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JONES v. CITY OF MOUNT VERNON

September 27, 2000

DELFRIEDA JONES, PLAINTIFF,
V.
CITY OF MOUNT VERNON; CITY OF MOUNT VERNON DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, BUREAU OF POLICE; AND CITY OF MOUNT VERNON, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION; DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, Senior District Judge.

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Delfrieda Jones brings this action against defendants the City of Mount Vernon (the "City"), and the Mount Vernon Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Police and Civil Service Commission pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y.Exec.Law § 290 et seq. Plaintiff claims that she was not hired as a police officer by the City because of her sex.*fn1 This Court conducted a two-day bench trial on June 19 and June 20, 2000, and now sets forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). For the reasons discussed below, we enter judgment in favor of defendants on all claims.

FINDINGS OF FACT

In a document entitled "Examination," the Mount Vernon Civil Service Commission (the "Commission") announced that Examination No. 66-487 for the position of police officer would take place on October 29, 1983. (Defs.Ex.A.) On September 9, 1983, plaintiff completed an "Application for Examination for Employment" for the position of police officer and submitted it to the Commission for processing. (Pl.Ex. 1; Defs.Ex. B.)

Two staff members, Rita Roque and Lavinia Hodgins, oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Commission. Members of the Commission came into the office at least twice a month for meetings. (Tr. 35, 160-61.) Roque has been the secretary to the Commission since 1978, (Tr. 160), and Hodgins has been the senior typist since 1977. (Tr. 35.) Roque's and Hodgins' job duties include typing civil service examination notices, making certain types of medical and psychological examination appointments for applicants, reviewing the paperwork submitted by applicants and physicians, and generally performing all of the clerical functions associated with processing civil service applications. (Tr. 36, 161.) Roque testified that in the last twenty years, she and Hodgins have processed thousands of applications. (Tr. 161.)

Plaintiff took the written Civil Service Examination on October 29, 1983, and a physical agility test on April 7,1984. She received a letter from Roque dated May 22, 1984 notifying her that her final examination rating was seventy-three percent and that she was number thirty-five on the "eligible list" for Mount Vernon residents. (Pl.Ex. 2; Defs.Ex. C.) The letter informed plaintiff that the duration of the eligibility list was two years "unless it is exhausted prior to that date." (Id.)

In a letter dated August 12, 1985, plaintiff was notified that she should appear at the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center for medical testing related to her application for employment as a City police officer. (Pl.Ex. 5; Defs.Ex. E.) On August 30, 1985, plaintiff submitted to the medical tests required of all applicants, including measurement of her height and weight. (Pl.Ex. 6; Defs.Ex. F.)

At the time plaintiff sought employment with the City, the police department utilized the height/weight standards promulgated by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Municipal Police Training Council (the "Municipal Training Council"). (Pl.Exs. 11, 12; Defs.Ex. D.) The height/weight standards are set forth in a chart in a manual developed by the Municipal Training Council. (Id.) The manual states that if the weight of an applicant is within twelve percent of the upper weight limit set forth on the table for the applicant's height and body frame, it will be deemed acceptable. (Defs.Ex. D at 5.) However, if the weight of the applicant is more than twelve percent over the maximum weight:

the candidate may, at his option and at his own expense, have further fitness and stress tests performed on him so that he can present the examining physician with evidence of his fitness in spite of his failure to meet the weight standard. If the candidate has such tests performed by an appropriate expert, the results of those tests should be presented to the examining physician who then may certify the candidate for appointment if he asserts in his medical opinion that the candidate is fit and can perform the necessary physical duties of a police officer.

(Id.)

The Commission was charged with checking the medical reports issued by the physicians who performed the medical examinations of the applicants. Using a checklist supplied by New York State, Roque or Hodgins would check the data on the medical forms against the various requirements for police officer candidates. Hodgins testified that she would check the weight of the applicants against the forms supplied by New York State, adding twelve percent to the maximum, to ensure that the applicant met the guidelines. (Tr. 41-42.) Hodgins said that she would "usually" check the applicant's weight against the height/weight ratio even if the examining physician had indicated on the applicant's medical examination form that the applicant met the weight standard. (Tr. 42.)

Plaintiffs medical examination report stated that plaintiff was "mildly overweight (about 12 pounds)," (Pl.Ex. 6; Defs. Ex. F), and a box was checked on the form indicating that plaintiff met the physical fitness standards required by New York State. The form also stated that plaintiff "is on a strict low calorie diet" and that her weight "defects" were "remediable." (Id.) Plaintiff was recorded as being five feet, five and one-half inches tall and 170 pounds with a medium frame. (Id.)

The parties stipulated at trial that "every applicant on that [Civil Service] list and on other [Civil Service] lists received a letter comparable to that which the plaintiff received, notifying him that he did not meet the weight requirements and not notifying him of the alternative of the stress test." (Tr. 49.) Plaintiffs medical examination form, which plaintiff signed, stated that "[i]f weight is over or under the acceptable weight shown in the tables by an excess of 12%, attach results of additional stress and fitness tests pursuant to page 5 of the standards." (Pl.Ex. 6; Defs.Ex. F.)

Plaintiff testified that she read that portion of the form before signing the document. Plaintiff testified as follows:

Q. . . . That [Pl.Ex. 6; Defs.Ex. F] was a document you read before you signed it?

A. Yes.

Q. And you read that portion of the document?

A. I'm pretty sure I did.

Q. Did you ask anyone about the stress test that was mentioned in this document?

A. No.

(Tr. 17.)

Plaintiff testified that after she received the letter in September, she did not ask anyone at the Commission about the option of taking a stress test, nor did anyone from the Commission inform her of the alternative of taking a stress test. (Tr. 9, 19.) Before the expiration of the eligibility list, plaintiff orally informed the Commission that she had lost ten pounds. As a result, the Commission scheduled her for additional medical tests. (Tr. 9-11.) Plaintiff submitted to additional medical testing at the Mount Vernon Hospital, Pulmonary Function Lab. The tests indicated that ...


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