Marshall v. Kirkland, 78-1237

Decision Date01 August 1979
Docket NumberNo. 78-1237,78-1237
Citation602 F.2d 1282
Parties20 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1437, 20 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 30,192 Daisy MARSHALL, Barbara Anderson, Barbara Davis and Barbara Warfield, Appellants, v. Roy KIRKLAND, Jr., W. F. Burney, C. W. Rial, J. L. Muscalino, Charles Drennan, Jr., L. F. Graves, J. D. Rohrscheib, Gene Tyler and J. C. Moore, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

John W. Walker, of Walker, Hollingsworth & Jones, Little Rock, Ark., argued and on brief, for appellants.

David Solomon, Helena, Ark., argued and on brief, for appellees.

Before LAY and HEANEY, Circuit Judges, and HANSON, * Senior District Judge.

HANSON, Senior District Judge.

Appellants, plaintiffs below, appeal from the district court's 1 judgment entered after a bench trial to the extent the district court ruled adversely to appellants on their sex and race discrimination claims. In an action brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 appellants and the class they represent sought relief from alleged violations of their Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection constitutional rights in connection with their employment as teachers in the Barton-Lexa School District. Jurisdiction in the district court was predicated on 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3), (4).

The representative appellants are black women who were employed as teachers in the Barton-Lexa School District. They represent the class of all black teachers and applicants and all female teachers and applicants in the district. Appellants alleged both class-based and incidental individual sex and race discrimination in connection with hiring, wages, promotion and job assignment. The defendants are the superintendent and individual members of the Barton-Lexa Board of Education.

The employment discrimination in issue is only such as would amount to a deprivation of constitutional rights. The complaint does not allege or seek relief for a violation of the statutory duty imposed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, Et seq. (1976).

The district court correctly applied the three-year limitations period in Ark.Stat.Ann. § 37-206. See Clark v. Mann, 562 F.2d 1104, 1112 (8th Cir. 1977). Since the complaint was filed on December 4, 1974, the district court addressed itself to claims arising from and after December 4, 1971.

We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

I.
A.

The Barton-Lexa School District is a small rural district and has no incorporated towns or cities within its geographical area. During the years in question the district averaged a total yearly elementary and high school student population of approximately 900 students. Though the figures varied from grade to grade and year to year, the student body was consistently composed of about 60% Blacks and 40% Whites. Most of the teachers have been white, both before and after integration of the school district. In recent years the situation has become more proportionate. Thus in 1971-72, 72% Of the teaching and administrative staff was white and 28% Black. By 1977-78 the figures were 52% And 48% Respectively.

Until the 1967-68 school year the district maintained a dual school system with separate schools for whites and blacks. A dual salary schedule was likewise maintained, one for black and one for white teachers. Commencing with the 1967-68 year the district began to implement a desegregation plan providing "freedom of choice" for grades one through nine, and integration in Barton High School for grades ten through twelve. This apparently continued until the 1972-73 school year and the advent of "unitization". The dual school system was thereupon abolished as the dual salary schedules had previously in the 1971-72 school year. The district became fully integrated, at least outwardly. 2 However, as the plaintiff-appellants argued "(t)he continuing discriminatory practices and policies of the school district since the dissolution of the dual school system constitute(s) the focus of plaintiffs' complaint." Brief for Appellants at 3.

The district court found itself in basic agreement with appellants on the existence of class-based discrimination subsequent to December 1971. It concluded:

In summary, it is clear, as a matter of law, that purposeful discrimination existed in every aspect of school life until the dual school system was abolished and the unitized school system was established in the fall of 1972. Since unification (referred to as unitization by appellants) some phases of purposeful discrimination against black faculty members have continued. It follows that a prima facie case of purposeful racial discrimination was established with respect to assignment, salary, promotion and hiring of black faculty members for up to and including the 1972-73 school year and in some areas, such as assignment of duties, since. Thus, a rebuttable presumption in favor of individual relief has been established.

App. at 19. The district court's conclusion in this regard was essentially identical to that we reached in a previous factually and legally analogous case involving a similar Arkansas school district. See Williams v. Anderson, 562 F.2d 1081, 1091 (8th Cir. 1977). The finding is not challenged by the school board.

The district court also concluded, however, that with respect to those individual appellants to whom the court's prima facie finding applied the school district had successfully rebutted the presumption of racial discrimination. With respect to individual appellants outside the scope of the prima facie finding, the court also denied individual relief. Inasmuch as "no other teacher than the named teachers appeared seeking relief in the nature of back pay, reinstatement or claimed discrimination," App. at 35, no class member was awarded individual back pay or other equitable relief. The court did, however, shape a decree awarding class-based injunctive relief. The school district was directed to evenhandedly apply its teacher evaluation process to all teachers and to adopt objective, non-racial standards for use in connection with hiring, assignment, promotion and termination of employment of all district administrative, specialty, vocational and teaching personnel. The district was also directed to adopt a unified salary schedule and to take what amounted to a prescribed form of affirmative action to attain a racially balanced administrative, teaching, and specialty staff. The district court retained jurisdiction and required defendant-appellees to report their compliance with the decree.

As it relates to the district court's findings on the issue of race discrimination, appellants challenge the district court's denial of relief to any individual class members, and specifically, the district court's findings and conclusions with respect to the four representative parties. Part of their complaint is procedural. Appellants assert that after the district court rendered its finding that a prima facie case was established, individual class members were entitled to a separate opportunity to come forward and assert individual claims for relief. The district court treated the two-day trial before it as a plenary submission, and appellants appear to claim that it was error to do so.

Defendants do not appeal.

B.

Appellants' complaint also alleges gender-based discrimination. Women have predominated as teachers in Barton-Lexa School District by a ratio of between three and four to one. Evidence was presented to the district court which indicated that the assignment to "specialty" positions (a position with extra duties for which an increment in compensation was provided), and promotion to one of the three administrative positions in the district (principal of the elementary school, principal of the high school, and superintendent of the district) was influenced by the sex of the employee and statistically favored males with a concomitant differential in pay as between men and women.

The district court concluded:

the plaintiffs have failed in their burden of presenting any testimony to the effect that discrimination due to sex existed within a period of 3 years from the commencement of this litigation.

App. at 21. Plaintiffs appeal from this determination that they failed to prove a prima facie case of sex discrimination.

In view of the foregoing, three issues are presented by this appeal which we treat in the following order: (1) whether with regard to alleged race discrimination the district court was clearly erroneous or contrary to law in its conclusion that none of the named representatives of the class was entitled to individual relief; (2) whether the district court erred in treating the two-day trial as a plenary submission, thus not affording victims of race discrimination an additional opportunity to assert individual claims; and (3) whether the district court was clearly erroneous or contrary to law in its finding that plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination.

II.
A.

We begin our analysis of the individual claims of the named class representatives by noting that this Court has twice before dealt with similar factual and legal issues in Williams v. Anderson, supra and Clark v. Mann, supra. In both cases we recognized that recent Supreme Court decisions 3 had established that "plaintiffs must prove an intent to discriminate on the part of the defendants to prevail in a § 1983 action." Williams v. Anderson, 562 F.2d at 1086. See Clark v. Mann, 562 F.2d at 1112. Mindful of the Supreme Court's observation that proof of an "invidious discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor demands a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available," Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266, 97 S.Ct. 555, 564, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977), and because rebuttable presumptions triggered by proof of a prima facie...

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