The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS O'NEILL, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff, Kenneth L. Hoffman, brings this action against John E.
Potter, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service alleging
age and disability discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. and the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq.*fn1 In addition to actual damages,
attorneys' fees and costs, plaintiff has requested punitive damages.
Before me now is defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiff's
response thereto and defendant's reply brief.
The U.S. Postal Service hired plaintiff in February 1996. Plaintiff was
assigned to be a letter carrier in the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania post
office. The Postal Service hires new letter carriers for a ninety day
probationary period. At the time of his hiring plaintiff was over the age of forty and had been diagnosed as suffering from hypertension and
At or about the time plaintiff was hired the Postal Service hired two
additional probationary letter carriers at the Phoenixville post office.
Both of the other probationary letter carriers were under forty years old
and without disability. They were hired at the end of their probationary
Prior to the end of his probationary employment period the Postal
Service terminated plaintiff's employment. Plaintiff claims that he
successfully performed the duties of his position, despite the disparate
training and treatment he claims to have received as a result of age and
disability discrimination. Plaintiff alleges that his termination was
also a result of age and disability discrimination by the Postal Service
and that the Postal Service's purported reason for the termination, his
inadequate performance, was merely a pretext for that discrimination.
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact," the moving party is entitled to summary
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). I will apply the this rule in accordance
with Supreme Court and Third Circuit precedent. See, e.g., Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Williams v. Borough of W. Chester,
891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989). DISCUSSION
The burden of proof for discrimination cases was established by
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973).*fn2 Under the
McDonnell Douglas line of cases, as applied to the ADEA, a three step
analysis applies to pretext discrimination cases. Id. at 802-04. First,
the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of discrimination. St.
Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 506 (1993). Plaintiff
establishes a prima facie case if he shows that he (1) is a member of the
protected class, i.e. at least 40 years of age; (2) is qualified for the
position; (3) suffered an adverse employment decision; and (4) has
sufficient evidence to create an inference of age discrimination.
Simpson, 142 F.2d at 644, n.5. The standard by which plaintiff must prove
his prima facie case is by a preponderance of the evidence. Texas Dept.
of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981). Second, upon
such a showing by the plaintiff, the burden shifts to the employer to
produce evidence of a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse
decision. Hicks, 509 U.S. at 506-07. Third, the plaintiff must then
demonstrate that the employer's articulated reason was not the actual
reason, but rather a pretext for discrimination. Id. at 507. The burden
of proving discrimination rests at all times with plaintiff. Burdine, 450
U.S. at 253.
A. Plaintiff's Prima Facie Case
Plaintiff has established that he is a member of the protected class of
the ADEA. He was over forty years old when all relevant employment decisions were
made. He suffered an adverse employment action when he was discharged
from his position as probationary letter carrier.
The parties agree that a letter carrier must be proficient at casing*fn3
and delivering mail. Plaintiff's only evidence in support of his
contention that he was qualified for the position of letter carrier is
employee time records from the Phoenixville post office. Each letter
carrier has an identification badge which he is to swipe in a computer
system to keep track of what task he has just completed. The computer
system prints reports of letter carrier time called "clock rings" so that
supervisors can monitor how much time each carrier is spending on his
daily tasks. Plaintiff points to the clock rings of himself and two
younger probationary employees who were hired, Phil Marcantonio and Brian
Bonsall, as evidence supporting his position that he was qualified for
the position. Pl.'s Reply to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. app. at 68-111. I
find those clock rings to be of no probative value because they do not
contain items of information that are necessary to explain the quality of
the work completed by each employee; for example, what tasks ...