Grove v. Frostburg Nat. Bank

Decision Date22 April 1982
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. J-79-516.
PartiesSheila D. GROVE, Janice K. Vought and Judith Ann Walker, Plaintiffs, v. FROSTBURG NATIONAL BANK, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland




Emily Rody, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiffs.

Joseph K. Pokempner, Russell H. Gardner, Baltimore, Md., for defendant.


SHIRLEY B. JONES, District Judge.

Sheila D. Grove, Janice K. Vought and Judith Ann Walker filed this action on May 14, 1979 under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act against Frostburg National Bank (the Bank). They alleged that the Bank discriminated against them on the basis of sex in its policies on pay and benefits, promotions and training and educational opportunities leading to promotions. Grove also claimed retaliation for assertion of her rights under Title VII in the withdrawal of a medical prescription benefit plan, and Vought asserted retaliation in vacation benefits. The case was tried to this Court on December 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 10, 1980, and post-trial memoranda were filed by the parties. This memorandum opinion constitutes this Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Administrative Complaints, Jurisdiction and Venue

Each plaintiff filed an administrative charge of discrimination in employment on account of sex with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March 3, 1976. (P.Ex. 1A, 1C, 1D)1. Grove also filed an amended charge on April 14, 1978, charging retaliation (P.Ex. 1B). The EEOC deferred the charges to the Maryland Commission on Human Relations (MCHR), with which plaintiffs filed additional charges substantially the same as those filed with the EEOC and, in the cases of Grove and Vought, also charging discrimination in promotions and promotional opportunities. (P.Ex. 2A-D). The charges were investigated by the MCHR, which issued findings of probable cause. The Bank entered into an agreement with the MCHR on February 16, 1979, in which it undertook substantial changes in its personnel policies and practices, and appointment of Janice Vought as Head Teller. The agreement was approved by a MCHR hearing examiner on May 30, 1979.

The EEOC issued right-to-sue letters to Sheila D. Grove on January 3, 1979, on her retaliation claim, and March 8, 1979 on her original claim; and to Janice Vought and Judith Walker on January 5, 1979. This action was filed within 90 days of issuance of the letters. The conduct complained of is within the scope of that charged in the administrative complaints and investigated by the EEOC.2

Plaintiffs are female citizens of the United States and Maryland. Defendant is a federally chartered commercial bank, with its facilities located in Frostburg, Maryland, doing business in this district. It is an employer within the meaning of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b), and the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, 29 U.S.C. § 216, and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337. Venue is proper under 12 U.S.C. § 94.

Factual Findings
The Bank: History, Organization and Personnel Practices

Frostburg National Bank is a small, but growing bank in a predominantly rural area. It has had its main office in Frostburg for a number of years, with a drive-in facility located on the main branch premises since 1970. In 1979 it opened a branch at Frostburg Plaza. From 1973 to 1978 it operated a small branch in the Student Union Building at Frostburg State College. Its assets doubled between 1970 and 1980, and the number of employees doubled also within that period. Assets in 1980 were $32 million, full-time employees were 32, part-time employees 7.

The main office of the Bank is organized into three departments, commercial, loan and bookkeeping. Tellers are either commercial tellers or loan tellers.3 All tellers work a window, handling transactions such as opening accounts, check cashing, savings account withdrawals, deposits in checking, savings and Christmas Club accounts, payments on utility bills, and issuing money orders and travelers checks. (See P.Exs. 22, 25). In the main branch some window transactions are normally handled only by loan tellers. Loan tellers take and post payments on loans, take payments for and provide access to safe deposit boxes, and take applications for Series H bonds.

