Holifield v. Reno, 95-3280

Decision Date02 July 1997
Docket NumberNo. 95-3280,95-3280
Citation115 F.3d 1555
Parties74 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 511, 11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 91 Edward A. HOLIFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Janet RENO, Attorney General of the United States, Joseph Class, Warden of FCI Marianna, Garland Jeffers, Associate Warden, FCI Marianna, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Edward A. Holifield, pro se, Tallahassee, Florida, Jerry G. Traynham, Tallahassee, FL, for Appellant.

Michael P. Finney, Special Asst. U.S. Atty., Tallahassee, Florida, Steve R. Simon, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Phoenix, Arizona, for Appellees.

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

Before BLACK, Circuit Judge, and FAY and ALARCON *, Senior Circuit Judges.


We affirm the judgment of the district court for the reasons stated in its dispositive

order dated September 11, 1995, attached hereto as an Appendix.








Edward W. HOLIFIELD, Plaintiff,


Janet RENO, Attorney General of the United States, Defendant.

No. 94-50357-RV.


Pending is the defendant's motion for summary judgment. (doc. 8)


This is a petition for review of a decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB"), brought pursuant to Title 5, United States Code, Section 7703, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.]. The plaintiff, Dr. Edward W. Holifield, is proceeding pro se. Dr. Holifield, who is black, alleges that the Bureau of Prisons discriminated against him on the basis of his race when it removed him from his position as a physician at Federal Correctional Institution Marianna, Florida ("FCI Marianna"). Dr. Holifield also alleges that racial discrimination formed the basis for his reassignment from Chief of Health Programs to staff physician at FCI Marianna. Except as noted, the following material facts are not in dispute.

Holifield was appointed Chief of Health Programs ("CHP") at FCI Marianna on July 28, 1991. 1 The position was open because a Quality Assurance Physician Peer Review performed in November 1990 at the request of Warden Joseph Class revealed widespread problems within the medical department, and the incumbent CHP, Dr. Hosain, was relieved of his duties. Walter Hollingsworth, Health Services Administrator, brought Holifield's name to the attention of Warden Class. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. III, p. 462) Because of problems in Holifield's prior employment record, a waiver had to be obtained so that Holifield could be hired by the Bureau of Prisons. Holifield was hired on the basis of both his credentials and his racial minority status. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. I, p. 176, ex. C Vol. III, p. 550)

When Holifield arrived at FCI Marianna, the Health Services Division was under the supervision of Associate Warden Garland Jeffers. Holifield was informed by Jeffers that he would not be allowed supervisory powers until he passed a course entitled Introduction to Supervision. (doc. 32, ex. 17-B-29) Holifield was not informed of this requirement prior to or at the time he was appointed to the position. Jeffers withheld authority because Holifield was new to the Bureau of Prisons, and Jeffers felt it would be beneficial if Holifield had additional training in supervision. (doc. 8, ex. A Vol. III, p. 554-555)

On March 30, 1992, Holifield received his six-month performance appraisal from Jeffers. Holifield was favorably rated, and Jeffers noted that "Dr. Holifield is progressing extremely well...." (doc. 8, ex. B Vol. III, ex. A-4) On August 20, 1992, Holifield received an overall rating of "excellent" on his one-year performance appraisal. (doc. 8, ex. B Vol III, ex. A-5) Jeffers stated that Holifield "has completed a very successful probationary year...." Id. Warden Class concurred in the appraisal.

Holifield passed the supervision course on May 12, 1992. He sent a memorandum to Jeffers and Class asking for written clarification of his supervisory status. (doc. 32, ex. 17-B-29) Jeffers verbally granted supervisory authority to Holifield in May 1992, but Holifield demanded that the grant of authority be made in writing. He finally received written notice that he was CHP with full supervisory authority on November 3, 1992. (doc. 8, ex. A (ex. C, att. E))

On November 20, 1992, Dr. Elsy Rucker sent a memorandum to Class concerning Holifield's behavior. (doc. 8, ex. A ex. C, att. G) 2 Dr. Rucker stated that Holifield threatened to destroy her if she undermined him in staff meetings, and ordered her to clear out her office and move to a less desirable room in another location. Id.; (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. I, p. 180) On the day Class received the memorandum, he assigned Randy Ream, Camp Administrator, and Sterling Dawson, Paralegal, to investigate Rucker's claims of unprofessional conduct against Holifield. (doc. 8, ex. A ex. C, att. H; doc. 8, ex. C Vol. III, p. 466) The parties dispute whether Holifield was aware of this investigation before he saw the EEO counselor on December 2, 1992. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. V, p. 950)

