332 F.3d 1347 (11th Cir. 2003), 02-13213, Bogle v. McClure

Docket Nº:02-13213
Citation:332 F.3d 1347
Party Name:Bogle v. McClure
Case Date:June 06, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1347

332 F.3d 1347 (11th Cir. 2003)

Janet BOGLE, Sherri Bowers, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

William McCLURE, in his individual capacity and in his official capacity as Chairman of the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library Board of Trustees, Mary Jamerson Ward, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 02-13213.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 6, 2003

Page 1348

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1349

        H. Lane Dennard, Jr., Griffin B. Bell, Lovita T. Tandy, King & Splading, Atlanta, GA, June D. Green, Carmen R. Alexander, Office of the County Attorney, Atlanta, GA, Willie Jake Lovett, Jr., Atlanta, GA, for Defendants-Appellants.

        Kelly Jean Beard, Meadows Ichter & Trigg, P.C., Atlanta, GA, Michael J. Bowers, Christopher Scott Anulewicz, Atlanta, GA, Michael B. Terry, Joshua F. Thorpe, Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

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

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        Before DUBINA and BLACK, Circuit Judges, and RYSKAMP [*], District Judge.

        BLACK, Circuit Judge:

        This case involves claims of race discrimination at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS) brought by Appellees, seven Caucasian female librarians, against Appellants, members of the AFPLS Board of Trustees and the Director of the AFPLS. Appellees (the Librarians) claim Appellants transferred them from their jobs at Central Library to dead-end jobs at branch libraries because of their race. Appellants, however, claimed the transfers were part of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reorganization plan. The jury found for the Librarians. After post-trial motions, judgment was entered in favor of the Librarians for a total of approximately $17 million in compensatory and punitive damages. On appeal, Appellants argue the district court erred by (1) not granting their motion for judgment as a matter of law on the grounds of qualified immunity; (2) not giving their requested jury instruction and interrogatory on a mixed-motive defense; (3) admitting documents into evidence that were protected by the attorney-client privilege; (4) sustaining approximately $3.5 million in compensatory damages for emotional distress; and (5) sustaining approximately $13.3 million in punitive damages.

        I.

        The AFPLS consists of Central Library (Central), the main public library in downtown Atlanta, and more than 30 branch libraries. The AFPLS is governed by a 17-member Board of Trustees (the Board). The Board sets library policy, but is not responsible for the day-to-day management of the library system. Instead, the Board hires a Director who serves as the administrative head of the library system.

        At the time of the transfers at issue in this case, Appellant William McClure was Chairman of the Board. Appellant Benjamin Jenkins was a member of the Board and Chairman of the Board's Personnel Committee. Appellant Mary Jamerson Ward was a member of the Board and a member of the Personnel Committee. Appellant Mary Hooker was Director of AFPLS.

        When Hooker was hired as Director in 1999, she began planning a system-wide reorganization. Hooker testified that, after she was hired, she visited branch libraries, talked to library personnel, reviewed workload reports, analyzed the staffing needs at the libraries, and concluded that the branch libraries needed additional professional librarians. Hooker testified that new technologies would create staffing redundancies at Central while increasing the need for services at the branch libraries. Hooker planned to reorganize the local branch libraries into geographic "clusters" to serve local needs more effectively. Although Hooker never developed a written, comprehensive reorganization plan, she testified she had a plan or vision for how the library was going to be reorganized, she occasionally discussed her ideas with the Board, and the Board generally approved reorganizing to provide more services through the branch libraries.

        Another reoccurring issue for Appellant Board members was the low number of African-American managers at Central. For example, Ward stated the "white dominated administration" at Central was a

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problem and told fellow Board member Nancy Puckett there were "too many white faces" working at Central and it "was not welcoming to black folks to see so many white faces" in Central management. Former Assistant Director of Public Services Paulette Smith-Epps testified McClure asked her what she planned to do about the fact that there was only one African-American manager at Central and McClure's "idea was to move people from Central out to the branches and maybe do a swap and bring some black managers into Central."

