775 F.2d 1193 (D.C. Cir. 1985), 84-5676, Meadows v. Palmer

Docket Nº:84-5676.
Citation:775 F.2d 1193
Party Name:Dewey F. MEADOWS, Appellant, v. James PALMER, Director, Department of Corrections, et al.
Case Date:November 05, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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775 F.2d 1193 (D.C. Cir. 1985)

Dewey F. MEADOWS, Appellant,

v.

James PALMER, Director, Department of Corrections, et al.

No. 84-5676.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

November 5, 1985

Argued May 15, 1985.

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Civil Action No. 83-00893).

Jean C. Godwin, Washington, D.C., for appellant. Keith A. Rosenberg, Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellant.

Richard B. Nettler, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Washington, D.C., for the District of Columbia, with whom John H. Suda, Principal Deputy Corp. Counsel, and Charles L. Reischel, Deputy Corp. Counsel for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellees.

Before MIKVA, BORK and STARR, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court in Parts I-III filed by Circuit Judge MIKVA.

Opinion for the Court in Part IV filed by Circuit Judge BORK.

Dissent from Part IV filed by Circuit Judge MIKVA.

MIKVA, Circuit Judge:

This case raises questions regarding the jurisdiction of the now extinct Civil Service Commission ("CSC"). On July 5, 1977, Dewey Meadows, a longtime employee of the District of Columbia, was detailed from his position as Chief of the Office of Automatic Data Processing ("ADP") for the Department of Corrections to a position in the Department of Corrections' Office of Resource Management. Following the expiration of the detail, Meadows was ultimately reassigned to the Project Implementation Staff ("PIS") of the Department of Corrections as a Computer Systems Analyst.

Meadows appealed both the detail and the reassignment to the Civil Service Commission. In separate opinions, the CSC determined that it lacked jurisdiction over both appeals: the detail did not constitute an "employment practice," and the reassignment did not constitute a "reduction in rank." The CSC's determinations were appealed to the District Court, which granted summary judgment for appellees.

For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the District Court's grants of summary judgment.

I.

At the time this case began in 1977, Meadows had been a government employee

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for over nineteen years. From 1968 to 1978, he served as the chief of ADP. According to Meadows, efforts began in 1977 to remove him from office or to coerce him into resigning. Two personnel actions were undertaken by Meadows' then-superiors at the Department of Corrections. The first personnel action at issue was a detail within the District of Columbia Department of Corrections from ADP to the Office of Resource Management. A detail is a temporary transfer of an employee from one department to another and is permitted under certain circumstances if procedural requirements, primarily concerning notice, are met.

Under the detail, which began on July 5, 1977, Meadows was to determine analytical requirements and functions of the District of Columbia Department of Personnel. Throughout the detail, Meadows was provided neither staff nor clerical assistance. Meadows appealed the detail to the CSC and filed a grievance with the Department of Corrections, alleging that the detail was procedurally defective and that, because there was no work for Meadows to perform, the detail lacked a proper purpose.

On October 31, 1977, about the time Meadows' detail was to expire, Meadows received notice that he had been reassigned to the PIS as a Computer Systems Analyst, effective November 2, 1977. At the same time, appellees began formal efforts to remove Meadows from the position of chief of ADP. As a result of these actions, Meadows filed suit in D.C.Superior Court (Civil Action No. 11265-77), seeking to enjoin the Department of Corrections from removing him from that position. Subsequently, the reassignment was rescinded, rendering the suit for injunctive relief moot. Meadows' detail was thereafter extended until March 4, 1978.

On January 18, 1978, the District of Columbia denied Meadows' grievance. On March 24, 1978, the CSC dismissed Meadows' appeal of the detail, on the grounds that it did not constitute an employment practice subject to review under Civil Service Regulations.

Upon expiration of the extended detail, Meadows returned to his position as Chief of ADP, where he remained for approximately two and a half weeks. On March 20, 1978, the Notice of Proposed Removal was rescinded and Meadows was simultaneously reassigned to the PIS as a Correctional Programs Systems Coordinator. Meadows appealed the reassignment to the CSC on the basis that it constituted an unlawful reduction in rank. On October 23, 1978 the CSC denied Meadows' appeal, concluding that the reassignment did not constitute a reduction in rank because Meadows' relative standing in the hierarchy of the agency remained unchanged following the reassignment, and he had not been lowered in numerical grade, class or level. Accordingly, the reassignment did not fall within the limited area of "adverse action," and the CSC therefore lacked jurisdiction over the appeal.

Meadows again filed suit in D.C.Superior Court challenging the CSC's disposition as to both the detail and the reassignment. The Superior Court dismissed the complaint, finding that exclusive jurisdiction rested in federal court. Meadows' appealed the dismissal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which on November 24, 1981 affirmed the decision of the Superior Court. Meadows v. Jackson, D.C.App. No. 81-163 (Nov. 24, 1981). Just before the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the reassignment, Meadows was transferred to the Department of Employee Services of the District of Columbia for an indefinite period of time. Meadows continues in that position today and has never challenged that transfer.

On March 29, 1983, Meadows filed a challenge to the CSC's decisions on the detail and the reassignment in the U.S. District Court. The District Court issued separate opinions on each of the personnel decisions, both of which are appealed here. In the first, the District Court granted appellees' motion for summary judgment as to the reassignment, holding that the CSC's decision on this matter was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to

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law. In the second, the District Court granted appellees' motion for summary judgment as to the detail.

II.

At the...

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