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Paul M. St. John, Plaintiff v. Patrick R. Donohue

April 19, 2013

PAUL M. ST. JOHN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PATRICK R. DONOHUE, POSTMASTER GENERAL, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

I.INTRODUCTION

In this case, plaintiff Paul M. St. John alleges that his employer, the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), retaliated against him for filing Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") complaints, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II.BACKGROUND*fn1

St. John has been employed by the USPS as a Letter Carrier at the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania Post Office ("Elkins Park") since May 3, 2003. (Statement of Undisputed Facts ("SOUF") ¶ 1, 3.) Between 2004 and 2010, St. John filed seven formal and informal EEO complaints for national origin discrimination and retaliation by his supervisors with the EEO Office of the USPS. (SOUF ¶ 4.) The two most recent complaints were filed on July 13, 2009 and April 17, 2010. (Id.) St. John also commenced a federal lawsuit against the USPS in 2009, claiming national origin discrimination and retaliation for his previous EEO activity. See St.

John v. Potter, 2011 WL 780685 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 4, 2011). The court ultimately granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on May 4, 2011. Id.

The instant case arises out of events that occurred between January 2010 and August 2010.

A. St. John's Applications for Eleven Supervisor Positions

In January 2010, St. John applied for eleven USPS supervisor positions at several post offices in Philadelphia and the surrounding Philadelphia suburbs. (SOUF ¶ 7.) None of St. John's applications were for positions at Elkins Park, where he had worked as a letter carrier since 2003. (SOUF ¶ 9.) Four of these eleven supervisor vacancies were ultimately canceled, and no one was hired to fill those positions. (SOUF ¶ 11.) St. John was "Not Recommended" for five of the positions for which he applied. (SOUF ¶ 12.) St. John received interviews for the remaining two vacancies, which were USPS Customer Service Supervisor positions at the Doylestown and North Philadelphia Post Offices. (St. John Dep. at 18.) The Doylestown Postmaster conducted the Doylestown interview and Janet Felix, the North Philadelphia Station Manager, conducted the North Philadelphia interview. (Id.) St. John had never met either interviewer prior to these two interviews, and his previous EEO activity was not discussed during either interview. (Id. at 19, 24). During the North Philadelphia interview, Janet Felix told St. John that he should obtain additional experience. (St. John Dep. at 57.) In April 2010, plaintiff was informed that he was not selected for either supervisor position. (Id. at 20).

Demetrius Casillas was the Customer Service Supervisor at Elkins Park and directly supervised St. John until June 2010. (Casillas Decl. ¶ 2; St. John Dep. at 10.) On April 8, 2010, Casillas called St. John into his office and explained that he was not hired for any of the supervisor positions because of his EEO activity and the fact that Mr. Gallagher, the USPS Philadelphia district manager, "knew who I [St. John] was." (St. John Dep. at 12, 21.)

One week later, Casillas again explained to St. John that the reason he did not get the supervisor position was because of the EEO complaints he had filed. (Id. at 26-28.) At his deposition, in response to the question "Did you ever tell Mr. St. John that his EEO activity would be a problem for him in his quest to become a supervisor," Casillas responded:

Not that it would be a problem, but . . . you know, I always try to give Mr. St. John advice . . . . And I tell him, I say, listen, you want to move up in any corporation, you got to play the game, whatever, you know. And in this case, you go with the flow. All right? Now, knowing his background, and we've talked, you know, certain things you just don't do. All right? You don't make a lot of noise and expect people you know, to tend to you. It's not like being a kid. You know, a kid is hungry. All right? But here when we're all adults, you have to conform to the rules and regulations of your employer. (Casillas Dep. at 10-11.)

St. John contends that it is common practice for management officials to contact an applicant's current post office to gather information about the applicant after an application is submitted. (St. John Dep. at 28-29.) Daniel Dugan, who was and still is the Postmaster at Elkins Park, also supervised St. John at Elkins Park. (Dugan Decl. ¶ 2.) Dugan asserts that he was not contacted by anyone from the Doylestown or Philadelphia Post Offices concerning St. John's applications for the supervisory positions. (Id. ¶ 7.) Further, both Dugan and Casillas assert that they were not involved in the selection process for any of the eleven positions St. John applied for in 2010. (Dugan Decl. ¶ 5-7; Casillas Decl. ¶ 8.)