On December 2, 1992, Holifield went to Diana Graden, EEO counselor at FCI Marianna, for the purpose of finding out how to file an EEO complaint. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. V, p. 898; doc. 32, ex. 17-C-5) Holifield was concerned about the lack of support of Class and Jeffers for his supervisory authority and position as CHP (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. V, p. 977-981) While Graden and Holifield were still in the counseling session, Ream and Dawson interrupted the meeting and escorted Holifield to another room. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. V, p. 898) Ream and Dawson informed Holifield that they were investigating Rucker's claim of unprofessional behavior against Holifield, and proceeded to question Holifield regarding Rucker's allegations.

The next day, on December 3, 1992, an entry was made in Holifield's performance log stating that Holifield habitually arrived at work 10 to 15 minutes late and took longer lunch breaks than the allotted 30 minutes. (doc. 8, ex. B Vol. III, ex. A-13) Prior to December 3, 1992, Holifield had not received any log entries. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. V, p. 898) Log entries were required to be made at least every three months, and preferably every month. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. V, p. 824-25) Another entry was made in Holifield's performance log on December 9, 1992, stating that the pattern of Holifield's sick leave use appeared to be excessive. (doc. 8, ex. B Vol. III, ex. A-14) An additional entry was made in Holifield's performance log in December, dated "October, November, December 1992." (doc. 8, ex. B Vol. III, ex. A-15) The entry stated that Holifield had made successful changes in departmental policy, but noted that Holifield experienced "significant difficulty in maintaining a professional demeanor when it comes to verbally communicating with subordinates, peers and supervisors." The entry downgraded Holifield's appraisal rating on three of five performance elements.

On December 14, 1992, Holifield sent a lengthy memorandum to Jeffers complaining about lack of recognition from Jeffers concerning Holifield's treatment of a patient. Holifield stated that "[d]espite the actions taken by me that may have prevented the death of this patient, I have not received a single favorable word of recognition from you. Nor has there been a positive entry in my performance log reflecting the role that I played." (doc. 32, ex. 17-B-23) Holifield proceeded to give several examples of actions he felt did not receive sufficient recognition from Jeffers.

The relationship between Holifield and the staff and administration continued to deteriorate. On December 17, 1992, Jeffers confronted Holifield concerning his treatment of an inmate. The issue was brought to Jeffers' attention by Rucker. Holifield sent a memorandum to Jeffers on December 21, 1992, accusing Jeffers of discrimination, (doc. 32, ex. 17-B-24), and Jeffers sent a memorandum to Class concerning the incident on December 28, 1992. (doc. 32, ex. 17-B-26)

On December 21, 1992, Ream and Dawson issued their report to Class, in which they concluded that the events of November 19 occurred as charged by Rucker. (doc. 8, ex. A, ex. 4i-27) They also concluded that Rucker's allegations concerning Holifield's poor management skills were substantially true. Ream and Dawson noted schisms between Holifield and his subordinates, his supervisor, and the support staff, and concluded that "effective management of the department can only be restored by changing the department head," since Holifield lacked the supervisory experience and leadership skills to make needed changes. (doc. 8, ex. A, ex. 4i-27)

On December 28, 1992, Dr. Holifield was notified by Class that effective January 4, 1993, he was reassigned from his position as CHP to that of staff physician. (doc. 8, ex. A (ex. C, att. J)) Class took this action on the basis of the recommendation by Ream and Dawson. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. III, p. 467) The memorandum from Class stated that the reassignment was not a disciplinary action. On December 29, 1992, Class circulated a memorandum stating that Dr. Rucker would serve as acting CHP. (doc. 8, ex. A (ex. C, att. K)) Associate Warden Danny L. Roswurm was to take over supervision of the medical department from Jeffers, and did so in January of 1993. (doc. 8, ex. C Vol. III, p. 513) Class reassigned Jeffers to another position in part because of the strained relationship between Jeffers and Holifield.

Holifield sent numerous memoranda to Class, Roswurm, and Hollingsworth on January 19, 1993, asking for the results of the investigation, asking why few African-Americans were present in the medical department at FCI Marianna, asking why no African-Americans were on the Executive Staff, questioning the entries in his performance log, and alleging discrimination as to his removal from the position of CHP. (doc. 8, ex....

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