BRIDGEPORT GUARDIANS v. DELMONTENo. CIV. 5:78CV175(JBA).
371 F.Supp.2d 115 (2005)
THE BRIDGEPORT GUARDIANS, et al. Plaintiffs,
Arthur J. DELMONTE, et al., Defendants.
Arthur J. DELMONTE, et al., Defendants.
United States District Court, D. Connecticut.
April 27, 2005.
Angela Carol Robinson, Antonio Ponvert, III, Joan C. Harrington, Michael P. Koskoff, Vincent M. Musto, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C., Thomas D. Flynn, Bridgeport, CT, Joel Thomas Faxon, Stratton Faxon, New Haven, CT, Richard Herlihy Shelton, CT, Carolyn Roberts Linsey, Owens, Schine & Nicola, Trumbull, CT, Raymond W. Ganim, II, Law Offices of Raymond W. Ganim, Stratford, CT, H. Jeffrey Beck, Bridgeport, CT, William B. Barnes, Rosenstein & Barnes, Fairfield, CT, for Plaintiffs.
Arthur C. Laske, III, Mark T. Anastasi, City of Bridgeport Office of the City Attorney, Raymond B. Rubens, Thomas K. Jackson, Thomas F. Maxwell, Jr., Pullman & Comley, Melanie J. Howlett, City of Bridgeport Office of the City Attorney, Bridgeport, CT, Bernard E. Jacques, Pepe & Hazard Goodwin Square, Donald C. Mahoney, Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C., Hartford, CT, Dana R. Baughns, Shipman & Goodwin, Stamford, CT, Sandra P. Lax, Fairfield, CT, Stephen F. Donahue, Kleban & Samor, PC, Southport, CT John Patrick Bohannon, Jr., Fairfield, CT, Diane Benevides, Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General, Providence, RI, John J. Kelly, Jr., Cantor, Floman, Gross, Kelly, Amendola & Sacramone, Orange, CT, for Defendants.
Ruling On Special Master's Recommended Ruling Re: Slur and Harassment Policies [Doc. # 1294]
ARTERTON, District Judge.
Before the Court is Defendants' Objection [Doc. # 1306] to the Recommended Ruling of the Special Master Regarding Slur and Harassment Policies [Doc. # 1294] at the Bridgeport Police Department. For the reasons that follow, the implicit conclusion of the Recommended Ruling that the Department is in contempt will be approved and adopted. As directed in open court on April 27, 2005, the Department will be given another opportunity to present evidence to the Special Master on its financial resources and the potential burden of the recommended sanction.
As the Recommended Ruling details, defendant Bridgeport Police Department ("BPD" or "Department") has a long history of foot-dragging and non-enforcement of its racial, ethnic and sexual slur and harassment policies:
Under Paragraph 10(b) of the 1983 Remedy Order, this Court empowered the Special Master to "[r]eceive, investigate, and remedy all complaints of discriminatory treatment, racial harassment or slurs within the B.P.D., and, in appropriate cases, to bring disciplinary charges against those responsible and/or those supervisors who foster or permit such racial harassment to occur in violation of departmental rules." Bridgeport Guardians, Inc. v. Delmonte,
The Department's enforcement of its slur policy waned in the ensuing years and on March 25, 1997, this Court directed the Department to review and revise its 1990 policy on racist, ethnic and sexist slurs and harassment. In ordering revisions to the policy, the Court wanted "to ensure that all employees know and understand their responsibilities." See Recommended Ruling re: Complaint of Detective
After hearings the Court disapproved the Department's "fourth draft" of a new policy covering racial, ethnic and sexist slurs and graffiti, ordering the parties to revise it before November 26, 1997 so that it covered harassment as well as slurs and graffiti. Recommended Ruling Concerning Slur and Graffiti Policy, dated October 28, 1997 (approved and adopted August 28, 1998 (Arterton, J.)) [Docs. #858-1, 903]. The Special Master instructed the Department to include separate definitions of key terms and to determine whether the Office of Internal Affairs ("OIA") could and should investigate all complaints of policy violations. Id.
Eighteen months later, after repeated requests for the revised slur and harassment policy, the Department submitted a "new policy" in April 1999 that did not contain any of the changes outlined in the Special Master's 1997 ruling. At a hearing in June 1999, the Department provided what it again characterized as two "new" policies: one concerning racial, ethnic or sexist slurs or graffiti, and the second concerning harassment. Again those policies were woefully deficient and essentially identical to earlier submissions.
