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Pantchenko v. C. B. Dolge Co.

decided: August 15, 1978.

IRENE PANTCHENKO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
C. B. DOLGE COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeals from two judgments entered by the District of Connecticut, Jon. O. Newman, Judge, dismissing two actions for damages by an employee against her former employer, one alleging discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000, et seq., and the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, and the other claiming a violation of Title VII based upon the employer's refusal to furnish letters of recommendation in retaliation for the plaintiff's having filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

Before Feinberg, Mansfield and Oakes, Circuit Judges.

Author: Per Curiam

Irene Pantchenko appeals from two judgments entered by the District of Connecticut, Jon O. Newman, Judge, dismissing two separate actions instituted by her against her former employer, C. B. Dolge Co., a Connecticut manufacturer of floor polishes, detergents, aerosol and cleaning products, which had employed her as a chemist.

Appellant's first action, No. 15,581, filed on August 17, 1973, alleged that Dolge, in violation of both Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, Et seq., and the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, had discriminated against her in terms of employment conditions and pay because of her sex, and had subjected her to verbal and physical abuse, assaults and improper sexual advances. Her second action, No. B-74-251, filed on July 1, 1974, alleged that in violation of Title VII Dolge, after she had left its employ in January, 1971, had refused to give her a letter of recommendation and had made disparaging and untrue statements about her to her prospective employers, all in retaliation for her filing with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission an employment discrimination charge against it. In the first action appellant sought $150,000 damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and in the second $50,000 damages plus attorney's fees and other appropriate relief.

After consolidation of the two actions, Judge Newman, on June 10, 1976, granted Dolge's motion for summary judgment in the second suit, No. B-74-251, on the ground that since appellant was no longer a Dolge employee when the retaliation allegedly occurred, the conduct did not fall "within the purview" of Title VII, which deals with acts of employers and does not expressly prohibit an employer from refusing to furnish a recommendation for future employment, although it explicitly prohibits an employment agency or a labor organization from refusing to refer a person for employment. Simultaneously Judge Newman denied Dolge's motion for summary judgment dismissing the first action, No. 15,581, and after a non-jury trial of this suit he, on September 21, 1977, filed a Memorandum Decision in which he made detailed findings of fact to the effect that appellant's claims were not supported by persuasive evidence and awarded judgment on the merits in favor of Dolge.

Discussion

Action No. 15,581

Having alleged violations of Title VII by Dolge, appellant assumed the burden in the district court of adducing sufficient evidence to make out a prima facie case of discrimination. Upon this appeal, moreover, Judge Newman's findings may be set aside only upon a showing that they are "clearly erroneous," Rule 52(a), F.R.Civ.P. No such showing has been made by appellant. On the contrary, the trial judge's findings are amply supported by the record, which shows that, although appellant was a competent, conscientious and highly qualified chemist and employed by Dolge as such, she had had no prior experience with floor polishes when she commenced her employment. Thereafter she was not unfairly paid in comparison to male employees doing comparable work, after taking into consideration the nature and extent of her education, experience and responsibilities.

Bearing in mind the deference that must be accorded to the trial judge's appraisal of the credibility of the witnesses testifying before him, we cannot label as clearly erroneous his findings that plaintiff had failed to sustain her claims of harassment, assault and sexual molestation by a fair preponderance of the evidence.

The judgment in Action No. 15,581 must therefore be affirmed.

Action No. B-74,251

Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 provides in pertinent part:

"It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against Any of his employees or applicants for employment . . . because he has made a charge . . . ...


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