admissible evidence which would allow the trier of fact
rationally to conclude that the employment decision had not
been motivated by discriminatory animus." Id.
Once the defendant has articulated a non-discriminatory
reason for the plaintiff's discharge, the burden shifts back
to the plaintiff to prove that the nondiscriminatory reasons
proffered by the defendant are simply a pretext for
discrimination rather than the actual basis of the defendant's
decision. Id. at 256, 101 S.Ct. at 1095. A plaintiff may
prevail at this stage by either directly showing evidence of
discriminatory motive, or indirectly by showing that the
defendant's given reason is not worthy of credence. Id.
There is no dispute that Fahie is a member of a protected
class. Accordingly, to determine whether Fahie has proved a
prima facie case, the real issues in dispute are whether he
was satisfying the normal requirements of his work and whether
he was either replaced by a non-minority worker or, if he was
not replaced, that non-minority workers were retained while he
There is conflicting evidence as to whether plaintiff was
performing his work in a satisfactory manner. Both sides
called other MCC employees as witnesses and their evaluations
of Fahie's performance was mixed. Lester Jones, a correctional
supervisor, and Arthur Brown, a training officer, both found
Fahie's work satisfactory. Conversely, John Sanders, a
counselor, testified that he thought plaintiff's work was
poor. Adam Wanamaker, a lieutenant, also rated plaintiff's
performance as poor. Martin Gamble, the Chief Instructor at
Glynco Training Center in Georgia, testified that Fahie had
difficulty accepting constructive criticism. Willie Smith, a
lieutenant, gave Fahie a mixed review.
Additionally, Fahie's written evaluations must be
considered. Although these evaluations tend to be more
complimentary than the testimony and, indeed, generally rate
his performance as "satisfactory," they also include some
negative comments, particularly about Fahie's difficulty
The specific incidents testified to must also be taken into
consideration. There was much testimony, including from Fahie
himself, that he was unable to enforce the rules without
assistance from the senior officers. Although most of these
problems appear to have taken place at the beginning of his
employment, there was also testimony that Fahie was still
having problems six months later.
Weighing all the evidence together, the court finds that
Fahie has not shown that he was satisfying the normal
requirements of his job. Working with people, both the inmates
and other staff members, is an important part of being a
correctional officer. In particular, it cannot be doubted that
the Bureau has an interest in having correctional officers who
are able to discipline and control the inmates without
engaging their animosity. Surely this must be considered one
of the most important duties of the position. There is
sufficient evidence that Fahie had difficulty controlling the
inmates and working with other people to conclude that he was
not doing satisfactory work.
Fahie has offered no evidence that a non-minority worker was
hired to fill his position. However, he has testified that
non-minority workers were retained while he was replaced. In
particular, he testified that out of the eight trainees in his
class, four black and four white, all four blacks were
terminated and all four whites retained. Plaintiff has also
provided an exhibit breaking down the removals and
terminations*fn3 by race for the period from
December 1984 to February 6, 1985.*fn4 According to this
exhibit, of the twelve individuals terminated during this
period, eight were black.
Plaintiff's evidence regarding non-minorities retained while
he was terminated is too casual to be persuasive. Fahie has
not presented any evidence regarding the performance records
of any of the retained or terminated employees. For all the
court knows, all those who lost their jobs were terminated for
just cause and all those retained were superior employees.
Exhibit 30 is likewise not helpful. Not only does it not
provide any performance history of the employees terminated,
but it even fails to break down the groups in percentages.
Assuming that Exhibit 30 is only for correctional officers,
the fact that two-thirds of those terminated in this time
period were black does not seem out of line when 70-80% of the
correctional officers were African-American.
Evening assuming, arguendo, that plaintiff has made out a
prima facie case by showing that his work was satisfactory and
non-minorities were retained while he was terminated, the
Bureau has articulated a sufficient non-discriminatory reason
for plaintiff's termination — that his work was of marginal
quality. Even if the court were to find for the purposes of
plaintiff's prima facie case that he was performing his duties
in a satisfactory manner, the Bureau's honestly held, although
erroneous, conviction that Fahie was not a good employee is a
legitimate ground for dismissal. Dister v. Continental Group,
Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1116 (2d Cir. 1988) ("the reasons tendered
need not be well-advised, but merely truthful").
The trial testimony showed that Fahie got off on the wrong
foot and, try as he might, was not able to resurrect his
superior's opinion of his work. Whether this is fair or
sensible is beyond the purview of the court. Although
employers are not free under Title VII to fire employees for
a discriminatory reason, they remain free to fire employees
based on an incorrect assessment of their performance.
Additionally, Fahie's evidence of racial bias is
insufficient to prove pretext. Fahie has testified that
Captain Bettencourt said on at least two occasions that she
was going to "fire [plaintiff's] ass" and told him to "get
[his] black ass out of the office."*fn5 Bettencourt has
denied making these statements. While this language is hardly
enlightened and may properly be characterized as abusive,
without more it is insufficient to sustain a Title VII claim.
Captain Bettencourt may have been offensive, but a
discrimination claim cannot be based on a lack of manners,
particularly since there is no evidence that Captain
Bettencourt was verbally less harsh to other employees.
Plaintiff's complaint about the instructor or his classmates
at Glynco cannot be considered since there is no evidence that
any of these people had any involvement in the decision to
In sum, the court finds that the plaintiff has not met his
burden of showing that he was performing his work in a
satisfactory manner or that non-minority workers were retained
while he was replaced. Accordingly, he has failed to make out
a prima facie case of discrimination, and therefore judgment
is for the defendant.
IT IS SO ORDERED.