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Promoted Woman Amazed by Job Ruling; Man Bitter

March 25, 1987|Associated Press

GILROY, Calif. — The woman whose promotion to Santa Clara County road dispatcher was upheld today by the U.S. Supreme Court said she was "amazed" and called the ruling a victory for women and minority members, while the man who lost out on the promotion was bitter.

"This case will have an impact on all women, and I'm very happy for them," said Diane Joyce, 49, who still holds the Gilroy dispatching job she was promoted to in 1980.

The court voted 6 to 3 to uphold an affirmative action plan challenged by a man who was denied the promotion even though he claimed he was better qualified for the county transportation agency post.

Higher Test Score

Paul E. Johnson, 61, who had said he scored two points higher than Joyce on an oral examination for the dispatcher job, was bitterly disappointed with the ruling.

"I can't believe it," said Johnson, now retired and living in Sequim, Wash. "It's unbelievable. If I was those justices, I wouldn't want this on my conscience."

Referring to Joyce's comment that the ruling was a victory for women and minority members, Johnson said: "I don't think they (women) are even the minority anymore.

"How can they make it a hard and fast rule, even though it looks like that's what they're trying to do? I've got three sons, and I feel very sorry for them. I've done everything I can do."

Passed Over Earlier

Joyce said she has "many times" been passed over for jobs despite being better qualified than the person selected for promotion.

She said that if she had lost in the Supreme Court, she would have sued the county for allegedly choosing the fifth-most-qualified person for a foreman's job last June when she was the best qualified.

"I probably had a no-lose situation going for me," she said.

Assistant Santa Clara County Counsel Steven Woodside called the court's ruling "clearly . . . a victory for civil rights groups and women's groups."

"It seems to be a strong decision on behalf of the affirmative action plan," Woodside said. "Employers will be encouraged to continue to take moderate, voluntary steps."

Several of the largest employers in the San Francisco Bay Area were reluctant to comment on the ruling, however.

"We're just not prepared to give an off-the-cuff reaction," said spokeswoman Vicky Ogiela at San Francisco-based Bechtel Group Inc., one of the world's largest construction firms. "It's certainly a big decision and a lot of thought will go into its implications."

Peter Magnani, a spokesman for San Francisco-based BankAmerica Corp., the nation's second-largest banking company, said it appears "on the surface" as if the ruling would have no effect on BankAmerica's affirmative action policies.

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