In June 1999, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued "Enforcement Guidance," describing in detail elements that must be included in an anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure. Therefore, on July 8, 1999, the Special Master recommended disapproval of the revised policies submitted by the Department in June, both because they did not correct deficiencies identified by the Court in earlier rulings, and because they did not conform with EEOC's "Enforcement Guidance." Recommended Ruling Re: Slur and Harassment Policies, dated July 8, 1999 (approved and adopted on August 16, 1999 (Arterton, J.)) [Doc. # 979]. The Court ordered that the defendants' "final revisions shall be filed with the Court, in compliance with EEOC Guideline, not later than September 10, 1999." Endorsement Order, dated August 16, 1999 (Arterton, J.). [Doc. # 989].
The Department revised the policies and resubmitted the three policies now at issue: (1) Sexual Harassment in the Workplace; (2) Threats, Intimidation and Harassment; and (3) Racial Ethnic or Sexist Slurs and/or Graffiti. On December 20, 1999, the Special Master recommended approval of the policies, with noted corrections and additions. Observing that all three policies provided for training of supervisors as mandated by Connecticut regulations,
The Department admits that for nearly three years, between June 6, 2001, when the Recommended Ruling was approved and adopted, and April 7, 2004, the date of the hearing on this issue before the Special Master, "the required implementation of policies did not occur...." Objection at 3.
In the face of the BPD's pattern of disregard for court orders concerning the slur and harassment policy between 1986 and the present, as recited above, the Court does not credit the BPD's claim that its noncompliance was merely "unintentional" or "inadvertent."
The BPD's continuing noncompliance relates to the heart of the civil rights violations found by Judge Daly in his 1982 post-trial opinion: "The evidence introduced at trial indicates that racial slurs and disparaging remarks directed against blacks, as well as racial harassment of black officers are frequent occurrences in the B.P.D., and that they are not only tolerated, but engaged in by supervisory personnel as well as the rank and file, including the head of the department.... The evidence thus indicates a pattern of racially insulting and humiliating behavior which apparently has been condoned by supervisory officers.... This constitutes discrimination in the `terms, conditions, and privileges' of black officers' employment, and consequently, a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act." Bridgeport Guardians v. Delmonte,
"A court's inherent power to hold a party in civil contempt may be exercised only when (1) the order the party allegedly failed to comply with is clear and unambiguous, (2) the proof of noncompliance is clear and convincing, and (3) the party has not diligently attempted in a reasonable manner to comply." N.Y. State Nat'l Org. for Women v. Terry (Terry I),
When determining the nature or amount of a civil contempt sanction, a district court "is obliged to use the least possible power adequate to the end proposed." Spallone v. United States,
The need for an effective sanction is readily evident from the defendant's contumacy on the very important subject matter at the heart of the Remedy Order — racial slurs and harassment — and the absence of efforts to comply for almost three years. This conclusion is underscored by the record of past situations in which defendants have otherwise disregarded the authority of the Court to implement its Remedy Order. On September 27, 2001, the Court found the Board of Police Commissioners in contempt for failure to follow clear directives in reporting and resolving disciplinary matters within the Department. See Endorsement Order [Doc. # 1146]. In December 2001, the BPD was fined $39,500 ($250/day) for failure to comply with the Court's ruling on investigation of disciplinary incidents. See Recommended Ruling Re: Investigation of Discipline, dated Dec. 10, 2001 [Doc. # 1156] (approved and adopted with modifications, Dec. 27, 2001 [Doc. # 1160]). On January 14, 2004, the Court again found the BPD in contempt for failing to provide reports required by the "Stipulated Amendment to Remedy Order: Rotations," dated May 31, 2001. Endorsement Order [Doc. # 1256]. These prior contempt findings and sanctions were apparently inadequate to impress on the Department's officials that serious attention to compliance with court orders implementing the Remedy Order is required.
Although the Department represents that it has now initiated training on the revised policies and has re-trained the active officers, the Department's repeated contempt suggests a likelihood of continued future noncompliance of some sort, undermining the goal of institutionalizing non-discrimination in employment at the Bridgeport Police Department. While logic would dictate that avoidance of burdensome financial sanctions would impel municipal officials to give punctilious attention to court remedy orders, if only to protect scarce budgetary resources, the pattern of inattention and inaction by the BPD belies this logic. At a time when the Court has made clear its objective of stepping out of its prolonged role of overseeing BPD operations,
As ordered at the April 27, 2005 hearing, the Special Master is to take further evidence concerning the magnitude of the financial sanction to be imposed. In addition, as specified in the Recommended Ruling,
If any of these reports is materially inaccurate, incomplete or is untimely without extreme good cause, the Department and responsible city officials
Accordingly, the Bridgeport Police Department is found to be in civil contempt for noncompliance with court orders concerning its slur and harassment policies, and this matter is remanded to the Special Master for further proceedings concerning the sanction to be assessed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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