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Clark v. Veneman

November 7, 2005

LISA CLARK PLAINTIFF
v.
ANN VENEMAN, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Webber Wright United States District Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff Lisa Clark ("Clark") brings this employment discrimination lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, claiming that her former employer, the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA"), failed to renew her temporary employment appointment based on her gender and in retaliation for her connection to another employee's discrimination claim. Clark also alleges supplemental claims under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act. Before the Court are the USDA's motion for summary judgment (docket entry #8), Clark's response (docket entry #13), and the USDA's reply (docket entry #20). After careful consideration, and for the reasons that follow, summary judgment will be granted in favor of the USDA.

I.

The following facts are undisputed.*fn1 In August 1999, Clark received an appointment to a temporary position with the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration ("GIPSA"), a division of the USDA, at the GIPSA's office in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The Jonesboro office is suboffice of the GIPSA's field office located in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Bill Strickland serves as the supervisor of the Jonesboro office, and Clyde Steves, Strickland's supervisor, serves as the field officer of the Stuttgart office.

Clark was hired as a "temporary, intermittent" agricultural commodity aid. Her job duties included inspecting samples of grain and insuring that they complied with government standards. Docket entry #13, Ex. D, at 23. Clark's temporary appointment was limited to 1,040 hours, not to exceed one year, and it was classified "intermittent" because her work hours were irregular and scheduled on a "as needed" basis. See docket entry #9, Ex. 2, at 1. According to USDA policy, temporary, intermittent appointments are not automatically renewed, and renewal is at the agency's discretion.

In April 2000, Clark informed Strickland that she had accepted a full-time job with the Frito-Lay Company, to begin April 9, 2000. On April 10, 2000, Clark gave Strickland a note stating that she would be unavailable to work from April 9, 2000 through May 6, 2000, and that after May 6, 2000, she would be available to work for the USDA only on Mondays. Docket entry #9, Ex. 2, AH.B.

On April 11, 2000, Jackie Stevens, a male who worked at the GIPSA's Jonesboro office, submitted a letter, dated March 24, 2000, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") office in Washington, D.C. Stevens' letter states as follows:

Dear Mr. Bass:

This letter is to inform you that I am starting an EEO complaint against my first line supervisor, Bill Strickland, for sexual harassment.

On Monday March 20, 2000, I was assigned duty at Riceland/Parboiled with Lisa Clark, a part-time sampler Mr. Strickland had hired. At about 11:00 in the morning, I called Mr. Strickland to let him know that Ms. Clark and I were not busy and that the mill would not be needing us for the rest of the day. Mr. Strickland instructed me and Ms. Clark to come to the office. I was to help Mike Clem grade through rice and milled rice. Ms. Clark was to process rough samples and help with the sampling. In the afternoon Mr. Strickland dispatched Ms. Clark to Gulf/Rice Harrisburg . . . . Ms. Clark had just left the office when Mr. Strickland came into the lab and tried to start a conversation with this sexist remark: "I believe this is the smartest thing I've done yet, hiring these two ugly samplers. None of you guys want to stay with these two in those labs when the work is slow. I could not have gotten any of you to come in like this if I had hired a good looking blond." At that moment I asked Mr. Strickland not to say any more, that I did not want to hear this. He then turned to Darren Harpole and repeated his remark again. I told him again I did not want to hear any of this. He repeated the same remark a third time and Mike Clem heard him.

I am of the understanding that Mr. Strickland has attended a sensitivity training course. Therefore I contend there is no excuse for his action in this matter and it should have never occurred.

I contend that Mr. Strickland is to be held accountable for his action.

EEO is the law. All people are equal ...


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