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Home / Complaints / Final Orders / Final Orders 2014 / FCHR Order No. 14-001

FCHR Order No. 14-001

Date of Release: 01/23/2014

STATE OF FLORIDA

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

PUSPA RATH

EEOC Case No. 15D201200785

Petitioner

FCHR Case No. 2012-02544

v.

DOAH Case No. 13-1234

SCHOOL BOARD OF LEON COUNTY

FCHR Order No. 14-001

Respondent

 

FINAL ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR

RELIEF FROM AN UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE

Preliminary Matters

Petitioner Puspa Rath filed a complaint of discrimination pursuant to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, Sections 760.01 - 760.11, Florida Statutes (2011), alleging that Respondent School Board of Leon County committed unlawful employment practices on the bases of Petitioner’s race (not specified in complaint), sex (not specified in complaint), National Origin (not specified in complaint) and age (DOB: 4-8-69) by failing to hire Petitioner for positions for which Petitioner had applied.

The allegations set forth in the complaint were investigated, and, on March 5, 2013, the Executive Director issued a 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 Tallahassee, Florida, on August 26, 2013, before Administrative Law Judge Barbara J. Staros.

Judge Staros issued a Recommended Order of dismissal, dated October 29, 2013.

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

We find the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact to be supported by competent substantial evidence.

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

FCHR Order No. 14-001

Page 2

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, received by the Commission on or about November 12, 2013.

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 November 13, 2013.

Respondent filed a response to Petitioner’s exceptions, received by the Commission on November 22, 2013.

Petitioner’s exceptions document contains two numbered exceptions.

In our view, the first numbered exception takes issue with the Administrative Law Judge’s finding / conclusion that there is no evidence that Respondent’s actions in not hiring Petitioner were a pretext for unlawful discrimination and the second numbered exception appears to take issue with the Administrative Law Judge’s refusal to consider some of Petitioner’s post-hearing submissions.

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) and Eaves v. IMT-LB Central Florida Portfolio, LLC, FCHR Order No. 11-029 (March 17, 2011).

In addition, it has been stated, “The ultimate question of the existence of discrimination is a question of fact.” Florida Department of Community Affairs v. Bryant, 586 So. 2d 1205, at 1209 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). Accord, Coley v. Bay County Board of County Commissioners, FCHR Order No. 10-027 (March 17, 2010) and Eaves, supra.

Petitioner’s exceptions are rejected.

FCHR Order No. 14-001

Page 3

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 23rd day of January , 2014.

FOR THE FLORIDA COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS:

Commissioner Mario M. Valle, Panel Chairperson;

Commissioner Derick Daniel; and

Commissioner Michael Keller

Filed this 23rd day of January , 2014,

in Tallahassee, Florida.

______________/s/_____________

Violet Crawford, Clerk

Commission on Human Relations

2009 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32301

(850) 488-7082

Copies furnished to:

Puspa Rath

2468 Rain Lily Way

Tallahassee, FL 32311

School Board of Leon County

c/o Deborah Stephens Minnis, Esq.

Ausley & McMullen

123 South Calhoun Street

Tallahassee, FL 32301

FCHR Order No. 14-001

Page 4

Barbara J. Staros, 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 23rd day of January , 2014.

By: _________/s/________________

Clerk of the Commission

Florida Commission on Human Relations