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SHIDAKER v. BOLGER

August 23, 1984

DARLENE SHIDAKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM BOLGER, IN HIS CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER GENERAL (UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE), DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William T. Hart, District Judge.

 
            FINDINGS OF FACT — CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND
                              ORDER

Plaintiff Darlene Shidaker ("Shidaker") sued her employer William Bolger in his capacity as Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service"). Count I alleges discriminatory failure to promote under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16 and 39 U.S.C. § 409. Count II seeks review of an administrative appeal of Shidaker's reduction in grade by the Postal Service. Plaintiff alleges that the reduction was in retaliation for her attempt to vindicate the alleged discriminatory failure to promote. Judicial review of the entire administrative record of Shidaker's reduction in grade is limited to determining whether the Postal Service's ostensible reason for the grade reduction, Shidaker's alleged poor performance, is supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious. Coffman v. Bolger, 590 F.2d 1366 (5th Cir. 1979); Alsbury v. United States Postal Service, 530 F.2d 852 (9th Cir.), cert. denied 429 U.S. 828 (1976); Oates v. United States Postal Service, 444 F. Supp. 100 (S.D.N.Y. 1978).

FINDINGS OF FACT

A hearing was held by the Court. Shidaker was not called as a witness. Based on the final pretrial order, which is incorporated by reference, and the testimony before the Court, the Court finds the following facts, as of the relevant times, many of which are adopted from the parties' statement of uncontested facts:

(1) Shidaker, began her Postal Service career on September 21, 1962, as Acting Postmaster of Kenilworth, Illinois. She was converted to Postmaster, Kenilworth, Illinois on May 8, 1964. This position was a PES-18.

(2) When Shidaker was appointed Acting Postmaster in Kenilworth, Illinois, it was her first employment in any capacity with the Postal Service or its predecessor Post Office Department, United States of America.

(3) Prior to her appointment at Kenilworth, Shidaker's employment experience was as follows:

1956-1958 — Executive Secretary, "Business Week" (McGraw-Hill), Chicago, Illinois, earning $350.00 per month;

1958-1961 — Office work, Stivers Officer Service, Chicago, Illinois, earning $4.00 per hour;

1961-1962 — Office Manager, Jack Bullock & Associates, Chicago, Illinois, earning $100.00 per week.

(4) The Kenilworth Post Office is an associate post office of the North Suburban Metropolitan Service Center ("MSC"). The associate post offices employ approximately 5,000 employees, including postmasters and supervisors. In 1977 there were 108 associate post offices within the North Suburban MSC. Since 1977, one associate post office has been eliminated, leaving 107.

(5) Kenilworth is the smallest of the associate post offices according to the number of city delivery routes and rural delivery routes. It is a "Class C" post office, which embraces the associate post offices with the smallest delivery operations. In "Class C," Kenilworth ranks with the bottom six post offices by size of delivery operations:

  Kenilworth           - 3 City delivery routes
  Fox River Grove      - 3 City delivery routes
  Genoa                - 3 City delivery routes
                         3 City delivery routes and 3
  Marengo              - rural routes
  Winfield             - 3 City delivery routes
  Winthrop Harbor      - 3 City delivery routes

(6) The Kenilworth post office is located in northern Cook County, Illinois. It serves a village with a population of 3,000. The area is not growing and contains only small commercial establishments and no industrial firms. There are three letter carrier routes. At the relevant time, the authorized complement of employees was 11, including a PES-18 postmaster, one supervisor and four part-time employees. Revenue for fiscal year 1977 was $112,297. In 1978, the position of supervisor was eliminated and the post office was downgraded to PES-15.

(7) On August 18, 1977, Shidaker applied for the vacant PES-22 level postmaster positions at Glenview, Palatine, and Franklin Park, Illinois.

(8) Franklin Park is a medium size first class post office, located in the western section of Cook County serving a population of 35,000. The town contains small industrial and commercial firms, several large manufacturing businesses as well as a switch-yard. There are 29 city routes and four auxiliary routes. The authorized complement of employees is 89, which includes a PES-22 postmaster, seven supervisors and 16 part-time employees. Revenue for fiscal year 1977 was $5,453,725 and operating expenses were $1,674,781.