All tellers balance their own cash drawers at the end of the day. Other regular daily duties of loan tellers include typing up papers on new loans, filing, posting loan payments received from other branches, and giving credit references. At the end of the day the loan service manager, or loan department supervisor, balances total loan payments against the ledger total for the day. The commercial department, each commercial teller handling a different account, totals Christmas Club and utility bill payments for all tellers. Other duties relating to loans are performed by loan tellers on less than a daily basis, for example, calculating interest, taxes and insurance on loans; paying real estate taxes and insurance; and checking for delinquencies and sending past due notices. Some are performed only at certain times of the year. Commercial tellers are, in rotation, assigned to work in the drive-in branch,4 where they handle their normal window transactions and also take loan and safe deposit box payments.

Loan and commercial tellers also regularly assist their respective supervisors with various daily duties and fill in when a supervisor is absent or particularly busy. This is an expected part of their jobs.

The chief difference between the two departments is that in the main branch only loan tellers take loan payments at their windows. There was testimony that being a loan teller was a more responsible position because of the importance to the Bank of income received from loans. There has been no starting pay differential between loan and commercial tellers, although records tend to indicate that, over the years, loan tellers receive higher salaries than commercial tellers with comparable seniority. See P.Ex. 14.

Bank hours are 9 to 5 on Monday and Friday, 9 to 3 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tellers must stay after customer hours until their daily work balances. They typically work fewer than 40 hours a week.

The loan tellers are under the general supervision of the loan department supervisor, or loan service manager. The commercial department in the past had a head teller and a commercial department supervisor. The head teller worked a window and handled vault and teller cash; processed overdrafts, stop payment orders and check returns; and handled bulk deposits and certain large accounts. The commercial department supervisor sometimes worked a teller window, generally supervised commercial tellers, handled certificates of deposit and wire transfers, did the daily balancing for the department, handled return items, supervised the night deposit vault, and prepared certain periodic reports. The head teller and commercial department supervisor's duties have sometimes overlapped. At present Janice Vought has the title head teller but is performing a few duties formerly assigned to the head teller and many formerly assigned to the commercial department supervisor. Another employee, Darla Plummer, is performing most of the former head teller duties. Some of the changes in duties have been necessitated by the Bank's growth and increased volume of certain transactions, for example, certificates of deposit.

The Bank's employees have traditionally been predominantly female. In 1980 there were 10 fulltime male employees and 22 females, with 3 males and 4 females working parttime. In 1979 there were 12 males and 21 females working fulltime. Two of the male employees in both years were P.J. Jenkins, bank president, and William Duncan, custodian. The male-female balance was closer in earlier years; for example, in 1968 there were 6 males and 7 females, in 1971 8 males and 10 females, in 1974, 9 males and 13 females, and in 1977 12 males and 17 females. A more realistic picture of the work force is obtained if one remembers that for all years the male employees included a member of the Jenkins family as president and for all years except 1968 included the male custodian.

The Bank presently has five officers, P.J. Jenkins, president; David P. Willetts, vice president and cashier; Earl Wilson, vice president and assistant cashier; David M. Linn, assistant cashier; and Ronald L. Talley, auditor. Except for Jenkins, all have risen through the ranks at the Bank. All are males, the Bank has never had a female officer.

Supervisors have, with one leading exception, been males also until recently. Leona M. Rankin, the exception, served as loan department supervisor from 1965 to October 1976, and as loan officer from October 1976 to 1979. She has since 1979 been manager of the Frostburg Plaza branch of the Bank. In recent years, since this action was filed other females have been given more responsibility. Mrs. Vought was made head teller, albeit as part of the settlement of the administrative complaints, and Grove was made loan officer in 1979. Virginia Lewis has been named supervisor of the drive-in branch since 1978, and Darlene O'Rourke has served as assistant loan service manager and is expected to become loan service manager.

The boss at the Bank has since 1966 been David P. Willetts, vice president and cashier.5 He is in charge of operations generally, including personnel policies and practices. He was aware of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Equal Pay Act, and other federal statutes and regulations. He knew that, as a national bank, Frostburg was subject to their provisions.

The bank, until recently, had no formal job descriptions and kept no regular personnel files on employees. Raises were recommended at the end of each year by Willetts, based primarily on his own observations6 of employees, and...

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