207 F.3d 1303 (11th Cir. 2000), 97-8189, Alexander v Fulton County Georgia

Docket Nº:97-8189.
Citation:207 F.3d 1303
Party Name:A.M. ALEXANDER, Charles Alexander, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA; Jacquelyn H. Barrett, Individually and in her Official Capacity as Sheriff of Fulton County, Georgia, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:March 30, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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207 F.3d 1303 (11th Cir. 2000)

A.M. ALEXANDER, Charles Alexander, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA; Jacquelyn H. Barrett, Individually and in her Official

Capacity as Sheriff of Fulton County, Georgia, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 97-8189.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

March 30, 2000

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Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Before ANDERSON, Chief Judge, MARCUS, Circuit Judge, and HANCOCK[*], Senior District Judge.

MARCUS, Circuit Judge:

This case involves various claims of race discrimination brought by eighteen current and former Fulton County Sheriff's Department employees individually and on behalf of all similarly situated white employees of the Sheriff's Department against Fulton County, Georgia and Sheriff Jacquelyn H. Barrett, in her official and individual capacities (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiffs sued Fulton County and Sheriff Barrett alleging that Fulton County maintained a "policy or custom" of racial discrimination in employment decisions, that Fulton County and the Sheriff's Department engaged in a "pattern or practice" of employment discrimination, and specifically that Fulton County and Sheriff Barrett intentionally discriminated on the basis of race with respect to discipline, promotions, transfers, reclassifications, promotional examinations, restorations of rank, and appointments to unclassified positions. Defendants now appeal from a jury verdict entered for most of the Plaintiffs finding that Fulton County maintained a policy or custom of discrimination against white employees and that Sheriff Barrett intentionally discriminated against white employees. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I.

In September 1993, Plaintiffs1 filed their complaint as a class action alleging a "pattern or practice" of employment discrimination against white personnel of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department in the

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terms and conditions of employment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981,2 42 U.S.C. § 1983,3 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.4 In April 1994, the district court, finding the requisite numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation, certified under Rule 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure the following class:5

All present and future sworn white employees of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department and all past sworn white employees who allege discriminatory acts by Defendants within the applicable statute of limitations.

On June 12, 1996, after an extended trial, the jury awarded damages to fifteen of the eighteen Plaintiffs and the district court entered judgment.6 On July 8, 1996, Plaintiffs moved to amend the judgment, requesting injunctive relief and back pay, and, on July 10, 1996, the district court vacated the judgment. Thereafter, the district court entered a modified judgment for damages, backpay, individual equitable relief, and class-based injunctive relief.

The jury verdict and final judgment included the following for each Plaintiff:

1. Major A.M. Alexander-The jury found that the Defendants had discriminated against Alexander with respect to

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assignments or transfers and that he had been disciplined in whole or in part because of his race. The jury awarded Alexander $125,000 in compensatory damages against both Fulton County and Sheriff Barrett and $25,000 in punitive damages against Sheriff Barrett for discriminatory assignments or transfers. The jury also awarded Alexander $2,800 in back pay, an additional $125,000 in compensatory damages against Fulton County and Sheriff Barrett, and $25,000 in punitive damages against Sheriff Barrett for his suspension. The district court also ordered that the record of disciplinary action against Alexander be expunged from his Sheriff's Department file.

2. Sergeant Charles "Tony" Alexander-The jury awarded Charles Alexander $15,000 in compensatory damages because of Sheriff Barrett's failure to restore Alexander's rank after his voluntary demotion from sergeant to deputy. The district court ordered the Defendants to recalculate Alexander's retirement benefits and other employee benefits to reflect any changes that would have occurred had his rank been restored.

3. Sergeant Joseph Bantin-The jury found in favor of Bantin on his claims that Sheriff Barrett did not consider him for appointment to the unclassified7 positions of captain or major on account of his race, and that he was not permitted to compete in the promotional process for the rank of classified lieutenant, also because of race. Finally, the jury returned a verdict for the Defendants on Bantin's claim that he had not been considered for reclassification because of his race. The jury awarded Bantin $10,000 in compensatory and $5,000 in punitive damages based on its finding of discrimination against Bantin in the promotional process.

4. Sergeant Billy Bolt-The jury found that Bolt was wrongfully not appointed to the classified position of lieutenant in June 1993 because of his race and awarded him $20,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitive damages. The district court also entered an award of $1,000.98 in back pay and ordered the Defendants to reclassify Bolt as a lieutenant providing him with the pay grade, employee benefits, and seniority he would have achieved had he been appointed to the rank of classified lieutenant on June 1, 1993.

5. Sergeant Denise Brooks-The jury found that Brooks was not selected for appointment to the unclassified positions of captain or major due to her race. The jury concluded that Brooks should have been appointed as an unclassified captain in June 1993 and awarded her $10,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. The jury also found that she was discriminated against with respect to assignments or transfers and awarded her an additional $25,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitive damages. The district court also ordered the Defendants to provide Brooks with the pay grade, employee benefits, and seniority she would have achieved had she been appointed to captain on June 1, 1993.

6. Lieutenant Robert Fox-The jury found that Fox was not appointed to the position of unclassified captain in March 1993 and was transferred to a position in the Jail against his will in 1994 because of race. The jury awarded Fox $20,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages on his failure to promote

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claim. It awarded him an additional $50,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages on his discriminatory assignment or transfer claim. The district court ordered the Defendants to recalculate Fox's retirement and other benefits as if he had been appointed to an unclassified captain position on March 1, 1993.

7. Captain Gary Gettis-The jury found that Gettis was not appointed to the unclassified positions of captain or major due to his race. The jury concluded that in the absence of discrimination, Gettis would have been appointed to an unclassified captain position in June 1993, and awarded him $10,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. The district court also awarded Gettis $2,290.59 in back pay, the amount he would have received had he been appointed to an unclassified captain position in June 1993, and ordered the Defendants to recalculate Gettis' retirement and other employee benefits as if he had been appointed to an unclassified captain position on June 1, 1993.

8. Corporal Sara Henderson-The jury found that Henderson was not considered for appointment to the unclassified positions of captain or major on account of her race. However, the jury found against Henderson on her claim that she was denied promotions to the positions of classified corporal and sergeant in 1993 because of race. The jury did not award her any damages.

9. Sergeant Kathy Jones-The jury found that Jones was denied transfers outside the Jail because of race and awarded her $10,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitive damages. The district court declined to award injunctive relief to Jones.

10. Lieutenant Carolyn Masson-The jury found that Masson was not considered or selected for appointment to the unclassified positions of captain or major due to her race and that she was also discriminated against with regard to assignments or transfers because of her race. As for not selecting her to an unclassified position, the jury concluded that Masson should have been appointed to an unclassified captain position in June 1993 and awarded her $10,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. As for its findings concerning the assignments or transfers, the jury awarded Masson an additional $50,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. The district court also awarded Masson $5,412.99 in back pay to compensate her for wages she would have received had she been appointed to the position of unclassified captain in June 1993. The court also ordered the Defendants to provide Masson with the pay grade, employee benefits, and seniority she would have earned had she been appointed to the position of captain on June 1, 1993.

11. Corporal Donnie McBee-Although the jury found for McBee on...

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