The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert P. Patterson, Jr., District Judge.
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND DECISION
This is a Title VII civil rights action brought under
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., by Dr. Satya Jindal against his employers,
which was tried on five days in October and November 1989. The
following constitutes the Court's findings of fact and
conclusions of law.
Dr. Satya Jindal, an organic chemist employed as a Research
Scientist IV, grade 27, at the Nathan Kline Institute for
Psychiatric Research (the "Institute") charges that the
Institute's failure to promote him above grade 27 from 1981 to
the present is the result of unlawful discrimination on the basis
of national origin. He seeks retroactive promotion to Research
Scientist V, grade 31, which amounts to a $4,000 raise, with back
pay to May, 1987. See Plaintiff's Proposed Conclusions of Law
at ¶ 21.
The Nathan Kline Institute is a multi-disciplinary research
organization, which is separately administered within defendant
New York State Office of Mental Health ("OMH"). The Institute
focuses its research in the area of mental illness, including
chronic mental illness, major psychosis, dementia and depression.
Dr. Jindal is an East Asian who was born and raised in India,
where he attended college. Later he attended graduate school at
Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, earning his Ph.D.
in organic chemistry in 1965. Thereafter, he pursued
post-doctoral studies at Northwestern University and Case Western
Reserve University. He also worked at the Worcester Institute for
Experimental Biology and the Medical University of South Carolina
before coming to the Institute in 1975. Dr. Jindal came to the
Institute possessing special training in gas chromatography and
mass spectrometry ("GC/MS"), a then emerging technology. GC/MS
permits users to disaggregate more complex drugs into their
molecular structure and identify substances at a molecular level
in samples of blood, urine, or other specimens used for
At the Institute Dr. Jindal, who was hired as a Research
Scientist I, grade 19, worked with Dr. Per Vestergaard on
specific projects which, for the most part, involved analysis of
the molecules of cocaine by use of GC/MS, and then identifying
the metabolites of cocaine in the urine of patients and animals.
Dr. Jindal was the first scientist to develop stable isotope
labels for cocaine. This work led Dr. Jindal to collaborate on
eleven scientific papers with Dr. Vestergaard between 1977 and
1979. He received several promotions and by 1979 achieved the
level of Research Scientist III, grade 25. These promotions,
which were made by Dr. Kline, then Director of the Institute, did
not require action by the Peer Review Committee. During this
period Dr. Jindal collaborated with other scientists. Dr.
Vestergaard regarded Dr. Jindal's work as "very excellent" and in
May 1979 requested that Dr. Jindal be again promoted.*fn1
In April 1980 Dr. Vestergaard reiterated the request and soon
thereafter the Peer Review Committee unanimously recommended Dr.
Jindal's promotion to the next grade, grade 27, his present rank.
However, Dr. Jindal did not receive that promotion immediately.
All recommendations of the Peer Review Committee were subject to
the approval of Dr. Kline. Dr. Kline asked the administrative
assistant of the Peer Review Committee for additional information
on Dr. Jindal, and his Deputy Director, Dr. Nagle, made a similar
inquiry, although he had voted for the promotion as a member of
the Peer Review Committee.
Since the Peer Review Committee had met in June, 1980, Dr.
Jindal inquired of Dr. Kline in September 1980 as to the status
of his promotion. In an October 1980 reply, Dr. Kline implied
that Peer Review Committee action was still required under a new
policy and that the committee would meet again in April. In March
the Peer Review Committee administrative assistant asked Dr.
Kline whether Dr. Jindal should be considered at the April 1981
meeting and was directed to hold the matter over until the June
meeting. There is no evidence that Dr. Jindal's promotion was
acted on at the June meeting of the Committee. During this
period, Dr. Vestergaard made another request for Dr. Jindal's
promotion and Dr. Kline finally acted in August 1981, approving
Dr. Jindal's promotion
to grade 27 more than two years after Dr. Vestergaard's original
Dr. Vestergaard left the Institute in August 1981. Dr. Kline
then acted as Dr. Jindal's sole supervisor. Dr. Kline signed
annual evaluations of Dr. Jindal's performance, none of which
were critical of Dr. Jindal's performance. Significantly, Dr.
Jindal's performance in 1982 was evaluated at "above job rate."
In September 1982, Dr. Kline appointed the present Peer Review
Committee for the Institute; its members were all non-minorities.
In December 1982 Dr. Kline died, and Dr. Robert Cancro, the
present Director of the Institute, replaced him. In June 1983 Dr.
Cancro ordered a reorganization of the Institute, placing Dr.
Jindal and his assistant, Teresa Lutz, under Mr. Thomas Cooper in
the newly-formed Division of Analytical Psychopharmacology. Mr.
Cooper then developed "General Guidelines" for his Division,
which placed restrictions on proposed collaborations and
individual research projects.
Although Dr. Jindal's annual performance, as evaluated by Mr.
Cooper in the following years, 1983 — 1987, remained "highly
effective," and although Mr. Cooper never indicated to Dr. Jindal
that there were any serious deficiencies in his performance, Mr.
Cooper did not suggest Dr. Jindal to the Peer Review Committee
for promotion. In fact, during those years, Mr. Cooper never
considered whether or not Dr. Jindal should be promoted.
In contrast, during that period the Institute promoted several
non-East Asian scientists to grades above 27. They include
Maarten Reith (grade 31), Barbara Feitel (grade 31), Morris
Meisner (grade 35), Micky Kohn (grade 35), Leslie Prichep (grade
31), and Mr. Saito (hired at grade 31).
In May 1987, Dr. Jindal wrote the Commissioner of OMH and
complained that he had not been promoted or considered for
promotion since 1981. In June, OMH replied by letter to Dr.
Jindal, stating Dr. Cancro had annually reviewed the performance
evaluations for Dr. Jindal as part of the Institute's peer review
process. It also said that if the Division Chief, Mr. Cooper, and
the director agree that an employee should be considered for peer
review, nomination to the Peer Review Committee is made at that
time. According to the evidence presented at trial, this
demonstrates a clear misunderstanding by OMH of the process being
followed at the Institute. Dr. Cancro testified that he did not
routinely review the evaluations of NKI employees nor conduct
annual meetings at which he and Mr. Cooper discussed the
evaluations of Mr. Cooper's subordinates. Although Dr. Cancro
received a copy of OMH's response, he made no attempt to correct
the discrepancy. In fact, Dr. Cancro testified at trial that he
had not reviewed any of Dr. Jindal's evaluations until after the
filing of this lawsuit, did not routinely review evaluations of
Institute employees, and did not have annual meetings with Mr.
Cooper to discuss Mr. Cooper's performance evaluations.
After seeing Dr. Jindal's letter to the Commissioner of OMH,
Dr. Cancro asked Mr. Cooper to review Dr. Jindal for promotion,
but Mr. Cooper did not report back. Dr. Cancro did not pursue the
matter, and in 1987 no peer review of Dr. Jindal resulted. This