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Carter v. Potter

July 21, 2010


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


The plaintiff, Stacey Carter, brought suit against the United States Postal Service ("postal service"), alleging employment discrimination and retaliation based on race, color, and sex. He claims that the postal service improperly removed him from a supervisory position, and that it failed to provide him with training and opportunities for advancement. The postal service moves to dismiss the complaint, or in the alternative, for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the defendant's motion.

I. Summary Judgment Record*fn2

The plaintiff is an African American male who began his employment with the postal service in 1992. At all times material to this lawsuit, the plaintiff held a letter carrier bid position at the post office in Ambler, Pennsylvania. At some point in 2000, the plaintiff became a "204B," which is a temporary supervisor employee. In the Spring of 2004, he was working as a 204B customer service supervisor in the Haverford post office.*fn3 Transcript of EEO Hearing, at 93-95, Jan. 8, 2009, Ex. 2 to Def.'s M.;*fn4 Notification of Personnel Action, Form 50, Ex. 1 to Def.'s M.

A. The May 2004 Incident and Meeting

On May 1, 2004, an incident occurred between the plaintiff and a female letter carrier from the Ambler post office. The female carrier alleged that the plaintiff sexually harassed her while she was on her delivery route, and she complained to management. John Kiley, a supervisor at the Ambler post office, and Carl Zingle, the Officer in Charge at the Ambler post office, opened an investigation and took statements from the witnesses. During the investigation, the plaintiff admitted that his conduct towards the carrier "could be inappropriate." Compl. ¶ 11; Ex. 2 at 194-96; 2004 Investigation Report, Ex. 4 to Def.'s M.

In response to the incident, management arranged for the plaintiff to receive some sexual harassment training, and on May 7, 2004, the plaintiff completed four video courses. Compl. ¶ 15; Ex. 2 at 70-71; Employee Training History Report, Ex. 5 to Def.'s M.

On May 13, 2004, the plaintiff, Mr. Zingle, Dorita Barnes, Manager of Post Office Operations, and Ernestine Jenkins, Workplace Improvement Analyst, met to discuss the sexual harassment allegations. Ms. Barnes told the plaintiff that he would return to his letter carrier bid position and no longer work as a temporary supervisor until he received further sexual harassment training. The plaintiff alleges that when he told Ms. Barnes that he would like the matter further investigated and that he would "take this legally," Ms. Barnes replied that her "gloves would come off" if he pursued such actions. Ms. Barnes denies that she made this statement. She claims that she cautioned the plaintiff against an investigation because he may "come out more on the losing end of something like that" due to other incidents involving the plaintiff. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 13, 14; Ex. 2 at 116-21, 243-44, 268, 272.

B. Additional Training

After the meeting on May 13, 2004, the plaintiff returned to his letter carrier bid position at the Ambler post office. On June 13, 2004, he wrote to Ms. Barnes and expressed his interest in any fill-in supervisory positions that became available during the upcoming summer vacation months and that were within a 10-mile radius of his home. He also informed Ms. Barnes that he retained legal counsel*fn5 to be contacted "on all necessary matters." The plaintiff attached to his letter an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") pre-complaint that he filed in response to the May incident. Compl. ¶ 19; Letter from Stacey Carter to Dorita Barnes, June 13, 2004, Ex. 7 to Def.'s M.

Although the plaintiff alleges in his civil complaint that he received no response from Ms. Barnes, Ms. Barnes sent a letter to the plaintiff's counsel on June 28, 2004. In her letter, Ms. Barnes reiterated that the plaintiff was returned to his official letter carrier bid position, but that he "was not . . . banned from acting in a supervisory capacity in the future" once he underwent additional training. She also stated that further investigation into the May 2004 incident and additional sexual harassment training were available to the plaintiff, should he request them. Compl. ¶ 19; Letter from Dorita Barnes to Shelley Farber, June 28, 2004, Ex. 6 to Def.'s M.

In June 2004, Mr. Zingle left the Ambler post office and Michael Todd replaced him as the Officer in Charge. The plaintiff asked Mr. Todd several times in passing that he provide the plaintiff with sexual harassment training. Mr. Todd testified that he forgot to follow up on these requests because, at the time, there were no supervisory openings at the Ambler post office. The plaintiff did not contact Ms. Barnes or anyone other than Mr. Todd for the additional training. Ex. 2 at 30, 57-58, 144-46, 201, 277-78.

In January 2005, the plaintiff applied to the post office's Associate Supervisor Program ("ASP"), which is a program that trains employees to work as permanent supervisors. On January 25, 2005, Mr. Todd submitted a positive recommendation for the plaintiff's application. The plaintiff had an interview on March 13, 2005, but the interviewers informed him that he could not be considered for the program because he lacked necessary additional trainings. Howard Sample, who was Ms. Barnes's superior, had written a note on the plaintiff's application to this effect. Compl. ¶ 26-27; Ex. 2 at 28, 40, 50-53, 328-33.

After the interview, the plaintiff complained to Mr. Todd that he had not received the additional training that he needed. He then requested that Mr. Todd arrange for the additional training, and on March 24, 2005, he sent a note to Mr. Todd with this request. In response to the note, Mr. Todd sent an email to Joe DiDio, the district training coordinator, requesting training for the plaintiff. When Mr. Todd did not receive a response, he did not follow up with his inquiry. Ex. 2 at 37, 40-46; Note from Stacey Carter to Mike Todd, March 24, 2005, Ex. 8 to Def.'s M.

The plaintiff does not allege that he requested training again until September 20, 2006, when he did so in a certified letter to Mr. Todd. In response to the letter, Mr. Todd called Mr. DiDio, and Mr. DiDio sent a list of videos that the plaintiff was to view. The plaintiff viewed the videos on October 12, 2006. Since completing this training, Mr. Carter has not been placed in a 204B supervisory position. Ex. 2 at 66; Ex. 5; Compl. ¶ 33.

C. The Second ASP Application

The plaintiff completed a second ASP application on April 29, 2006, and he mailed his application by first class mail from the Ambler post office on May 1, 2006. The application noted that it was to be received by the closing date, which was May 4, 2006. Compl. ¶ 30; ASP Application, Ex. 11 to Def.'s M.; Affidavit Questions for EEO Complainant at 7, Ex. 21 to Def.'s M.

The plaintiff did not affix a stamp to his ASP application, and he did not select delivery confirmation when mailing it. Louetta Curry, the ASP coordinator, stamped the plaintiff's application and his envelope as being received on May ...

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