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THOMPSON v. ARKANSAS TRANSP. DEPT.

June 7, 1988

DONYA THOMPSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARKANSAS TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT, et al., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOODS

 HENRY WOODS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff Donya Thompson was an "employee" of defendant Arkansas Department of Transportation (hereinafter ADT), and ADT is an "employer" as those terms are defined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 as amended.

 2. Plaintiff is a female citizen of the United States who resides in Pulaski County, Arkansas. She was employed by ATD on or about October 1, 1977 up until January 6, 1986, at which time she was terminated. She worked in the capacity of Enforcement Officer of ADT. She was the first female Enforcement Officer employed by ADT, and at the time of her discharge was the only female out of 23 enforcement officers.

 3. The defendants are individual members of the ADT who are sued in their official capacities. At the time plaintiff was discharged, the members of the Commission were Nelson Ladd, Chairman, and Bob Hoffman and John Allen.

 4. The Arkansas Transportation Department is administered by the Transportation Commission which consists of three persons appointed by the Governor. It deals with the safety rules covering the condition of tractor trailor rigs and the qualifications of their drivers.

 5. Prior to the appointment of Nelson Ladd as Chairman of the Commission, Ms. Jean Furr was administrator of the Commission and was the overall supervisor of the enforcement officers. Their chief was William Beeson who had served in this capacity for 27 years until his retirement on April 12, 1985. Mr. Beeson's exact title was Director of Enforcement. (Beeson Dep., p. 5).

 6. Mr. Beeson hired the plaintiff in 1977 on the recommendation of the then Chairman of the Commission, Robert Moore. (Beeson Dept, pp. 13-15). Plaintiff worked directly under Mr. Beeson until his retirement. She was promoted to corporal on July 1, 1983. (PX 7).

 7. Beeson, now deceased but whose evidentiary deposition was introduced by plaintiff, had a high opinion of her. Even though he generally did not like the idea of having women in law enforcement, he regarded plaintiff as an exception. (Beeson Dep., pp. 19-21). He testified that "she did me just as good a job as any man had. . . . I couldn't hardly read their reports. And hers were a picture, hers were very concise, very brief and to the point. She'd write her reports to where somebody that didn't know anything about our work could tell what happened." (Beeson Dep., p. 48).

 8. Mr. Beeson's opinion of plaintiff and her work was corroborated by abundant and credible testimony. I find that plaintiff was an excellent employee who performed her work in a very efficient manner. This was the virtually unanimous opinion of her co-workers in the agency and other law enforcement officers with whom she worked. There was very little testimony to the contrary, and I do not credit it.

 9. Plaintiff's troubles began when Nelson Ladd became Chairman of the Commission and when he later named his brother-in-law, Robert Black, as Director of the Enforcement Division to succeed Mr. Beeson. Black had worked under Beeson. The latter did not think highly of Black's job performance but did not complain because of Ladd's position. (Beeson Dep., pp. 25-26).

 10. As the only woman in the enforcement division, plaintiff became the focus of Chairman Ladd's anti-female bias. According to Ms. Furr, the former administrator, such bias was virulent. I credit her testimony, particularly in view of the unjustified actions taken by Ladd against plaintiff. Mrs. Furr, who has now retired, testified that Ladd told her not to recruit any more females as enforcement officers. Ladd was not there when she was hired and resented her presence in the enforcement division. She further testified that he told her not to hire any blacks and not to hire any unattractive females for positions in the office.

 11. Ms. Furr testified that when Black was appointed as Director of Enforcement she was completely shorn of her responsibilities over the enforcement division. All supervision was assumed by Ladd and his brother-in-law Black. It may be of some significance that ...


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