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Gillyard v. Geithner

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 28, 2015

ALVIN GILLYARD, Plaintiff,
v.
TIMOTHY F. GEITHNER, Secretary, Department of the Treasury, Defendant

Page 438

For ALVIN GILLYARD, Plaintiff: OLUGBENGA O. ABIONA, LEAD ATTORNEY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For TIMOTHY F. GEITHNER, SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Defendant: ANNETTA FOSTER GIVHAN, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 439

MEMORANDUM

EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, Judge.

Plaintiff Alvin Gillyard brings this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging retaliation against Defendant Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.[1] Plaintiff avers that as an employee of the United States Mint, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Defendant unlawfully retaliated against him by refusing to rehire him after he filed complaints alleging racial discrimination. Defendant has moved for summary judgment and, for the following reasons, the Court will grant the motion.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff, an African-American male, is a former United States Mint (the " Agency" ) employee who began his employment on November 16, 1998, as a Material Expediter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 6, 8. The Agency terminated Plaintiff in January 2002 as part of a reduction in force (" RIF" ), id. ¶ 9, but then recalled him in March 2004 to a temporary two-year appointment, id. ¶ 10. Upon returning, Plaintiff learned that, at the time of the RIF, he had " bumping rights" over two Caucasian Material Expediters--that is, Plaintiff had seniority over these two employees. Id. ¶ 11. After discovering this information, Plaintiff complained to Adrienne Cropp, the Agency's Equal Employment Opportunity (" EEO" ) Specialist, and Ruth Cosby, the Agency's EEO Counselor, about this alleged discriminatory treatment. Id. ¶ 14. According to Plaintiff, Cropp did not file an EEO complaint on his behalf, nor did she tell him what his rights were if she refused to file his complaint. Id. ¶ 14. Similarly, Cosby said she would look into his claim but she did not file an EEO complaint. ¶ 15.

In 2007, Plaintiff obtained a Heat Treater position. Id. ¶ 17. This was a temporary position, and although Plaintiff applied for permanent positions, he was unsuccessful. Id. Cosby and John Brenner, a Human Resources specialist, told Plaintiff that he could not apply because he was a temporary employee, although the Agency had converted two other temporary employees to permanent positions. Id.

Thereafter, Plaintiff and approximately seven other African-American employees filed complaints with the Agency's Office of Special Counsel (" OSC" ) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (" MSPB" ) alleging racial discrimination. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff was the spokesperson for this group, and alleged that management was discriminating against African-American employees. Id. ¶ 19. In January 2008, the Agency dismissed the group complaint. Id. ¶ 20.

Page 440

The Agency laid off Plaintiff from his temporary Heat Treater position in March 2008. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff then applied for a job as Material Handler at the Agency's Denver, Colorado, location. Id. ¶ 21. The Agency allegedly offered Plaintiff the job, but then withdrew this offer on April 15, 2008, because Plaintiff had not registered with the Selective Service System; yet, as Plaintiff notes, the Agency had approximately thirty-two Philadelphia employees who were not registered for Selective Service. Id. Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) on February 15, 2009. Def.'s Br. 2. Plaintiff also applied for three additional positions, to no avail: on December 22, 2008, the Agency rejected Plaintiff's application for the position of Metal Forming Machine Operator; on January 7, 2009, the Agency rejected Plaintiff's application for the position of Coining/Weighing/Kuster Machine Operator; and on November 16, 2010, the Agency rejected Plaintiff's application for the position of Metal Forming Machine Operator. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 25-27. Plaintiff subsequently filed this suit, which originally brought two claims: (1) race discrimination, in violation of Title VII; and (2) retaliation, in violation of Title VII.

The Court granted Defendant's motion to partially dismiss the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 16), and dismissed the discrimination claim (Count I) for Plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. ECF No. 26. Following discovery, Defendant moved for summary judgment on the retaliation claim (Count II). ECF No. 37. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 39), to which Defendant has replied (ECF No. 42). Defendant's motion is ripe for disposition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). " A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by 'the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). A fact is " material" if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is " genuine" if " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

The Court will view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. " After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Pignataro v. Port Auth., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the nonmoving party who must " set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250 (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Under Title VII,

[i]t shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees or applicants

Page 441

for employment . . . because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). Plaintiff offers no direct evidence of retaliation and therefore his case succeeds or fails depending on his ability to show indirect evidence of retaliation. Where only indirect evidence is available, Courts analyze Title VII retaliation cases according to the three-step burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-05, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Anderson v. Wachovia Mortg. Corp., 621 F.3d 261, 270 (3d Cir. 2010).

First a plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of retaliation, wherein he " must tender evidence that: '(1) []he engaged in activity protected by Title VII; (2) the employer took an adverse employment action against h[im]; and (3) there was a causal connection between h[is] participation in the protected activity and the adverse employment action.'" Moore v. City of Phila.,461 F.3d 331, 340-41 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Nelson v. Upsala Coll.,51 F.3d 383, 386 (3d Cir. 1995)). An " adverse employment action" in this context is an action that " well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination." B ...


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