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CARTER v. CORNELL UNIV.

September 4, 1997

V. LORRAINE CARTER, Plaintiff, against CORNELL UNIVERSITY a/k/a CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDICAL COLLEGE and RONALD PHILLIPS, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY

 Plaintiff in this case claims that she has been denied promotions, harassed and otherwise discriminated against because of her race in violation of Title VII and related anti-discrimination laws. The following constitutes the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law on the subject.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 The Parties

 1. Plaintiff V. Lorraine Carter is a black female employed as a senior administrative secretary at defendant Cornell University Medical College ("Cornell"). (Joint Pretrial Order "PTO" at P5; Tr. at 456, 475.)

 2. Defendant Ronald Phillips is a white male who is also employed at defendant Cornell University Medical College. As manager of duplicating at the Biomedical Communications Department of defendant Cornell, he is plaintiff's direct supervisor. (PTO at P5; Tr. at 493-94)

 3. Defendant Cornell is a division of Cornell University and is located in New York City. (Joint Trial Exhibit 27 at 2.)

 Background

 4. Plaintiff was hired by Cornell as a temporary secretary in 1984. (Tr. at 456.) Approximately nine months later, she became a permanent employee. (Tr. at 457-58.)

 5. Since becoming a permanent employee, plaintiff has been promoted three times. In 1986, she was promoted to staff secretary. (Tr. at 465-66.) In 1987, she became an administrative secretary. (Tr. at 470) Two years later, she was promoted to senior administrative secretary. (Tr. at 473-74.)

 6. From 1985 to 1991, plaintiff received favorable performance evaluations. While the ratings vary from category to category, on average plaintiff was rated by her former supervisor, Michael Guilfoyle, as either "above average" or "commendable" in most categories.

 7. On June 21, 1991, plaintiff was given a raise as a result of a letter written by Dr. Robert Braude, the head of Cornell's Biomedical Department, to the Human Resources Department, which noted that she was an excellent employee. (Tr. at 479-80.)

 The 1991 and 1992 Managerial Positions

 8. In 1991, Mr. Guilfoyle left Cornell. (Tr. at 483.)

 9. Dr. Robert Braude, the head of Cornell's Biomedical Department, appointed defendant Phillips acting manager of the duplicating division on September 18, 1991. (Def. Ex. R; Tr. at 493-94.)

 10. Dr. Braude informed plaintiff of his decision to make defendant Phillips acting manager. (Tr. at 493-94; 497.) She responded by saying that she thought defendant Phillips would make a good manager but also indicated to Dr. Braude that she wanted the position. (Tr. at 494.)

 11. Defendant Phillips does not have a college degree (Tr. at 738-39), but plaintiff has an associate's degree in management and accounting from Monroe College. (Tr. at 461.)

 12. The position description issued for manager of duplicating by defendant Cornell indicates that a college degree is preferred. (Def. Ex. CC; Tr. at 739-40.)

 13. Plaintiff is also more experienced in office work than defendant Phillips. In fact, defendant Phillips was trained by plaintiff in office procedures soon after defendant Phillips was made acting manager. (Tr. at 494-95.)

 14. Plaintiff met all of the minimum requirements necessary to fill the position. (Def. Ex. CC.)

 16. In contrast, plaintiff's experience in production was limited. She had worked in the office section of the duplicating division, not the production section. (Tr. at 677-78.) Moreover, production was not one of her job responsibilities. (Joint Exhibit 21.)

 17. Though the job description for duplicating manager does not state explicitly that production experience is required, it does list the activities which the manager is expected to perform, and these activities could not be effectively performed by someone who did not have an intimate knowledge of production. For example, the manager is expected to "evaluate . . . quality and reliability of equipment and supplies," "analyze cost and maximum capacity of equipment and recommend changes to increase efficiency and productivity," "work with department administrators to determine equipment needs," "visit sites and insure equipment is working properly," "review and analyze existing equipment," "supervise the operation and maintenance of all department equipment," and "make on-site equipment inspection to insure that all equipment is working properly." (Def. Ex. CC.)

 18. Dr. Braude made defendant Phillips permanent manager in April of 1992, approximately seven months after he had become acting manager. (Def. Ex. S.)

 19. The reason that Dr. Braude chose defendant Phillips rather than plaintiff to fill the position of acting manager and ultimately permanent manager was because of his extensive experience in production relative to that of plaintiff. Neither race nor gender played a role in that decision. (Def. Ex. S.)

 1995 Promotion

 20. In 1995, a position for Administrative Assistant II was created in the duplicating department. (Tr. at 723-24.)

 21. In describing the position to plaintiff, defendant Phillips indicated that an applicant needed to have knowledge of medical art and photography in order to be able to fill it. (Tr. at 672-75.)

 22. The job description does not indicate that knowledge of medical art and photography is required (Joint Ex. 23.) However, plaintiff relied on defendant Phillips' representation that such knowledge was required and did not apply for the position. (Tr. at 675.) Indeed, her suspicion that applying would be futile was confirmed by Mr. Phillips' testimony that he did not think that she was as qualified as the person ultimately hired. (Tr. at 725.)

 23. Defendant Phillips did concede, however, that plaintiff was "minimally qualified" for the position of ...


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