218 F.3d 915 (8th Cir. 2000), 99-2956, Clark v. Runyon

Docket Nº:99-2956
Citation:218 F.3d 915
Party Name:APRIL M. CLARK, APPELLANT, v. MARVIN T. RUNYON, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, APPELLEE.
Case Date:July 27, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 915

218 F.3d 915 (8th Cir. 2000)

APRIL M. CLARK, APPELLANT,

v.

MARVIN T. RUNYON, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, APPELLEE.

No. 99-2956

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 27, 2000

Submitted: June 15, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

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Before Muprhy, Heaney and Magill, Circuit Judges.

Magill, Circuit Judge.

April Clark filed suit against the United States Postal Service (USPS), alleging racial discrimination in violation of Title VII. After a six-day trial, the jury deliberated for fifty-five minutes and found for the USPS; however, Clark's motion for a new trial was granted. In the second trial, Clark waived her right to a jury trial, and the district court 1 proceeded with a bench trial. The district court granted the USPS motion for judgment as a matter of law. Clark appeals the waiver of the right to a jury trial and the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law. We AFFIRM.

I.

Clark, an African-American woman, was a mail clerk for the USPS from 1985 until June 24, 1996. On that date, two supervisors, Michael Tiemann and Enid Walters, fired Clark for violations of the USPS anti-violence policy, known as the "zero-tolerance" policy. The termination was a direct result of an altercation Clark had with white employees on March 27, 1996.

Clark has a long history of problems with the USPS. In 1993, Clark was hospitalized against her will by her own psychiatrist

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because Clark had verbally and physically assaulted a number of her co-workers. In 1994, Clark was disciplined for throwing a package at a fellow USPS employee and threatening another with bodily harm. 2 Again, in 1994, Clark was disciplined for punching a fellow employee. In 1995 Clark left her employment with the USPS. After a union grievance was filed, Clark returned to work on March 7, 1996. In order to facilitate a fresh start, Clark was assigned to the Annex, a separate facility on the outskirts of Minneapolis.

At the Annex, Clark worked with six temporary employees, five of whom happened to be white. Shortly after starting at the Annex, Clark began to complain about the music played by some of the white employees. On both March 19 and March 21, Clark complained to her fellow employees about their choice of music, and, on the second date, took matters into her own hands and turned off the radio. At this point, Tiemann informed Clark that there was zero tolerance for threats or violence, and that if Clark threatened another employee she would be terminated.

On March 27, 1996, Clark got into a heated...

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