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Sulit v. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

August 28, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLaughlin, J.


The plaintiff, Adelberto Sulit, a Filipino, brings this case against his former employer, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (the Bank), alleging that the defendant terminated his employment due to the plaintiff's race or national origin. The plaintiff's complaint contains a single count under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

The defendant has moved for summary judgment on the plaintiff's discrimination claim, arguing that the basis for the plaintiff's termination was an incident in which the plaintiff pointed his firearm at another employee. The Court will grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

I. The Summary Judgment Record

The plaintiff was employed as a security guard at the Bank, one of twelve regional Reserve Banks comprising the Federal Reserve System, from June of 2005 until July of 2007. The plaintiff claims that his termination was the result of racial and national origin. He is Filipino and was born in the Philippines. Deposition of Plaintiff (Pl. Dep.), Pl.'s Ex. A at 121:21-22.

The defendant claims that the plaintiff was terminated following an investigation into an incident during which the plaintiff reportedly pointed his firearm at a fellow guard. The plaintiff claims that this incident did not actually occur and that the defendant uses the fabrication of that incident as pretext for an illegally motivated firing. This portion of the Court's opinion will recite the facts contained in the summary judgment record.

A. The Plaintiff's Employment History with the Defendant

The plaintiff was first hired by the defendant to work in the mail room of the treasury department in April of 2001.

The defendant later engaged him as a protection officer in the law enforcement unit in the summer of 2005. Pl.'s Dep. at 17-18.

As a protection officer, the plaintiff was responsible for safeguarding the premises and the people working in the Bank. Id. at 116:2-5. He received three months of training and graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Academy prior to assuming his duties. Id. at 116-17. Training at the Academy included instruction in weapon safety and firing. Id. at 117. During his firearms training, the plaintiff was told to stop what he was doing when a range instructor believed that the plaintiff had fired his weapon by mistake. Id. at 118:23-24-119:1-5.

Before May 31, 2007, the plaintiff had no personal problems or conflicts with his fellow officers or his supervisors during the course of his employment at the Bank. Id. at 78-79. There is no evidence that any person in his workplace ever made any derogatory remarks about his race or national origin during his employment. See id. at 170-72. None of the plaintiff's previous supervisors reported having had to discipline him prior to May 2007. See Deposition of Sergeant Jacqueline Smith (Smith Dep.), Pl.'s Ex. C at 21:18-22:3; Deposition of Sergeant Reuben Bolden (Bolden Dep.), Pl.'s Ex. R at 10:5-10. His immediate supervisor in May 2007, Lieutenant Harry Fletcher, describes the plaintiff's work record as "acceptable." Deposition of Lieutenant Harry Fletcher (Fletcher Dep.), Pl.'s Ex. D at 26:10-11.

B. The Reporting of the Incident of May 31, 2007, to the Defendant's Decision Makers

On July 5, 2007, Sergeant Jacqueline Smith overheard two other officers, Officer Ronald Daltwas and Officer Michael Judge, discussing the plaintiff at a lunch table. When questioned by Sergeant Smith, Officer Daltwas told her that both he and Officer Joseph Gilchrist had observed the plaintiff point his gun at Officer Judge while in the locker room several weeks earlier. Id. at 11:13-15. Sergeant Smith later spoke with Officer Gilchrist about the incident, and Officer Gilchrist confirmed the statements of Officers Daltwas and Judge. Id. at 12.

Upon instruction from Lieutenant Fletcher, Sergeant Smith provided a written statement concerning her conversations with Officers Daltwas, Gilchrist and Judge. Id. at 17:21-23. The statement reads:

I was informed today of an incident that occurred on May 31, 2007, at approximately 11 p.m. involving Officer Sulit. Officer Mike Judge joked with him in the locker room to turn down his blaring music and he [Sulit] told Officer Judge that a person could get shot for telling another person to lower their music. He proceeded to point his personal weapon (holstered) at Mike's body. Officer Judge's back was turned and he did not see it. He was told the next day by ...

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