482 F.3d 1023 (8th Cir. 2007), 06-2553, Tipler v. Douglas County, Nebraska

Docket Nº:06-2553.
Citation:482 F.3d 1023
Party Name:Deana TIPLER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DOUGLAS COUNTY, NEBRASKA; Robert Houston, Director of Douglas County Corrections, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:April 12, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1023

482 F.3d 1023 (8th Cir. 2007)

Deana TIPLER, Plaintiff-Appellant,


DOUGLAS COUNTY, NEBRASKA; Robert Houston, Director of Douglas County Corrections, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 06-2553.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

April 12, 2007

Submitted: Dec. 14, 2006.

Page 1024

Amy S. Jorgensen, argued, Omaha, NE, for appellant.

Angela M. Boyer, argued, Omaha, NE, for appellees.

Before BYE, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

BENTON, Circuit Judge.

Deanna N. Tipler sued Robert P. Houston and Douglas County, Nebraska, alleging gender discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. The district court 1 granted the defendants summary judgment. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.


Tipler, a female, began working as a correctional officer I at the County correctional center in September 2002. She worked the B shift. There were three shifts: the A shift (11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.), B shift (7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), and C shift (3:00 p.m. to 11:00p.m.). Twice a year, employees submit their first and second choices for the next six months.

A shift-bid was held, effective for July 2003. Tipler requested the B shift first, and the A shift second. Based solely on seniority, Tipler would have continued on the B shift. The bid results, however, did not produce the minimum number of female officers to supervise the female inmates. As a result, Tipler and eight other officers (four females and four males) were reassigned.

The five least senior females on the B shift (including Tipler) were moved to the A or C shift. Tipler ended up with her second choice, the A shift. The four least senior males were reassigned from the A shift to the B or C shift. Three of the four males had greater seniority than Tipler.

Tipler worked the A shift for three months. She claims the shift change caused her to suffer headaches, work more overtime, spend less time with her children, and pay increased medical and childcare costs.

In September 2003, due to the hiring of more female officers, Tipler was moved to

Page 1025

her first choice, the B shift. She received her first choice for each shift afterwards. She was promoted to corrections officer II in May 2005.

Tipler sued the County (and its corrections director Houston in his official capacity) alleging gender discrimination based on the County's "facially discriminatory staffing policies." The district court found that the County had a reasonable gender-based job assignment policy, and that Tipler "failed to establish any right to a particular shift assignment or that the assignment resulted in more than a minimum restriction on her employment." The court granted the County summary judgment.


This court reviews de novo the grant of summary judgment, viewing the record most favorably to the non-moving party. See McClure v. Career Sys. Dev. Corp., 447 F.3d 1133, 1135 (8th Cir.2006); Cremona v. R.S. Bacon Veneer Co., 433 F.3d 617, 619 (8th Cir.2006). Summary judgment is appropriate if the record shows "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.56(c); Knowles v. Citicorp Mortgage, Inc., 142 F.3d 1082, 1085 (8th Cir.1998)


"Title VII has made an employer's discrimination against an employee on the basis of sex an unlawful employment practice." Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., 130 F.3d 1287, 1301 n. 20 (8th Cir.1997); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). The County "acknowledges that Appellant's gender was a factor in moving her to a different shift." An employer may treat employees different based on the gender when it is "bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business." See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(e).

Where the employer is a prison, a bona fide occupational qualification analysis is unnecessary if (1) the policy requiring female-only supervision of female inmates is reasonable, and (2) such a policy imposes only a "minimal restriction" on the employee. See Tharp v. Iowa Dep't of Corrections, 68 F.3d 223, 225, 226, 227 (8th Cir.1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1135, 116 S.Ct. 1420, 134 L.Ed.2d 545 (1996); Robino v. Iranon, 145 F.3d 1109, 1110 (9th Cir.1998) ("The policy limits eligibility for such a small number of positions (six out of forty-one) that it imposes such a de minimus restriction on the male [correctional officers'] employment opportunities that it is unnecessary to decide whether gender is a BFOQ for the few positions affected").

This case is controlled by Tharp. There, the prison adopted a policy assigning only women guards to the female unit. Two males, with the greatest job seniority, bid to work the female unit. They lost to women guards with less seniority. The men sued, arguing the gender-based policy violated Title VII. This court found that the gender-based policy was reasonable: it "addresses female inmate privacy concerns, improves the Facility's rehabilitative services to female inmates, and advances the interests of female employees." Tharp, 68 F.3d at 226. This court next determined that "the policy of same-sex assignments to the Facility's women's unit was a minimal restriction on plaintiffs' employment." Id. This court, balancing the reasonableness of the policy against the restriction on employment, held that there was no violation of Title VII. Id. 2

Page 1026

In this case, the reassignment policy is reasonable. Nebraska Revised Statute § 47-111 provides: "In every county jail where there is a female prisoner, twenty-four-hour supervision shall be provided by a matron appointed by the county board, whose duty it shall be to have entire charge of the female prisoners." Nebraska law establishes the Jail Standards Board, which has adopted "Minimum Jail Standards for Adult Jail Facilities, Title 81 Regulations," which include in chapter 2:

004.02A Female employees shall provide around-the-clock supervision of all female inmates housed in a jail facility.

004.02B The facility administrator shall insure that inmates are viewed personally by facility employees often enough to maintain their safekeeping, but in no event less than one time per hour and document it.

Jail standard 006.01C requires that all body cavity, pat, and strip searches shall be conducted by employees of the same sex as the inmate. The County, in its care, lodging, safekeeping and security of male and female inmates, must comply with the jail standards.

A collective bargaining agreement between the County and the Fraternal Order of Police covers the correctional officers' employment. By the agreement, shift assignments are controlled by seniority, "except where Nebraska State law and the Nebraska jail...

To continue reading