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Keating v. Paulson

October 25, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall


Plaintiff Marian Keating brought suit against defendant Henry Paulson, Secretary of the United States Treasury Department, alleging violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, Keating, who is white, alleges that she was unlawfully denied promotion, because of her race, to a management position in the consolidated Chicago Regional Office of the Internal Revenue Service's Facilities Management Branch, in favor of Melinda Geddes, an African-American. After a two and a half day bench trial and oral arguments, the court finds that Keating has failed to meet her burden of proof by providing insufficient evidence to enable a reasonable finder of fact to determine that the IRS intentionally discriminated against her because of her race. The court therefore enters judgment in favor of the defendant.


In the late summer of 1994, a substantial consolidation and reorganization of the administrative structure of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") Regional and District Offices in the greater Chicago area resulted in the creation of a new management position. The organizational title of the vacancy was Chief of the Facilities Management Team, which was a section of the IRS's Facilities Management Branch. Joint Ex. 2. The official title of the new position in the IRS's management structure was that of Supervisory Management Analyst, and the position was classified as GS-343-13. Joint Ex. 1. The number "343" in the classification refers to the occupation code (Management and Program Analysis) and the "13" refers to the pay grade. Joint Ex. 2; Joint Exhibit 6, 112. The position was posted on September 19, 1994. Joint Ex 1.

The duties of the new position included a broad range of managerial tasks, including space and property management at various IRS office sites, records, administration, addressing property and furniture requisitions and allocations, physical security and emergency planning, safety management, employee I.D. media, and building and transportation management. Joint Ex. 3 at 140. An important role of the person hired to fill the new position was coordinating with, and meeting the requirements of, the operating managers of the various IRS office locations within the assigned program area, known colloquially as the "customers." Id. Individuals desiring to apply for the position were required to submit Form 4356 (Application for Promotion/Reassignment), Form 9511 (Self Assessment of Readiness), Form 9512 (Management Achievement Program ("MAP") Entry Level Resume and Level of Readiness), and a current performance appraisal. Joint Ex. 1.

A total of nine individuals applied and were considered eligible for the position, including plaintiff Marian Keating ("Keating"). Joint Ex. 11. Keating, a white female, possesses an Associate's degree in Mid-Management. Id. She was, at the time of her application, Chief of the Office Environment Section, with an official title of Supervisory Management Analyst, GS-343-12, in the Resource Management Division of the IRS Chicago District Office. Id. In that position, Keating's responsibilities were largely managerial, and included providing supervision and leadership to management analysts, management assistants, and employees, developing work schedules and operating plans, and conducting performance evaluations and dispute resolutions. Joint Ex. 5. Keating timely submitted the documents required to complete her application and submitted to an interview on October 25, 1994 with Ray Hambaugh ("Hambaugh"), Chief of the Facilities Management Branch ("FMB") under the new organizational plan, and Sharon Hornsby ("Hornsby"), the newly-appointed Director of Support Services of the Chicago Host Site. Joint Ex. 17; Joint Ex. 26 at 16, Joint Ex 15 at 64. However, on or shortly after October 26, 1994, Hambaugh announced to Keating that the position had gone to another applicant, Melinda Geddes ("Geddes"), an African-American female.

At that time, Geddes was a staff assistant reporting to George Davis ("Davis"), the Chief of FMB prior to the reorganization, with an occupational category rating of GS-301-12. Joint Ex. 16; Joint Ex. 13 at 210-12. The occupational code designator "301" stands for "Miscellaneous Administration and Program." Joint Ex. 6 at 112. Geddes possesses a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Her position was also largely managerial; she served as executive assistant to the Chief of FMB, performed research and recommended changes in work assignment, procedures, organization, staffing. Joint Ex. 18 at 6G. Geddes acted as liaison and representative for the FMB chief and would substitute briefly as Acting Chief during periods of Davis' absence. Id. Geddes also timely filed the requisite application documents, with the exception that instead of filing a Form 9512, she filed instead a Form 9512-A, a difference that the court addresses below. Geddes was interviewed by Hornsby and Hambaugh on October 24, 1994 and was informed shortly thereafter that she had received promotion to the new position. Joint Ex. 15, 64.