(9) Palatine is a medium size first class post office located in central Cook County in an area of rapid residential and commercial growth. The office serves a population of 70,000. There are 42 city routes, one rural route and three auxiliary routes. The authorized complement of employees is 109, which includes a PES-22 postmaster and six supervisors. Revenue for fiscal year 1977 was $2,588,283 and operating expenses were $2,094.581.

(10) Glenview is a medium size first class post office located in the northern part of Cook County in a area of growing residential and commercial activity. The office serves a population of 52,000. There are 45 city routes and six auxiliary routes. The authorized complement of employees is 114, which includes a PES-22 postmaster and seven supervisors. Revenue for fiscal year 1977 was $3,648,185 and operating expenses were $2,121,720.

(11) Frank J. Santoro ("Santoro") has been Manager of the North Suburban MSC since August 14, 1976. Santoro and his staff supervise the operation of all of the associate post offices within the jurisdiction of the North Suburban MSC. Santoro and his staff are ultimately responsible for the efficient operation of the associate post offices, providing advice and supervision in such areas as mail processing, customer services, finance and employee and labor relations. Santoro also is responsible for the efficient operation of the North Suburban main mail facility which employs approximately 3,000 employees, including Santoro and his staff and the employees who sort the mail for the associate post offices. Santoro is the immediate supervisor of each associate postmaster.

(12) The North Suburban MSC is subordinate to the Northern Illinois District Office, Oakbrook, Illinois. That Office supervises several MSC's in Northern Illinois. Santoro's immediate supervisor is the Manager, Northern Illinois District. The current District Manager is Richard Koenigs. His predecessor was William Booras ("Booras").

(13) The Northern Illinois District is subordinate to the Regional Postmaster General (RPMG) for the Central Region. The Central Region encompasses 13 states, including Illinois. The RPMG and his staff are located in the Main Post Office, 433 W. Van Buren Street, Chicago, Illinois. The Postmaster General, Washington, D.C., is the immediate supervisor of the (RPMG), Central Region as well as the RPMGs for the Northeastern, Eastern, Southern and Western Regions.

(14) During the relevant time period, the Postal Service had an affirmative action program for women, sometimes referred to as the "women's program."

(15) There were a total of 92 applicants for the postmaster positions in Glenview, Palatine, and Franklin Park, and Shidaker was the only female among them.

(16) The Postal Service has a policy of promoting from within. Ordinarily promotions are made one step at a time, e.g., from a PES-20 to 21.

(17) On November 3, 1977, a Postmaster Screening Board, composed of W. Robert Sleep, Postmaster, Northbrook; Ralph Wright, Postmaster, Oak Park and former postal inspector with jurisdiction over the Kenilworth post office; Richard Skala, Director Customer Services North Suburban MSC; and Walter L. Besteda, Director, Employee and Labor Relations, North Suburban MSC, met to review applications and screen candidates for the positions of Postmaster, Glenview, Palatine, and Franklin Park, Illinois. Besteda is black. No woman was on the Screening Board.

(18) The Screening Board did not interview the applicants. Each Screening Board member scored each applicant individually, for each vacancy, and the results were cumulated. In evaluating the applicants, including Shidaker, the Board had available:

(a) the applicant's "Personal History Summary" which showed the applicant's educational background, including Postal Service courses taken, Postal Service employment experience, non-Postal Service employment experience, participation in civil, fraternal and professional organizations, and awards;

(b) the applicant's "Estimate of Potential" (PS 2577) prepared and submitted by the applicant's immediate supervisor. Form 2577 rates factors such as "motivation," "personal growth," and "capacity to learn."

(d) the applicant's personnel file; and

(e) any relevant personal knowledge that the Board members had concerning the applicant's work performance. The Screening Board also had available data concerning the community, employee complement, number of carrier routes and dollar revenue of each of the vacant post offices.

(19) During their meeting on November 3, 1977, the Screening Board first evaluated the applicants to determine those who did not meet the minimal qualifications for the three positions. These applicants were given no consideration for the positions. Eleven male applicants, fifteen male applicants and sixteen male applicants, were not considered minimally qualified for the postmaster positions in Franklin Park, Palatine, and Glenview, respectively.

(20) The Screening Board next evaluated those applicants, including Shidaker, who were determined to be at least minimally qualified for the positions. In evaluating these applicants, each Screening Board member used the following scoring system:

  8-7:   Outstanding Candidate
  6-5:   Very Good Candidate
  4-3:   Acceptable Candidate

When the scores were tallied, the highest score an applicant could receive was thirty-two. The Screening Board decided not to recommend further consideration of those candidates who received less than twenty points.

