Bundy v. Jackson

Citation641 F.2d 934,205 App.D.C. 444
Decision Date12 January 1981
Docket NumberNo. 79-1693,79-1693
Parties24 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1155, 24 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 31,439, 205 U.S.App.D.C. 444 Sandra G. BUNDY, Appellant, v. Delbert JACKSON, Director, D.C. Department of Corrections.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)

Barry H. Gottfried, Washington, D. C., with whom Arthur D. Chotin and Arthur Kahn, New York City, were on the brief, for appellant.

Leo N. Gorman, Asst. Corp. Counsel for the District of Columbia, Washington, D. C., with whom Judith W. Rogers, Corp. Counsel, and Richard W. Barton, Deputy Corporation Counsel, Washington, D. C., were on the brief, for appellee. Margaret L. Hines, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Washington, D. C., also entered an appearance for appellee.

Vella M. Fink, Atty., E. E. O. C., for amicus curiae Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, urging reversal. Beatrice Rosenberg, Asst. General Counsel, and Marilyn S. G. Urwitz, Atty., E. E. O. C., Washington, D. C., were on the brief for amicus curiae Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Linda F. Thome, Washington, D. C., was on the brief for amicus curiae Women's Legal Defense Fund, urging reversal.

Before J. SKELLY WRIGHT, Chief Judge, and SWYGERT * and ROBINSON, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the court filed by Chief Judge J. SKELLY WRIGHT.

J. SKELLY WRIGHT, Chief Judge:

In Barnes v. Costle, 561 F.2d 983 (D.C. Cir.1977), we held that an employer who abolished a female employee's job to retaliate against the employee's resistance of his sexual advances violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1976 & Supp. III 1979). The appellant in this case asserts some claims encompassed by the Barnes decision, arguing that her rejection of unsolicited and offensive sexual advances from several supervisors in her agency caused those supervisors unjustifiably to delay and block promotions to which she was entitled. Equally important, however, appellant asks us to extend Barnes by holding that an employer violates Title VII merely by subjecting female employees to sexual harassment, even if the employee's resistance to that harassment does not cause the employer to deprive her of any tangible job benefits.

The District Court in this case made an express finding of fact that in appellant's agency "the making of improper sexual advances to female employees (was) standard operating procedure, a fact of life, a normal condition of employment," Finding of Fact No. 38, Appellant's Appendix (App.) 15, and that the director of the agency, to whom she complained of the harassment, failed to investigate her complaints or take them seriously, id. No. 44, App. 16. Nevertheless, the District Court refused to grant appellant any declaratory or injunctive relief, concluding that sexual harassment does not in itself represent discrimination "with respect to * * * terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" within the meaning of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) (1976). Further, the court denied appellant's request for back pay to compensate for the allegedly improper delay in her promotion to GS-9, and for elevation to GS-11 and back pay for the delay in that promotion, holding that the employer had independent, legitimate reasons for delaying and denying the promotions.

Because we believe the District Court wrongly construed Title VII on the claim for declaratory and injunctive relief and failed to apply the proper burden of proof analysis to the promotion claims, we reverse. 1

I. BACKGROUND

Appellant Sandra Bundy is now, and was at the time she filed her lawsuit, a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, level GS-9, with the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (the agency). Bundy began with the agency as a GS-4 Personnel Clerk in 1970, was promoted to GS-5 that same year, and became a GS-6 Staffing Technician in the Personnel Department in 1973. After training as a technician in employment staffing, she became a GS-7 Employment Development Specialist (the predecessor classification to Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist) in 1974, and achieved her current GS-9 level in 1976, one year after she filed her formal complaint of sexual harassment with the agency. In recent years Bundy's chief task has been to find jobs for former criminal offenders.

The District Court's finding that sexual intimidation was a "normal condition of employment" in Bundy's agency finds ample support in the District Court's own chronology of Bundy's experiences there. Those experiences began in 1972 when Bundy, still a GS-5, received and rejected sexual propositions from Delbert Jackson, then a fellow employee at the agency but now its Director and the named defendant in this lawsuit in his official capacity. Findings of Fact Nos. 28-29, App. 11-12. It was two years later, however, that the sexual intimidation Bundy suffered began to intertwine directly with her employment, when she received propositions from two of her supervisors, Arthur Burton and James Gainey.

