A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Army's civilian promotion program for professional employes discriminates against women and against civilians whose job it is to enforce the Army's own antidiscrimination policies.
U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. said in an 18-page opinion that the Army "refused and continues to refuse to promote qualified women to high level, policy-making positions."
Moreover, Robinson said, members of a civilian Army staff that reviews employe grievances are subject to "systematic discrimination" because the people who make promotion decisions are often the subjects of the complaints. That system, the judge indicated, opens the way for retaliation against the staff members who make the rulings.
In support of that finding, Robinson noted that only one employe of the Army's Office of Employment Policy and Grievance Review had received a promotion since 1972 through the department's career program for civilian personnel.
Specifically, Robinson ruled in the case of Freda C. Clark, 64, a 30-year veteran of the Army's civilian service, who was a key equal employment opportunity staff member at the time of her retirement in 1977.
Robinson said that Clark had clearly shown during a trial last summer that she was "persistently discriminated against" by the Army because she is a female and because of her long activity in equal employment decision-making.
Robinson noted that Clark had been denied promotions three times through the career program, and that the person eventually selected for those jobs was "never" more qualified than Clark for the positions.
He also recounted in his opinion Clark's long tenure as a specialist for the Army in equal opportunity matters, and noted that she had received numerous commendations and awards for her job performance.
Clark, who now lives in Stanardsville, Va., contended in her lawsuit that she had been denied training, reassignment and promotion because of her sex and was refused employment opportunities in retaliation for decisions she had made as an equal employment opportunity specialist.
After finding that Clark had been subject to discrimination, Robinson ordered the Army to offer her two promotions, the first retroactive to 1972, that would have ultimately brought her job level to GSX15. If she no longer wants the jobs, Robinson said the Army must nevertheless pay her the difference between the salary she received and what she would have earned.
Robinson also ordered the Army to adjust Clark's personal records to reflect those two promotions and to pay into her retirement account money to reflect those promotions.
In a telephone interview from her home yesterday, Clark, who had not seen Robinson's opinion, said she did not know yet whether she would accept the promotions.
Robinson, in his opinion, said that "pervasive, systematic defects" exist in the Army's career program, set up in 1959 for merit placement and promotion of civilian employes.
Regulations that were supposed to afford equal opportunity in lateral job moves and promotions "were and are flagrantly violated," Robinson said.