In all, a total of nine individuals applied for the position; two were male and the rest were female. Joint Ex. 7. Of the male candidates, one was white and the other African-American. Id. Two of the females were white, including Keating, one was Hispanic, and the four remaining candidates, including Geddes, were African-American. Id. An alleged tenth candidate, Georgia Duckworth, may have been interviewed for the position, or for another position that was being filled concurrently.*fn1

A. Keating and Geddes: A Comparison

1. MAP Entry Level Forms 9512 and 9512-A

Both candidates were certified by Charlene Carter ("Carter"), an IRS personnel specialist, as being MAP-eligible for the position at issue, a prerequisite for the promotion. Joint Ex. 11 at 221; Joint Ex. 12 at 211. MAP-eligible refers to a candidate's having met the requirements of the Management Achievement Program for the position. An important part of the evaluation is the MAP Entry Level Form, Form 9512 (the "9512 Form"), which is an element of the candidate's application required by the position vacancy announcement. Joint Ex. 11 at 6C-225. The 9512 Form consists of three parts:

(1) a MAP Entry Level Resume which is completed by the candidate (Part I); (2) a MAP Entry Level of Readiness Form with an evaluation of the candidate completed by her supervisor (Part II); and (3) a Self-Assessment of Readiness completed by the candidate (Part III). Id. Most relevant to this case is Part II, which is the only portion of the 9512 Form in which the candidate's managers have input. The candidate is rated across four "MAP competencies": (1) Interpersonal Skills; (2) Analysis and Decision Making; (3) Managing Systems and Organizations; and (4) Understanding IRS Operations.*fn2 Id. at 223. Within each competency, a candidate could be rated as "outstanding," "very good," "good," or "needs development." Id.

Keating was rated on Part II of her 9512 Form by Davis, her immediate supervisor, on September 30, 1994. Id. Davis' ratings of Keating were reviewed by Jacquie S. Hardy ("Hardy"), Chief of the Resources Management Division and Keating's second level manager, on the same day. Id. Davis ranked Keating as being "very good" in competency (1); "outstanding" in competency (2); and "very good" in competencies (3) and (4). Id. Hardy, in turn, ranked Keating as "good" in competency (1); "very good" in competency (2); and "very good" in competencies (3) and (4).*fn3 Id.

Geddes did not submit a 9512 Form with her application. Instead, and like all of the other African-American candidates, Geddes submitted a MAP Entry Level Form; Form 9512-A (the "9512-A Form") instead. Joint Ex. 12 at 212-17. The 9512-A Form likewise consists of three parts: (1) an Entry Level Resume (Part I); (2) an Entry Level/Level of Readiness evaluation form (Part II), and (3) a Self-Assessment of Readiness completed by the candidate (Part III). Id. As with Keating's 9512 Form, Part II of the 9512-A Form is most pertinent to this case. In most respects, the 9512-A Form closely resembles the 9512 Form. Id. at 32.5. The only significant difference between the two is the qualities by which the candidates are rated by their managers. Instead of the four categories of "MAP competencies," the 9512-A form features four corresponding categories of "MAP attributes." Id. These are: (1) Interpersonal Focus; (2) Productivity Focus; (3) Value Focus; and (4) Workforce Focus.*fn4 Id. As with the 9512 Form, the candidate can be rated for each attribute on the 9512-A Form as "outstanding," "very good," "good," or "needs development." Id.

As with Keating, Geddes' 9512-A Form was completed by Geddes' first and second level managers (again Davis and Hardy); the 9512-A Form was signed by both managers on September 29, 1994. Id. Geddes was rated as "outstanding" in the attribute (1); "very good" in attributes (2) and (3); and "outstanding" in attribute (4). Apparently both managers concurred in these evaluations as there are no separate ratings marked by the division chief. Id.

Part I of both the 9512 Form and the 9512-A Form (the MAP Entry Level Resume) contains identical sections in which the candidate's awards and special achievements for the three years prior to the application are listed. For purposes of comparison, Keating's and Geddes' entries are listed below.

Keating received Distinguished Performance awards for the years 1991-1994 and a Special Act Award as RMD Manager of the Quarter. She assisted the district coordinator in the annual Combined Federal Campaign in 1991, and supervised the establishment of the Olympia Fields facility in 1991.

Geddes also received Distinguished Performance awards in 1993 and 1994; a Vision Award in 1993; and two ...

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