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Laye v. Potter

June 2, 2006

FRANK J. LAYE, JR., PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

Presently before the Court is the MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, with brief in support, filed by Defendant John E. Potter, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service (Document Nos. 21 and 22), and the RESPONSE TO MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT filed by Plaintiff (Document No. 26). After careful consideration of Defendant's Motion, the filings in support and opposition thereto, the memoranda of the parties, the relevant case law, and the record as a whole, the Court finds that there is not sufficient record evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for Plaintiff, Frank J. Laye, Jr., on his claims of discrimination due to his race and gender. Therefore, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment of Defendant, John E. Potter, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this civil rights action on January 14, 2004, in which he alleges that Defendant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") when he allegedly was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his gender and race while he was working as a tractor trailer operator at the United States Postal Service's Bulk Mail Center in Warrendale, Pennsylvania.

Defendant has filed the instant motion for summary judgment in which it contends that Plaintiff is unable to establish a prima facie case on either his gender or race discrimination claims. Plaintiff has filed a rather cursory Response in which he simply states that he denies the allegations contained in the Motion for Summary Judgment and further states that he "has provided ample evidence to sustain the burden of proof that he is required to prove in the present case that he was subjected to" discrimination.

BACKGROUND

The facts relevant to this discussion, and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows. In October 1995, Plaintiff was hired by the Postal Service as a letter carrier in Chicago, Illinois, as a "Part Time Flexible" employee.*fn1 In March 1998, Plaintiff was transferred upon his request from his position in Chicago, Illinois to a position as a part time flexible Tractor Trailer Operator/Spotter at the Postal Service's Bulk Mail Center ("BMC") in Warrendale, Pennsyvlania.*fn2

Plaintiff alleges that upon his transfer to the BMC, he "experienced a hostile work environment and racial discrimination from employees and management." Complaint, at ¶ 6. For example, Plaintiff alleges that he "has received reprimands and disciplinary action for minor infractions that were over-looked for other similar situated Caucasian employees." Id. at ¶ 12. In support of his allegation, Plaintiff contends that during the first week that he worked at the BMC, he had two incidents which resulted in him being disciplined and receiving a 2-1/2 day suspension, to wit: first, he had an accident with a trailer and then he was accused by another employee of pulling a trailer away from its docketing area before the trailer was safely secured. Plaintiff's union filed a grievance on his behalf, which was settled in his favor. See Exh. 4, Pre-Arbitration Settlement Agreement.

Plaintiff also alleges that three incidents of discrimination occurred during his first week of work at the BMC. First, Plaintiff alleges that someone spit on his vehicle in the parking lot. Plaintiff testified that he told his supervisor, Bill Horvantin, about the problem, but that Horvantin's response was noncommittal and he simply asked Plaintiff if he knew who could have done this.

In the second incident, Plaintiff alleges that someone made a large dent on the driver's door on his automobile. However, the record reflects that Plaintiff did not know who dented his vehicle nor did he report the incident to management.

The third incident occurred when Plaintiff saw that someone had made a drawing with his or her hands in the dirt on the side of a leased tractor trailer, which Plaintiff found racially offensive. Plaintiff testified that he did not immediately tell management about the drawing, but rather consulted via telephone with a friend in Chicago that night. The next morning, Plaintiff took photographs of the drawing and contacted two of his supervisors, Horvantin and Michael Uniatowski, in the afternoon to show them the drawing on the trailer. Plaintiff told the supervisors that he did not like what the drawing symbolized. Plaintiff testified that the supervisors asked, "Do you think it pertains to you?", to which he responded, "Yeah. I'm the only black guy out here." Plaintiff testified that the trailer remained on the premises for about three days and that his supervisors did nothing about the drawing after he showed it to them.

Plaintiff also alleges that his supervisors bypassed him on the Overtime Desired List while they assigned overtime to less senior white employees and that he "was never given the opportunity to bid on job assignments that was afforded to similarly situated Regular Full Time Caucasian employees until November 1999." Complaint at ¶ 18.

The record reflects that on November 8, 2000, Plaintiff made initial contact with an EEO counselor, complaining of discrimination on the basis of race. See Exh. 8, EEO Counselor's Inquiry Report. In his Information for Precomplaint Counseling, Plaintiff gave three examples of how he was treated differently than white employees:

"1. SUPERVISOR OF 3RD TOUR RELAYED HARASSMENT REMARK FROM 2ND TOUR BILL HORVINGTON ABOUT LOG ON TIME.

2. VEHICLE INCIDENCES OCCURRED I WAS THE ONLY ONE SENT HOME PENDING REMOVAL. REMARK COMING MGMT DON STARKE.

3. A ISSUE INVOLVED PULLING TRAILER FROM THE DOCK ON A RED LIGHT STATUS. I WAS ONLY ONE PENDING REMOVAL AND SUSPENSION ...


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