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Home / Complaints / Final Orders / Final Orders 2010 / FCHR Order No. 10-084

FCHR Order No. 10-084

Date of Release: 10/26/2010

STATE OF FLORIDA

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

CAROLYN JOHNSON

EEOC Case No. NONE

Petitioner

 

v.

FCHR Case No. 2010-00026

   

CIRCLE K

DOAH Case No. 10-1697

   

Respondent

FCHR Order No. 10-084

   

FINAL ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR

RELIEF FROM AN UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE

Preliminary Matters

Petitioner Carolyn Johnson filed a complaint of discrimination pursuant to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, Sections 760.01 - 760.11, Florida Statutes (2007), alleging that Respondent Circle K committed an unlawful employment practice on the bases of Petitioner’s race (Black), color (Black), sex (female), disability / handicap (not specified in complaint), National Origin (not specified in complaint), and age (not specified in complaint), and on the basis of retaliation, by terminating Petitioner from employment.

The allegations set forth in the complaint were investigated, and, on March 18, 2010, the Executive Director issued his determination finding that there was no reasonable cause to believe that an unlawful employment practice had occurred.

Petitioner filed a Petition for Relief from an Unlawful Employment Practice, and the case was transmitted to the Division of Administrative Hearings for the conduct of a formal proceeding.

An evidentiary hearing was held in Pensacola, Florida, on July 1, 2010, before Administrative Law Judge Diane Cleavinger.

Judge Cleavinger issued a Recommended Order of dismissal, dated September 2, 2010.

The Commission panel designated below considered the record of this matter and determined the action to be taken on the Recommended Order.

Findings of Fact

A transcript of the proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge was not filed with the Commission. In the absence of a transcript of the proceeding before the

Administrative Law Judge, the Recommended Order is the only evidence for the Commission to consider. See National Industries, Inc. v. Commission on Human

FCHR Order No. 10-084

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Relations, et al., 527 So. 2d 894, at 897, 898 (Fla. 5th DCA 1988). Accord, Hall v. Villages of West Oaks HOA, FCHR Order No. 08-007 (January 14, 2008), Beach-Gutierrez v. Bay Medical Center, FCHR Order No. 05-011 (January 19, 2005), and Waaser v. Streit’s Motorsports, FCHR Order No. 04-157 (November 30, 2004).

We adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact.

Conclusions of Law

We find the Administrative Law Judge’s application of the law to the facts to result in a correct disposition of the matter.

We adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusions of law.

Exceptions

Petitioner filed exceptions to the Administrative Law Judge’s Recommended Order in a 2-page document received by the Commission by e-mail on or about September 6, 2010.

There is no indication on the document that it was provided to Respondent as is required by Fla. Admin. Code R. 28-106.104(4) and Fla. Admin. Code R. 28-106.110. However, the Commission published the document to the Respondent, and placed the document in the record of this case, through the issuance of a notice of ex parte communication, mailed to the parties on September 9, 2010.

With regard to exceptions to Recommended Orders, the Administrative Procedure Act states, “The final order shall include an explicit ruling on each exception, but an agency need not rule on an exception that does not clearly identify the disputed portion of the recommended order by page number or paragraph, that does not identify the legal basis for the exception, or that does not include appropriate and specific citations to the record.” Section 120.57(1)(k), Florida Statutes (2009); see, also, Bartolone v. Best Western Hotels, FCHR Order No. 07-045 (August 24, 2007).

A review of Petitioner’s exceptions document suggests that it does not comply with this statutory provision.

However, it can be said, generally, that Petitioner excepts to the Administrative Law Judge’s finding that no unlawful employment practice occurred in this matter.

In the absence of a transcript of the proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge, the Commission is bound by the facts found in the Recommended Order, since there is no way for the Commission to determine the extent to which the facts found are supported by the testimony presented. Gainey v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., FCHR Order No. 07-054 (October 12, 2007).

With regard to findings of fact set out in Recommended Orders, the Administrative Procedure Act states, “The agency may not reject or modify the findings of fact unless the agency first determines from a review of the entire record , and states with particularity in the order, that the findings of fact were not based on competent

FCHR Order No. 10-084

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substantial evidence or that the proceedings on which the findings were based did not comply with the essential requirements of law [emphasis added].” Section 120.57(1)(l), Florida Statutes (2009). As indicated, above, in the absence of a transcript of the proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge, the Recommended Order is the only evidence for the Commission to consider. See, National Industries, Inc., supra. Accord, Hall, supra, Jones v. Suwannee County School Board, FCHR Order No. 06-088 (September 11, 2006), Johnson v. Tree of Life, Inc., FCHR Order No 05-087 (July 12, 2005), Beach-Gutierrez, supra, and Waaser, supra.

Finally, the Commission has stated, “It is well settled that it is the Administrative Law Judge’s function ‘to consider all of the evidence presented and reach ultimate conclusions of fact based on competent substantial evidence by resolving conflicts, judging the credibility of witnesses and drawing permissible inferences therefrom. If the evidence presented supports two inconsistent findings, it is the Administrative Law Judge’s role to decide between them.’ Beckton v. Department of Children and Family Services, 21 F.A.L.R. 1735, at 1736 (FCHR 1998), citing Maggio v. Martin Marietta Aerospace, 9 F.A.L.R. 2168, at 2171 (FCHR 1986).” Barr v. Columbia Ocala Regional Medical Center, 22 F.A.L.R. 1729, at 1730 (FCHR 1999). Accord, Bowles v. Jackson County Hospital Corporation, FCHR Order No. 05-135 (December 6, 2005).

Based on the foregoing, Petitioner’s exceptions are rejected.

Dismissal

The Petition for Relief and Complaint of Discrimination are DISMISSED with prejudice.

The parties have the right to seek judicial review of this Order. The Commission and the appropriate District Court of Appeal must receive notice of appeal within 30 days of the date this Order is filed with the Clerk of the Commission. Explanation of the right to appeal is found in Section 120.68, Florida Statutes, and in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.110.

DONE AND ORDERED this 26th day of October , 2010.

FOR THE FLORIDA COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS:

Commissioner Gilbert M. Singer, Panel Chairperson;

Commissioner Michael G. Keller; and

Commissioner Lizzette Romano

Filed this 26th day of October , 2010,

in Tallahassee, Florida.

FCHR Order No. 10-084

Page 4

________________________________

Violet Crawford, Clerk

Commission on Human Relations

2009 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32301

(850) 488-7082

Copies furnished to:

Carolyn Johnson

Post Office Box 4671

Pensacola, FL 32507

Circle K

c/o Kathleen Raughton, Qualified Representative

c/o Joyce Clemmons

25 West Cedar Street, Suite 100

Pensacola, FL 32502

Diane Cleavinger, Administrative Law Judge, DOAH

James Mallue, Legal Advisor for Commission Panel

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed to the above listed addressees this 26th day of October , 2010.

By: _____________________________

Clerk of the Commission

Florida Commission on Human Relations