(21) At each of the three post offices there were one or more applicants who were automatically entitled to be interviewed and considered for the vacant position. The Screening Board did not evaluate these applicants.

(22) In connection with the review of Shidaker for promotion, both Besteda and Wright testified to advising the Screening Board of their first-hand knowledge of the conditions of the post office run by her. Wright, as a postal inspector, had investigated an instance of poor security in connection with the issuance of money orders and he described Shidaker's management as sloppy. Wright stated that he told the Screening Board that Christmas mail deliveries were two or three days late. Besteda also told the Screening Board that the Kenilworth post office was not well managed.

(23) There were 32 applications for the Postmaster of Glenview, and Shidaker was the only female. She received a numerical rating of 13, which placed her in the thirteenth position of 16 qualified applicants. The remaining 16 were deemed unqualified and were not numerically rated. The Screening Board recommended seven male applicants as "qualified and able to assume the duties of the position" at Glenview. Their scores ranged from 20 to 24.

(24) There were 32 applicants for Postmaster of Palatine, and Shidaker was the only female. She received a numerical rating of 11, which placed her in the sixteenth position of the 17 qualified applicants. The remaining 15 were deemed unqualified and were not numerically rated. The Screening Board recommended seven male applicants as "qualified and able to assume the duties of the position" at Palatine. Their scores ranged from 20 to 24.

(25) There were 28 applicants for Postmaster of Franklin Park, and Shidaker was the only female. She received a numerical rating of 11 which placed her in the fifteenth position of the 17 qualified applicants. The remaining 11 were deemed unqualified and were not numerically rated. The Screening Board recommended seven male applicants as "qualified and able to assume the duties of the position" at Franklin Park. Their scores ranged from 20 to 24.

(26) Plaintiff was not selected for any of the above vacant postmaster positions.

(28) The applicants designated in Santoro's letters to Booras were interviewed by the Regional Management Selection Board ("RMSB") of which Gilbert Brown, Regional Postmaster Selection Officer, was the executive secretary. The RMSB then recommended to the Postmaster General one applicant for consideration for each vacancy on the basis of the applicant's performance during the interview and his qualifications reflected in the materials, e.g. personal history summaries, and estimates of potential.

(29) The Postmaster General selected the following applicants to fill the positions:

  a. Postmaster at Franklin Park:
    Robert G. Boeckenhauer ("Boeckenhauer")
    Manager, Mail Processing (PES-21) Des Plaines,
    Illinois
  b. Postmaster at Palatine:
    James A. Daily ("Daily")
    Postmaster (PES-20)
    Bloomingdale, Illinois
  c. Postmaster at Glenview:
    William J. Soto ("Soto")
    Postmaster (PES-18)
    Algonquin, Illinois

Soto's name was not among those initially submitted by Booras for consideration for the Glenview vacancy. He had received only 19 points when he was evaluated by the Screening Board. However, some of those candidates who had earned 20 points and had been submitted for consideration withdrew. Thereafter, Santoro added Soto's name to the list of applicants to be considered for Glenview.

(30) Boeckenhauer's promotion was from a PES-21 position. He had 21 years of service and was serving in grade 21 since March of 1973. The Des Plaines Post Office is grade level PES-24. It serves a population of 105,000. There are 88 regular and three auxiliary routes. The authorized complement of employees is 232 including 14 supervisors.

(31) Daily's promotion was from PES-20. He had 12 years of service and was serving in grade 20 since August of 1975 as postmaster of the Bloomingdale, Illinois 60108 post office. That post office serves a population of 11,500. It is grade level PES-20. There are six regular and three auxiliary routes. The authorized complement of employees is 16 including one supervisor.

(32) Soto's promotion was from PES-18. He had 15 years of service and was serving in grade 18 since being appointed postmaster of Algonquin, Illinois in November of 1974. Algonquin, Illinois 60102 serves a population of 14,000. It is grade level PES-18. There are three regular and one auxiliary routes. The authorized complement of employees is 15 including one supervisor and five part-time employees. Revenues for fiscal year 1977 were $237,000 and operating expenses were $259,325. Soto's entry level position with the Postal ...


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