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WILSON v. UNITED STATES

April 2, 1984

Ronald E. WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

 NEALON, Chief Judge.

 The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action on June 16, 1983, claiming that he is the victim of discrimination on the basis of a handicap *fn1" at his place of employment, the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. *fn2" Named as defendants are the United States, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (F.L.R.A. or "the Authority"), the American Federation of Government Employees (A.F.G.E.), Local 148 of the A.F.G.E. and the Council of Prison Locals. Also named are various individuals within the penitentiary and the agencies mentioned above.

 Having initially been assigned to Judge Muir, this case was reassigned to the undersigned on July 20, 1983. On August 8, 1983, defendants A.F.G.E., Local 148, the Council of Prison Locals and the individual defendants connected with these bodies [hereinafter collectively referred to as "the union defendants"] moved for a more definite statement under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). The F.L.R.A. and the individual defendants connected therewith moved to dismiss on August 22, 1983. On the same day, the United States, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons and the remaining individual defendants [hereinafter collectively referred to as "the government defendants"] filed a motion to dismiss.

 On August 23, 1983, the plaintiff filed an amendment to his complaint which was not intended "to change, or take away from the original complaint, only to clarify" what already had been alleged. The union defendants filed a supplemental motion for a more definite statement on September 8, 1983 and, five days later, the plaintiff moved for a default judgment against A.F.G.E. and the individual union defendants. At the same time, the plaintiff moved for a declaratory judgment against the government defendants.

 All of the motions filed by the parties are now ripe for disposition.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 The following facts are contained within the complaint or were set forth by the plaintiff at the conference held on October 27, 1983. The plaintiff's version of all relevant events is accepted as true for purposes of the motions presently before the court.

 The plaintiff began working as a correctional officer at Lewisburg in November 1975. The plaintiff asserts that his "problems" began in 1979 when defendant Hackle became the chief of mechanical services at the prison. At this time, the plaintiff was the "correctional security officer" of the penitentiary and, as such, was responsible for being the locksmith of the prison. Although Hackle was not the plaintiff's supervisor, the budget for the plaintiff's department came under Hackle's jurisdiction. According to the plaintiff, some of his purchase requirements were not being filled properly by Hackle. The two men began having confrontations during which the plaintiff accused Hackle of jeopardizing the security of the prison and Hackle threatened to cause the plaintiff's termination from employment.

 On January 11, 1981, the plaintiff was promoted to the position of "Machinist Foreman" at the prison. While this promotion led to a salary increase for the plaintiff, it also placed him directly under Hackle's supervision. According to the plaintiff, matters became worse and Hackle continued to harass him.

 In August 1981, the Office of Personnel and Management (O.P.M.) conducted an audit at Lewisburg and concluded that the plaintiff was "not qualified" for the position of Machinist Foreman and should be demoted. O.P.M. reached this conclusion because two rating points had been omitted from the plaintiff's "rating of promotion potential form" filled out by prison officials. The plaintiff emphasizes that he did not get a "zero" in lieu of rating points; rather, the two points were simply omitted.

 In October 1981, the plaintiff first learned of the O.P.M. audit and the conclusion that he was unqualified by reason of the omission in his personnel file. He was not yet demoted at this time. The plaintiff was advised, however, that he would soon be getting a letter regarding his purportedly poor performance. The plaintiff and his union filed a grievance concerning these charges. The plaintiff asserts that, at one point during the grievance procedure, the Warden agreed to drop the charges of poor performance in light of O.P.M.'s conclusion that the plaintiff should be demoted in any event. For reasons which do not appear clear from the record, the dispute went to arbitration anyway, and the arbitrator ultimately rejected the grievance.

 In May 1982, the plaintiff was demoted. He was not, however, returned to his former position as the locksmith of the prison. Instead, he was put back on the correctional force as a corrections officer. Notably, the demotion took place pursuant to the O.P.M. audit rather than the charges of poor performance. The plaintiff contends that his demotion was the product of a conspiracy between Hackle and various other defendants employed at the penitentiary. To support this theory, he avers that Hackle told one William Bechtold that the plaintiff was promoted to the position of Machinist Foreman so that he could be removed from the locksmith position and eventually eased out entirely. The plaintiff also points to the fact that the O.P.M. audit was not a "random" audit and was, in fact, requested by someone. Finally, he asserts he was the ...


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