Burton became Bundy's supervisor when Bundy became an Employment Development Specialist in 1974. Shortly thereafter Gainey became her first-line supervisor and Burton her second-line supervisor, although Burton retained control of Bundy's employment status. Id. Nos. 32-33, App. 12. Burton began sexually harassing Bundy in June 1974, continually calling her into his office to request that she spend the workday afternoon with him at his apartment and to question her about her sexual proclivities. Id. No. 34, App. 12-13. 2 Shortly after becoming her first-line supervisor Gainey also began making sexual advances to Bundy, asking her to join him at a motel and on a trip to the Bahamas. Id. No. 35, App. 13-14. Bundy complained about these advances to Lawrence Swain, who supervised both Burton and Gainey. Swain casually dismissed Bundy's complaints, telling her that "any man in his right mind would want to rape you," id. No. 37, App. 14, and then proceeding himself to request that she begin a sexual relationship with him in his apartment. Id. No. 36, App. 14. Bundy rejected his request.

We add that, although the District Court made no explicit findings as to harassment of other female employees, its finding that harassment was "standard operating procedure" finds ample support in record evidence that Bundy was not the only woman subjected to sexual intimidation by male supervisors. 3

In denying Bundy any relief, the District Court found that Bundy's supervisors did not take the "game" of sexually propositioning female employees "seriously," and that Bundy's rejection of their advances did not evoke in them any motive to take any action against her. Id. No. 38, App. 15. The record, however, contains nothing to support this view, and indeed some evidence directly belies it. For example, after Bundy complained to Swain, Burton began to derogate her for alleged malingering and poor work performance, though she had not previously received any such criticism. App. 30. Burton also arranged a meeting with Bundy and Gainey to discuss Bundy's alleged abuse of leave, though he did not pursue his charges at this meeting. App. 94-95.

Beyond these actions, Bundy's supervisors at least created the impression that they were impeding her promotion because she had offended them, and they certainly did nothing to help her pursue her harassment claims through established channels. Bundy became eligible for promotion to GS-9 in January 1975. App. 178. When she contacted Gainey to inquire about a promotion he referred her to Burton, who then referred her back to Gainey, who then told her that because of a promotion freeze he could not recommend her for a promotion. App. 41-43. One month later, however, Bundy learned that the personnel office had indeed recommended other employees for promotion despite the freeze. App. 44. Bundy then informally consulted an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer who was working in her office, and then requested a meeting with Claude Burgin, Swain's supervisor. On February 18, 1975 Bundy met with Burton and Burgin and told the latter that Burton and Gainey had sexually harassed her and denied her a promotion because she had resisted their advances. Burgin simply responded that she was denied the promotion because her work was unsatisfactory, and that she was free to pursue the matter further if she cared to. App. 46-48. Bundy then informally complained about the sexual harassment to Aquila Gilmore, the Chief EEO Officer in the agency. Gilmore, however, simply advised that her charges might be difficult to prove, and cautioned her against bringing unwarranted complaints. He never brought the issue to the attention of Delbert Jackson, by then Director of the agency. App. 187-190.

On April 11, 1975 Bundy met with Jackson and showed him the draft of a letter summarizing her complaint. Jackson then arranged an April 14 meeting with Burgin, Burton, and Bundy, Finding of Fact No. 39, App. 14, but Gilmore, who had become Chief of Manpower Management at the agency, and Charles Rogers, Assistant Director of Operations, also attended the meeting. Bundy, purportedly embarrassed at the unexpected presence of the latter two men, did not take the opportunity of discussing her sexual harassment claims at this meeting, nor did Jackson or Gilmore raise the issue. Instead, the meeting focused on Bundy's possible promotion and her alleged work deficiencies. Id. No. 40, App. 15-16. On April 23 Gainey and Burton completed a memorandum offering Bundy's inadequate work performance as the reason for denying her a promotion to GS-9. Plaintiff's Exh. 2, Appellant's Supplemental Appendix (SA) 217. Bundy responded to this memorandum, arguing that her supervisors had never presented her with any written criticism of her performance until she raised the harassment issue. See App. 145-148. 4

Bundy proceeded to pursue her complaint beyond her immediate supervisors. She...

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