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Finizie v. McDonald

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 30, 2017

SHARON A. FINIZIE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT A. MCDONALD, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.

         Plaintiff Sharon Finizie (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) against Robert A. McDonald, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, alleging two counts of retaliation in connection with protected activity under Title VII. Defendant moved for summary judgment, and Plaintiff opposed the motion. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion and enter judgment in favor of Defendant on all claims in this case.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff is a registered nurse who has been employed for over 35 years by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (the “Philadelphia VAMC”). Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1. She has an extensive history of prior activity with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Def.'s Statement of Material Facts Supporting Mot. Summ. J. 2 ¶ 3, ECF No. 29; Pl.'s Resp. to Statement of Material Facts Supporting Mot. Summ. J. 1 ¶ 3, ECF No. 32-1.

         In February 2010, in response to Vacancy Announcement No. 95-2010, Plaintiff applied at the VA for the position of “RN-Infection Control.” Compl. ¶¶ 8-9. Vacancy Announcement No. 95-2010 stated that it was to remain “Open Until Filled.” Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff alleges that she met all of the basic and preferred qualifications for the position and was interviewed on March 17, 2010. Id. ¶ 11. In August 2010, Plaintiff was notified that the vacancy had been cancelled. Id. ¶ 12.

         The VA then posted another vacancy announcement for the position “Registered Nurse, Infection Control Nurse” under Job Announcement No. 305-10. Id. ¶ 14. This posting designated its open period from “8/27/10 until the position is filled.” Id. Plaintiff submitted her application for this position on September 10, 2010. Id. ¶¶ 14-16. In October 2010, Plaintiff was notified in writing that she had not been selected to fill the vacancy. Id. ¶ 17.

         On September 27, 2010, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC, alleging that she had been discriminated against based on her prior Title VII protected activity when the VA cancelled the vacancy announcement of the first position. Id. ¶ 18. Without holding a hearing, the EEOC administrative judge rendered a finding of no discrimination. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff administratively appealed the decision, and the EEOC issued a final decision against her on February 3, 2015. Id. ¶ 23.

         On December 6, 2010, Plaintiff filed a second formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC, alleging that she had been discriminated against in retaliation for her prior Title VII protected activity when she was not selected for the second vacancy to which she applied. Id. ¶ 19. This second complaint was assigned to a different EEOC administrative judge, who, after holding an administrative hearing on the merits, rendered a finding of no discrimination. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff administratively appealed the decision, and the EEOC issued a final decision against her on January 22, 2015. Id. ¶ 24.

         Based on the foregoing facts, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court on April 20, 2015, alleging two counts of retaliation in connection with protected activity under Title VII. See id. ¶¶ 25-28. The first count relates to the cancellation of Vacancy Announcement No. 95-2010. Id. ¶¶ 18, 25. The second count relates to Plaintiff's non-selection for the position listed in Job Announcement No. 305-10. Id. ¶¶ 19, 27.

         Defendant answered Plaintiff's complaint on July 16, 2015. ECF No. 4. Following discovery, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on November 4, 2016. ECF No. 29. Plaintiff responded on December 19, 2016, ECF No. 32, and Defendant moved for leave to file a reply brief on February 21, 2017, ECF No. 36.[1] The motion is now ripe for disposition.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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 (1986)). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the litigation; 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.

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court views 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. of N.Y. & N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, but meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the nonmoving party, who then must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).

         III. ...


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