 1990. She claims that she was disparately treated on account of her sex and that she was subjected to hostile environment sexual harassment by an intermittent supervisor, M. Terry Morris (Morris). Phillips alleged a series of discriminatory actions by Morris which extended over a period of years. During the administrative process, the Secretary agreed that some of Morris' actions were viewed as discriminatory. As a result, the parties also agreed that appropriate action was taken against Morris. However, due to continuing violations by Morris, Phillips eventually filed the underlying lawsuit.

The parties consented to have the matter proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge in April 1996. 2 The Secretary filed a motion entitled "Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment." Phillips opposed the motion. After review, the magistrate judge granted the Secretary's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case with prejudice on the grounds that Phillips failed to exhaust administrative remedies available to her under the applicable statutes relating to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Phillips appeals this decision. Finding that the magistrate judge correctly granted the Secretary's motion, we affirm.


The facts surrounding Phillips' claims are as follows. Phillips began employment in 1987 as a part-time seasonal employee. She eventually acquired full-time status in 1990. Phillips was assigned as a full-time park ranger to the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. Phillips' allegations arose from conflicts experienced with her colleague and intermittent supervisor Morris.

Phillips filed two complaints with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) counselor during her tenure as a park ranger. On September 21, 1993, Phillips complained that Morris discriminated against her on the basis of sex. Apparently, three days prior, Morris assigned a male employee to direct traffic during a bicycle race when she was assigned to work at a kiosk collecting money from campers. On October 29, 1993, the parties entered into an "Informal Resolution Agreement" in which Morris was formally warned against discriminatory treatment toward Phillips. The supervising ranger who had promulgated the warning included several prior incidents in which he believed Morris discriminated against Phillips in her employment. 3

On November 25, 1993, Morris requested that a male park ranger respond to an arson incident on park property rather than calling Phillips to respond. (J.A. at 502.) Phillips subsequently withdrew from the Informal Resolution Agreement. On December 10, 1993, Phillips' initial administrative complaint, encompassing both the kiosk/traffic incident and the arson incident, was formally filed under docket number FNP-94-034. (J.A. at 496-97.)

Again, the Park Service responded and declared that Morris' actions were clearly and unequivocally discriminatory toward Phillips. Morris was...

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