        On more than one occasion, Appellant Board members asked for data on the race of managers at Central. In a January 2000 Board meeting, Hooker presented to the Board, in response to their request, a document entitled Branch & Unit Management by Race which contained the names, race, gender, location, and classification of all AFPLS managers. After the Board members discussed this document, McClure concluded that the number of African-American managers at Central was an issue the Board was going to have to address and directed the Personnel Committee to place the issue high on their agenda.

        In an April 11, 2000, meeting of the Personnel Committee, Hooker recommended transferring employees from their jobs at Central to jobs at the branch libraries. Hooker noted that, based on her analysis of the library system, many branch libraries were understaffed while Central library was overstaffed. Some of the Board members expressed concern over reassigning employees before a more complete reorganization plan was developed. Hooker responded that more analysis was needed, but given the need for service in the branches she recommended moving forward with the reassignments. McClure also encouraged the Committee to move forward with the reassignments. In the course of this discussion, Board member Blake stated, "As people are moved or promoted, it gives us a marvelous opportunity for us to look at fairness and representation of ethnic groups wherever they are needed. We have mentioned, from time to time, how many people are at Central in top level positions that are African-Americans." 1 After more discussion on the proposed transfers, the Personnel Committee tabled the issue and decided to meet again on April 19 to continue their discussion.

        In the meantime, Hooker sought advice from the Fulton County Personnel Department. Personnel Manager Paris Brown testified she told Hooker some of the proposed transfers did not appear to conform to Fulton County policy regarding job responsibilities for employment classification. Personnel Director Robert Brandes, however, testified he was not aware of any problems and he simply told Hooker "to be cognizant of the fact when you move people or transfer people, you have to be sure that their duties and responsibilities will not have a potential negative effect on the [job] classification."

        On April 13, 2000, Hooker wrote a memo to McClure regarding the proposed transfers. She stated, "Because the potential for significant problems was identified by [the Fulton County] Personnel [Department], I recommend that the Personnel Committee of the Board of Trustees refrain from advancing the re-organization until each transfer and re-assignment is reviewed and evaluated. Significant legal ramifications could be present...." Hooker specifically mentioned certain staff members "must maintain the same level of

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responsibility in their new assignments as at their previous assignments." Hooker also stated, "The objectivity of the selection process for the staff to be re-assigned has not been determined. According to Fulton County, transfers are customarily done laterally. This would not be the case in this re-organization because levels of responsibility would not remain the same."

        On the same day, Hooker sent to the Board members newspaper articles about several recent discrimination cases brought by Caucasian employees against Fulton County. One article described an Eleventh Circuit decision upholding a jury's finding that the Fulton County Sheriff and her department engaged in racial discrimination, but reducing the damages the jury awarded the 16 Caucasian deputies. Another article described the settlement of a lawsuit against Fulton County involving allegations that an employee was passed over for a salary increase because he was Caucasian while another worker, who was African-American, received a pay hike. A third article described Fulton County's settlement of an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a Caucasian firefighter. According to Hooker, she sent these articles to the Board in response to an anonymous email asking her to share the information with the Board, and it was not connected to the proposed transfers.

        On April 14, 2000, Hooker talked to June Green of the Fulton County Attorney's Office about whether the proposed transfers would violate Fulton County personnel policies. On April 17, 2000, Green wrote a memorandum to Hooker, with copies to McClure, stating:

In [our] conversation you advised me that you had spoken to Bob Brandes of the Fulton County Personnel Department, and he advised you that the reorganization that has been proposed by the Library Board of Trustees will likely violate Fulton County Personnel Policies and Procedures. You specifically mentioned race, age and gender discrimination and unfair demotion. Although you asked for some legal guidance, I advised you that it would be hard to give legal advice in a vacuum and that you should put your concerns in writing and attach a copy of the...

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