B. Overtime Annotations

St. John continued to work at Elkins Park after he was denied the Doylestown and North Philadelphia supervisor positions. St. John worked 17.13 hours of overtime from April 5 to April 28, 2010, and 1.73 hours of overtime on May 5, 2010. (SOUF ¶ 34.) Overtime hours worked by letter carriers employed by the USPS are recorded on the Overtime Desired List ("ODL"), which is accessible to St. John and his co-workers. (St. John Dep. at 38-41.) The ODL references the overtime hours that letter carriers work on other carrier's routes, but it does not outline overtime worked on a letter carrier's own route. (Dugan Decl. ¶ 9.) The Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") between the USPS and the letter carriers union requires that all opportunities for overtime from the ODL be equalized between all employed letter carriers at each post office at the end of every fiscal quarter. (SOUF ¶ 27-28.)

St. John alleges that he was improperly denied five or six total hours of overtime on certain days in April 2010 and May 2010, which fall in the third fiscal quarter of 2010. (St. John Dep. at 52, 67, 70.) He testified that Dugan did not want him to receive any overtime because he previously filed an EEO complaint against Dugan. (Id. at 70.) On this issue, Casillas, who was in charge of apportioning ODL overtime for all Elkins Park letter carriers, asserts that he authorized ODL overtime in April 2010 and May 2010 so that all letter carriers were given equal overtime opportunities by the end of the fiscal quarter. (Casillas Decl. ¶ 12.) St. John does not dispute that his total opportunity for ODL overtime for the third fiscal quarter of 2010 was equal to that of the other Elkins Park letter carriers at the end of the quarter.

In April 2010, Dugan annotated the ODL to show the amount of overtime St. John had worked on his own route. (Compl. ¶ 24.) These types of annotations had not been made with respect to other letter carriers' names in the past. (St. John Dep. at 8-18.) According to St. John, his co-workers began to "grumble" about the perceived increased overtime that St. John was receiving, and this "created aggravation for [St. John] with respect to his fellow carriers." (Id. at 38-41) St. John subsequently filed a grievance regarding the annotations with his union in April 2010. (Id. at 39.) In response, Dugan agreed to stop annotating the ODL. (Id.) Plaintiff's overtime hours and compliance under the CBA rules were not affected by Dugan's annotations. (Id.)

C. 204-B Temporary Acting Supervisor Position

In a letter dated March 11, 2010, St. John informed Dugan that he was interested in being considered for any future temporary acting supervisor 204-B vacancies at Elkins Park because it would provide him with the additional experience he was told he needed during the North Philadelphia supervisor interview. (Resp. Ex. 1.) Dugan responded to the letter by informing St. John that he would pursue 204-B positions for St. John at other post offices and keep him informed. (St. John Dep. at 79-80.)

There is no formal application or selection process for a 204-B position and no announcement was made regarding the 204-B vacancy at Elkins Park in August 2010. (Dugan Affidavit ¶ 19.) St. John contends that Dugan failed to post the 204-B position in order to prevent St. John from becoming aware of the opening. (Resp. at 15.)

Casillas was no longer working at Elkins Park when Dugan ultimately filled the 204-B position, having left for another job in June 2010. (Casillas Decl. ¶ 2.) Dugan hired Patricia Wong as the 204-B for Elkins Park in August 2010. (Dugan Affidavit ¶ 20-21.) At the time of hiring, Wong was classified as a Transitional Employee. (Dugan Affidavit ¶ 21-22.) As a Transitional Employee, Wong was not eligible for the same benefits, overtime pay, or salary increases permanent employees like St. John would be eligible to receive in the 204-B position.

(Dugan Affidavit ¶ 22.) Wong also had prior experience in a 204-B position in New Jersey. (Id.) Dugan testified at his deposition that he believed Wong was the best candidate and chose to hire Wong over St. John for the 204-B position because St. John lacked supervisory experience, had previous problems with co-workers which would affect office morale if he was given the 204-B position, and would cost more than Wong to employ in the 204-B position. (Dugan Affidavit ¶ 23; Dugan Declaration ¶ 7.)

St. John commenced this action against the USPS, alleging that USPS supervisors unlawfully retaliated against him for engaging in protected EEO conduct. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary ...


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