Rucker v. City of Kettering, Ohio

Decision Date07 February 2000
Docket NumberNo. C-3-99-429.,C-3-99-429.
Citation84 F.Supp.2d 917
PartiesBobbie A. RUCKER, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF KETTERING, OHIO, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio

Isabel Suarez, Dayton, OH, Mark Allan Anthony, Dulaney & Phillips, Dayton, OH, for Bobbie A. Rucker, plaintiff.

David L. Eubank, City of Kettering, Kettering, OH, Robert Forrest Cowdrey, Jenks, Surdyk & Cowdry Co., Dayton, OH, for Kettering City, defendant.

Michael William Krumholtz, Joseph C. Oehlers, Bieser, Greer & Landis, Dayton, OH, for James O'Dell, Chief of Police, defendant.

Louise S. Brock, Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati, OH, Gary Edward Becker, Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati, OH, for Richard Strader, defendant.

DECISION AND ENTRY OVERRULING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION (DOC. # 2), FILED BY PLAINTIFF BOBBIE A. RUCKER

RICE, Chief Judge.

This lawsuit stems from the Plaintiff's unsuccessful attempt to apply for employment as a civilian jailer. In response to an advertised job opening, the Plaintiff sought an application for the jailer position from Defendant City of Kettering, Ohio. City employees refused to provide the Plaintiff with an application, however, because she was a female. As a result, the Plaintiff commenced the present litigation, asserting causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02, and seeking injunctive relief and compensatory damages. (Amended Complaint, Doc. # 17). Her amended Complaint names several Defendants, including the City of Kettering, Chief of Police James O'Dell, Human Resources Director Richard Strader, and Human Resources Analyst Karen Sejas, all of whom are City employees who have been sued in their official capacities.1 (Id.). Along with her amended Complaint, the Plaintiff also has filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"), and Preliminary and Permanent Injunction. (Doc. # 2).

Following a telephone conference call, the Court entered a September 8, 1998, TRO, enjoining the City from accepting additional applications for the position of civilian jailer. (Doc. # 5). The Court also enjoined the City from filling a vacant jailer position2 or conducting a written examination for the job. (Id.). Thereafter, on September 21, 1999, the Court held an oral and evidentiary hearing on the Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. The parties subsequently filed posthearing briefs, further addressing the legality of the City's failure to provide the Plaintiff with an employment application. After reviewing those filings and the evidence introduced at the hearing on the Plaintiff's Motion, the Court concludes that she has not demonstrated her entitlement to a preliminary injunction. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth more fully below, the Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (Doc. # 2) will be overruled.

I. Findings of Fact3

Plaintiff Bobbie A. Rucker is a thirty-seven year old female. She began her career as a correctional officer at the Hocking Correctional Institution in Nelsonville, Ohio, where she worked from March, 1986, until January, 1987. At Hocking, Rucker worked on shifts with male and female correctional officers who guarded the all-male inmate population. Among other things, her responsibilities included conducting "pat-downs" and watching as inmates stood behind curtains and "dressed out" into prison jump suits.4 From the Hocking facility, Rucker went to work as a correctional officer at the Dayton Correctional Institution in Dayton, Ohio, where she performed similar tasks. While working at the Dayton facility Rucker also worked with male and female correctional officers guarding an all-male inmate population. Ultimately, she rose to the rank of captain and had approximately 115 correctional officers under her supervision. She quit her job in September, 1996, however, and began driving trucks commercially.

Thereafter, in August, 1999, Rucker saw a newspaper advertisement for a civilian jailer position with the City of Kettering, Ohio. After reviewing the advertisement, she went to the City's government center and expressed her interest in applying for the job. In response, Kettering Human Resources Analyst Karen Sejas refused to accept Rucker's application. Sejas informed Rucker that the City hires only males to work as civilian jailers. Sejas also explained to Rucker that the Ohio Civil Rights Commission had approved the City's decision to hire only male jailers.

