The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAPIRO
Francis B. Payne, a Black female, brought this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16 and § 2000e-3, following a final adverse decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
Plaintiff alleged her August 8, 1980 removal from employment as a Quality Control Specialist in the Office of Field Assessment, Social Security Administration ("SSA"), Department of Health and Human Services, was based on racial and/or sexual discrimination or reprisal for having filed previous discrimination complaints.
1. There is no credible evidence that plaintiff's removal was in any way influenced by the fact that plaintiff is a Black female.
2. There is no credible evidence that plaintiff's removal was influenced by or in reprisal for the plaintiff's having filed prior administrative complaints of discrimination.
This memorandum of decision constitutes the findings of fact and conclusions of law required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a).
The following facts were agreed upon prior to trial:
Mr. Niles Brown, a (Black) male, who became plaintiff's first-line supervisor in March, 1979, notified plaintiff by memorandum dated May 9, 1980 that he proposed to remove plaintiff from federal service based on four reasons:
1. Plaintiff's failure to comply with appropriate leave procedures and her being absent without leave.
2. Plaintiff's misrepresentation of the amount of work she had performed.
3. Plaintiff's failure to meet Agency productivity standards and her failure to perform work assigned to her.
4. Plaintiff's prior disciplinary record which included five disciplinary actions against her between May, 1979 and January, 1980.
A. The first reason for proposing plaintiff's removal was plaintiff's failure to comply with appropriate leave procedures and her being absent without leave (A.R. 18-22). With the exception of two days (February 29 and March 6, 1980), plaintiff was absent from work beginning February 22, 1980 until the date of the proposed removal, May 9, 1980 (A.R. 18-22, 30-46, 49-94). Of the 67 working days in this period, plaintiff at various times requested one day of emergency annual leave (February 28, 1980), four days of sick leave (February 22, 25, 26 and 27, 1980), and 36 days of advance sick leave (March 3-5, 10-21, 24-28, 31, April 1-5, 7-23, 1980). Plaintiff submitted no leave request for the remainder of the period.
Plaintiff's extended absence from work was preceded by Mr. Brown's instructions to her on February 21, 1980 to undertake a field assignment in West Virginia; the trip was to commence on February 26, 1980 (A.R. 45, 63). Plaintiff protested the assignment on the ground that she was afraid to fly; she did not appear for work the following day or week, and telephoned Mr. Brown to request four days of sick leave and one day of emergency annual leave for this period (A.R. 63-65). Mr. Brown conditionally approved the leave pending receipt of medical documentation of a bona fide illness and some explanation of the basis for emergency annual leave (A.R. 63). When plaintiff returned to work on February 29, 1980, the medical documentation which she submitted consisted of a note dated February 21, 1980 from the office of L.A. Principato, M.D., that stated the plaintiff was under his care and that, "Patient is truly apprehensive of traveling in arears [sic] of mountains and super highways and expressways. Patient is unable to travel in arears [sic] of this type due to a traumatic experience in the Western Park of Maryland, while conducting utilization reviews" (A.R. 38-39).
Upon inquiry, Dr. Principato stated that the note had been written by one of his office staff, that his information concerning plaintiff was based solely upon his conversation with her, that plaintiff's complaints had been limited to fear of automobile travel, and that he felt plaintiff could travel by plane, train and, quite possibly, by automobile, if accompanied by another (A.R. 41-42, 48).
Mr. Brown accordingly denied the requested sick leave on February 29, 1980 (A.R. 36) and instructed plaintiff to undertake the field assignment (A.R. 31-32, 41-42, 44-46).
The only explanation plaintiff provided for the request for emergency annual leave was "personal business" (A.R. 36, 67). Mr. Brown denied the emergency annual leave for plaintiff's failure to indicate any unforeseen circumstances preventing plaintiff from requesting annual leave, as normally required (A.R. 90), in advance of taking the leave (A.R. 31-32, 36, 44-46).
Thereafter, plaintiff telephoned the office on March 3 and 4, 1980 to request advanced sick leave for those days and last returned to work on March 6, 1980 (A.R. 45-46). At that time, the only medical documentation she submitted in support of her request for advance sick leave for March 3-5, 1979 was a leave request form which she had filled out and which appears to have been signed by Dr. Principato (A.R. 37). Mr. Brown, in a memorandum dated March 7, 1980, explained the basis for denying the request (A.R. 56-57) and again advised plaintiff in a ...