Patterson v. McLean Credit Union

Decision Date18 February 1992
Docket NumberNo. C-84-73-WS.,C-84-73-WS.
Citation784 F. Supp. 268
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
PartiesBrenda PATTERSON, Plaintiff, v. McLEAN CREDIT UNION, Defendant.

Harold L. Kennedy, III of Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy & Kennedy, Winston-Salem, N.C., for plaintiff.

George E. Doughton, Jr., H. Lee Davis, Jr. and Thomas J. Doughton of Hutchins, Tyndall, Doughton & Moore, Winston-Salem, N.C., for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HIRAM H. WARD, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on remand from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In its most recent opinion in this case, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, No. 90-1729, 1991 WL 68811 (4th Cir. May 3, 1991) (per curiam) 931 F.2d 887 (table), the Court of Appeals instructed this Court to reconsider plaintiff's refusal-to-promote claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 after she should have the opportunity to "advance legal arguments as to the sufficiency of the existing or any additional evidence to establish her `new contract' claim." Id., slip op. at 8. Defendant has moved for summary judgment, the parties have been afforded additional time for discovery, and the parties' positions have been fully briefed. Thus, the matter is ripe for a ruling, and the Court, consistent with the opinion offered below, will grant defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. Procedural History

Prior to the appeal and remand described above, this case traveled extensively in the federal court system. This Court's prior opinion in the case, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 130 F.R.D. 617 (M.D.N.C. 1990), was the source of the appeal mentioned above. When last before this Court, the case was on remand from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 887 F.2d 484 (4th Cir. 1989), where the case was, in turn, on remand from the United States Supreme Court, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 105 L.Ed.2d 132 (1989). In its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that a promotion claim is actionable under § 1981 if "the nature of the change in position contemplated by the promotion was such that it involved the opportunity to enter into a new contract with the employer." Id. at 185, 109 S.Ct. at 2377. Thus, after having traveled initially from a jury verdict and an opinion of this Court to the Supreme Court, the case made its way back here where it was dismissed on the pleadings then available. On the further direction of the Court of Appeals, the case is before this Court again.

II. Factual Background

Plaintiff, a black female, was hired by defendant in 1972 as a teller and file coordinator. Her job position and title, Account Junior, remained unchanged during her time with defendant. She was always paid on an hourly wage basis. Susan Williamson, a white employee hired as an accounting clerk in 1974, received a title change from "Account Junior" to "Account Intermediate" in 1982. Plaintiff asserted that the title change was a promotion and that she herself should have received such a promotion due to her seniority over Williamson. The title change was accompanied by a pay increase of 89 cents per hour more than Patterson's pay shortly thereafter. Williamson remained at the same desk under the same supervision as she had before the title change.

With additional discovery, plaintiff now makes several assertions which should be noted. First, plaintiff states that the change to Account Intermediate would have produced eighteen different job duties for her. These include the following: (1) reconciling bank statements; (2) preparing Regulation "G" worksheets and reports; (3) preparing monthly work sheets for Branch Income and Expense Report; (4) entering ready credit lines into system; (5) preparing weekly cash on hand reports; (6) preparing Regulation "D" report; (7) maintaining subsidiary ledgers on ICU and Federal Funds; (8) receiving bank figures and calling in wire transfers; (9) auditing computer reports; (10) entering any add-on expenses (to loans) and entry reversal into system; (11) entering write-offs each quarter into system; (12) preparing listing of checks used for bank; (13) filing or distributing daily computer reports; (14) preparing entry for all returned checks for supervisor; (15) balancing weekly CD report to general ledger; (16) checking out, distributing, or filing weekly computer reports; (17) checking out, distributing, or filing monthly computer reports; and (18) inputting branch work daily. (Williamson Deposition, Exhibit 3).

The record also indicates that plaintiff's duties as an Account Junior were as follows: (1) pulling paid loans to be mailed and filing unmailed paid loan information in inactive file cabinets; (2) filing insurance papers and titles for auto and unit loans on a daily basis; (3) preparing information for typing insurance cancellation letters for auto and unit loans and typing letters; (4) filing all loans after they have been reviewed and preparing folders; (5) analyzing auto and unit loans to determine which ones needed insurance and/or title letters and typing letters; (6) filing branch input forms and documents; (7) pulling all loan folders requested and accounting for pulled folders; (8) filing payroll authorization forms; (9) processing all requests for copies of statements and/or drafts; (10) shredding any confidential paperwork. (Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions, Exhibit A at 7).

Plaintiff also states that she would have received a substantial pay increase in the position of Account Intermediate. As support, she compares the minimum salary of an Account Junior, $4.00 per hour, to the maximum salary of an Account Intermediate, $9.75 per hour. Plaintiff's own Trial Exhibits disclose a different picture. The position of Account Intermediate afforded Susan Williamson an hourly wage of $8.23 while plaintiff's position paid her $7.34 only a few short months after Williamson's title and duties were changed — a difference of eighty-nine cents per hour. (Pay Record of Brenda Gail Patterson, Plaintiff's Trial Exhibit 4; and Pay Record of Susan Tengen Williamson, Plaintiff's Trial Exhibit 7). With regard to pay, plaintiff also states that her position on defendant's pay scale, denominated H01, would have been changed to H06. No evidence of corresponding pay values or gradations is offered in conjunction therewith.

Plaintiff next states that, as an Account Junior, her duties were confined to intrastate commerce and were not, therefore, subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Because the Account Intermediate position dealt with the transfer of funds in interstate commerce, plaintiff believes that this position would have been covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiff offers no support for this argument and fails to describe how this would have created a new and distinct relationship between her and her employer.

Next, plaintiff states that she would have had the opportunity for higher advancement in the company had she been changed to the position of Account Intermediate. Plaintiff also states that she did not have a computer terminal, a telephone, or an adding machine in the vault where she worked while Williamson had access to these types of machines. Finally, plaintiff states that she was rarely allowed to work overtime while Williamson was allowed to do so.

Having outlined plaintiff's position for the purpose of examining her claim under the summary judgment standard, it is necessary to mention another issue plaintiff raises due to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub.L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071. Plaintiff argues that the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 should be applied retroactively to her case. Because it is necessary to determine what law is to be applied to plaintiff's case before it can be determined whether she has stated a genuine issue of material fact under that law, the Court will first examine the applicability of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 to this case.

III. Civil Rights Act of 1991

The Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub.L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071, was passed into law on November 21, 1991. It is divided into four titles: I — Federal Civil Rights Remedies, II — Glass Ceiling, III — Government Employee Rights, and IV — General Provisions. The preamble to the Act states:

An Act to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to strengthen and improve Federal civil rights laws, to provide for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, to clarify provisions regarding disparate impact actions, and for other purposes.

Preamble, 105 Stat. at 1071. Thus it was the intention of Congress to alter the present picture of civil rights decisional law. This effort was inspired, at least in part, by the decisions coming from the claims originally brought by plaintiff in this case years ago as evidenced by the changes to section 1981. See 137 Cong. Rec. S15483 (daily ed. October 30, 1991).

Former section 1981 provided:

All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same rights in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other. Rev.Stat. § 1977.

42 U.S.C. § 1981 (1988).

Congress has changed section 1981 by placing the letter "(a)" before the section quoted above and by adding the following new subsections:

(b) For purposes of this section, the term "make and enforce contracts" includes the making, performance, modification, and termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship.
(c) The rights protected by this section are protected against impairment by nongovernmental
...

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