The City's refusal to hire female jailers stems from the fact that its jail is a fiveday holding facility, which houses only male inmates who have not been convicted of a crime. The jail has a maximum capacity of seven inmates, and ninety percent of its occupants have been arrested for misdemeanor offenses. Arrested females are not integrated into the Kettering facility. Rather, they are taken to the facility only briefly and given an opportunity to post bond. If they cannot do so, they are transported immediately to the Montgomery County jail, which houses male and female inmates.

Five full-time civilian jailers staff the Kettering facility in eight-hour shifts, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Thus, the seven-day work week includes three eight-hour shifts per day, for a total of twenty-one shifts each week. Of those twenty-one shifts, seventeen are covered by one jailer, and four are covered by two jailers working together. Consequently, all of the City's civilian jailers spend at least part of their work week alone supervising the inmates. Shift assignments are made on the basis of seniority, and the jailers do not operate under a union contract.

The job responsibilities of the civilian jailers are varied. Among other things, they perform occasional pat-down searches. At the Kettering facility, such searches require the jailers to pat the clothing covering the male inmates' genitals. Performing strip searches is also considered a job responsibility of the City's jailers. In practice, however, strip searches at the Kettering facility are extremely rare, and they require written pre-approval from a supervisor.5 The jailers also provide inmates with various shower supplies each morning, including towels, shavers, soap, shaving cream, and razors. After showering, the inmates return their supplies and walk, often naked, through the jail's day room. In addition, the jailers are responsible for observing new inmates as they strip to their underwear and replace their personal clothing with City-issued pants, shirts, and shoes. Pursuant to jail policy, the civilian jailers are also responsible for directly observing each inmate every thirty minutes. Such observation is conducted by viewing video monitors and by physically checking on the inmates in their cells. Finally, the jailers' job responsibilities include cleaning all toilets, urinals, laboratories, drinking facilities, and bathing facilities on a daily basis.

Although the City insists that allowing female jailers to perform many of the foregoing tasks would be "inconvenient," jail supervisor Craig Bailey conceded during the September 21, 1999, oral and evidentiary hearing that a female jailer could perform the required pat-down searches. He also acknowledged that female jailers could dispense shower supplies, particularly if jail inmates were supplied with robes to wear to and from the shower. Additionally, Bailey recognized the possibility that male inmates could remain in their street clothes until a male jailer arrived on duty to observe the "dress down" procedure. Likewise, he acknowledged that any required strip searches could be postponed until after a male jailer arrived on duty.

II. Analysis

A District Court considers four factors when deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction. Those factors are: (1) the likelihood that the party seeking relief will succeed on the merits of the claim; (2) whether the party seeking relief will suffer irreparable harm without the preliminary injunction; (3) the probability that granting the requested relief will cause substantial harm to others6; and (4) whether the public interest is advanced by the issuance of the preliminary injunction. Cf. Washington v. Reno, 35 F.3d 1093, 1099 (6th Cir.1994). These four considerations are factors to be balanced, rather than prerequisites that must be met. Id. With these standards in mind, the Court turns now to its analysis of Rucker's pending Motion.

A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

Rucker's amended Complaint asserts two causes of action against the City of Kettering and the individual Defendants, in their official capacities7: (1) a federal claim alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (2) a state law claim alleging a violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02. Upon review, the Court concludes that Rucker has failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on either claim.

1. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I)

Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights. Rather, it creates a federal cause of action for "the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere." Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir.1990). Thus, in order to succeed on her § 1983 claim, Rucker must show, as a threshold matter: (1) that she was deprived of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that she was subjected to this deprivation by a person acting under the color of state law. Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir.1994). Furthermore, because she has sued the City of Kettering, a municipality, Rucker must show that the City itself caused a constitutional deprivation. The City cannot be held responsible under a theory of respondeat superior. Rather, Rucker must show that the City, through a custom or policy, caused the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. New York Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). The custom or policy must be the "moving force" behind the violation. Id....

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