172 F.3d 863 (4th Cir. 1999), 98-1110, McNair v. Computer Data Systems, Inc.

Docket Nº:98-1110.
Citation:172 F.3d 863
Party Name:Diane P. MCNAIR, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COMPUTER DATA SYSTEMS, INCORPORATED (CDSI), Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:January 26, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 863

172 F.3d 863 (4th Cir. 1999)

Diane P. MCNAIR, Plaintiff-Appellant,



No. 98-1110.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

January 26, 1999

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 (See FI CTA4 Rule 36 regarding use of unpublished opinions)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 Dec. 2, 1998.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Aiken, CA-94-3509-1-6BC; Charles E. Simons, Jr., Senior District Judge.

John Paul Batson, Augusta, Georgia, for Appellant.

Kathryn Thomas, Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

William Sussman, Augusta, Georgia, for Appellant. Stephen T. Savitz, Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

Before HAMILTON, LUTTIG, and KING, Circuit Judges.



Plaintiff-appellant Diane McNair appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina granting summary judgment to the defendant-appellee Computer Data Systems, Inc., on her Title VII claims of racial and sexual discrimination and retaliation. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


In 1991, Computer Data Systems, Inc. (CDSI) hired Diane McNair, a black female, for the position of Senior Systems Engineer. CDSI had previously been contracted by the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide automated data processing support to a number of federal government agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE) at its Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. McNair was assigned to the DOE Help Desk Support task, a nine-member team charged with providing computer assistance to DOE end-users at the Savannah River Site. Pursuant to CDSI's contract with GSA, each employee was assigned a GSA contract title and skill level that together determined the rate at which CDSI billed GSA for the services of that employee. Because the GSA contract titles were based solely on the needs of the individual subscribing federal agency, they did not necessarily reflect the employees' actual titles with CDSI. That is to say, each employee's compensation and terms of employment with the company were determined without respect to the GSA contract title to which he might at any one time be assigned.

During negotiations in late 1993 to extend CDSI's commitment to provide Help Desk support to DOE systems users, CDSI submitted a new staffing proposal, modified at the behest of DOE representative Joe Kleshick to reflect more accurately the support functions the company was actually performing at the Savannah River Site. As a result of the agreed-upon reorganization, one "senior software engineer" slot--the contract title to which McNair had until that point been assigned--was replaced with the lower contract title of "software system programmer/analyst," thus reducing the cost to GSA of the company's services. Explaining that her compensation, duties, and terms of employment with CDSI would not be affected by the change, McNair's supervisors reassigned her to the newly created "software system programmer/analyst" contract title.

Unhappy with the switch in her contract title and unsatisfied by the company's explanations, McNair wrote a letter to DOE Human Resources Contractor Relations department dated November 2, 1993, inquiring as to why her contract title had been changed. DOE officials notified representatives of both CDSI and GSA of McNair's letter, and began an investigation into her concerns about the manner in which her contract title had been changed. On November 5, 1993, three days after McNair's initial letter to DOE, George Peacock, a Group Manager at CDSI, met with McNair and instructed her that any future grievances should be brought in a proper forum, and that she was not to communicate further with DOE, CDSI's client, about this matter. In spite of these explicit instructions not to communicate with DOE, McNair spoke to a DOE investigator on November 15 and wrote a follow-up letter on November 17. On January 6, 1994, she met personally with the Director of DOE's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.

In early February, McNair's direct supervisor, Alan Wingard, assigned her the project of organizing all DOE software for the purpose of identifying and destroying software that was obsolete. In anticipation of a planned move to a new site, Wingard gave McNair nine days to complete the task. McNair argued with Wingard about the feasibility of the project, fell behind, and ultimately suffered a severe asthma attack before the project was completed. As a result of that attack, appellant was absent from work for three weeks, during which time she refused to comply with the company's recently adopted call-in procedures for sick employees. When she returned to work on March 14, McNair was relieved from her Help Desk duties so that she could pack her office for the scheduled move, as her co-workers had done in her absence. Despite being given more than two full days to complete a packing job each of her co-workers had finished in one, McNair did not have her office ready when the movers arrived as scheduled on March 16, and in fact was not even present at the appointed time. Two days later, on March 18, Project Manager Chuck Gillespie issued McNair a written Reprimand/Warning for violating CDSI policy with respect to the call-in procedures, failing to complete the move to a new building in a timely fashion, being away from her work area without authorization for two hours on the day of the move, and failing to follow her supervisor's instructions.

In April, 1994, just over a month after she received this reprimand, McNair...

To continue reading