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METSOPULOS v. RUNYON

March 13, 1996

LOUIS METSOPULOS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MARVIN RUNYON, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LIFLAND

 LIFLAND, District Judge

 Defendant Marvin Runyon, the United States Postmaster General ("Postal Service"), moves to dismiss this action and for summary judgment, asserting that Louis Metsopulos' employment discrimination claims are either time-barred, untenable as a matter of law, or not cognizable by this Court given plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Metsopulos, pro se, contends that he has exhausted his administrative remedies and that discovery will uncover factual evidence with which he could parry the Postal Service's summary judgment thrust. For reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the defendant's motions.

 Background

 Until he retired on November 30, 1990, Louis Metsopulos, a white male of Greek ancestry, worked at the United States Postal Service as a postal operations officer, level 20, at the Newark, New Jersey facility. See Complaint P3; Highsmith Decl. at P3. In his Complaint filed on April 26, 1994, Metsopulos alleges that the Postal Service denied him various promotions due to illegal race, gender and age discrimination, as well as in retaliation for employment discrimination complaints he filed with the agency. The Court will now describe briefly each instance of alleged discrimination.

 In May 1987, the Postal Service passed over Metsopulos when it filled the position of Postmaster, Rutherford, New Jersey, level 22. See Highsmith Decl. at P4; Def's Ex. B. Although interviewed for the position, Metsopulos was not recommended, prompting him to file a formal Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") complaint with the Postal Service. See Def's Ex B.

 In October 1988, he was not selected for the position of Postmaster, Maplewood, New Jersey. See Highsmith Decl. at P9; Def's Ex. D. Metsopulos was interviewed for the position but was not recommended to the General Manager. Id. He then filed a formal EEO complaint concerning the Maplewood position.

 On March 29, 1989, plaintiff was not selected for the position of Postmaster, Orange, New Jersey. See Highsmith Decl. at P8; Def's Ex. E. Metsopulos also filed a formal EEO complaint objecting to this employment decision. See Def's Ex. E.

 After investigating and considering Metsopulos' allegations, the Postal Service found no discrimination and dismissed all five EEO complaints on June 18, 1992. See Def's Ex. G. He appealed the final agency disposition of these cases to the EEOC, which consolidated them as appeal number 01923724. See Def's Ex. H. The EEOC affirmed the final agency decision on February 26, 1993, see id., a decision Metsopulos received on March 10, 1993. See Morgan Decl. He timely filed for reconsideration, which was denied on March 17, 1994. See Exhibit attached to Complaint.

 In April 1988, Metsopulos and eight others applied to be Postmaster, Fort Lee, New Jersey. See Ferry Decl. at P4. He was not one of the six candidates interviewed by the review board. Id. at P7. Of the six people interviewed, five were white men and five were over 40 years old. Ultimately, no candidate was selected because the vacancy was cancelled and the position was reposted to a larger geographical area at a higher level. Id. at PP8-9. Metsopulos once again filed a formal EEO complaint, which the agency dismissed without finding any discrimination, a finding upheld by the EEOC on March 28, 1994. See Def's Ex. T.

 In June 1988, plaintiff was denied the position of Manager, Distribution Operations, level 23, in the North Jersey facility. See Highsmith Decl. at P7; Def's Ex. J. He filed a formal EEO complaint, which was dismissed with a finding of no discrimination on March 22, 1991. See Def's Ex. K. The matter, appealed to the EEOC as number 05930471, was disposed of at the administrative level on December 10, 1993 when the EEOC denied Metsopulos' request for reconsideration of the decision affirming the agency finding of no discrimination. See Def's Ex. L. He received that decision by certified mail on December 24, 1993. See Def's Ex. M.

 Metsopulos next applied for the Montclair Postmaster position, level 22, in July 1989 along with 15 other applicants. See Rear Decl. at P4. Although he was one of 11 applicants interviewed for the position, plaintiff was neither recommended nor selected for the position because, the Postal Service contends, he was less qualified than those applicants currently serving as postmasters. According to the chairman of the review board, moreover, Metsopulos did not impress the board during the interview as much as did the recommended candidates. See id. at PP6-9; Paige Aff. before the EEOC annexed as Def's Ex. O. He filed a formal EEO complaint, which the Postal Service found lacked factual support. See Def's Ex. P. Metsopulos appealed this determination to the EEOC, which affirmed the agency decision on September 14, 1993. See Def's Ex. Q. His request for reconsideration was denied one year later, on September 9, 1994. See Def's Ex. R.

 Lastly, P18 of the Complaint lists eight other instances of alleged discrimination: 1) in June 1986, Metsopulos was denied an interview for the position of Manager, Logistics level 22; 2) after interviewing him on September 12, 1986, the defendant rejected his application for the Hoboken Postmaster position, level 22; 3) in June 1986, Metsopulos was denied the Manager, Distribution, level 23 position; 4) defendant denied his request to cover for 59 days the Tour Superintendent, level 22 position; 5) the Postal Service interviewed Metsopulos but, on May 20, 1987, rejected his bid to fill the Cranford Postmaster position, level 21; 6) on August 6, 1987, after interviewing Metsopulos, defendant rejected his application for the Westfield Postmaster position, level 21; 7) in July 1987, defendant denied his request for lateral consideration for the Cedar Grove Postmaster position, level 20; and 8) on October 5, 1990, defendant denied Metsopulos' request to be detailed to cover the Logistics Manager position, level 22. According to Postal Service records, Metsopulos never filed EEO complaints regarding any of these positions. See Highsmith Decl. at P10.

 Discussion

 The Court recognizes its obligation to construe liberally pro se submissions to ensure that rules of pleading, sometimes thorns in the side of the most studied practitioner, do not subvert a litigant's opportunity for judicial remediation of wrongful conduct. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652, 92 S. Ct. 594 (1972). But a forgiving interpretation does not render immune from dismissal or summary judgment claims that lack procedural or factual viability. With this in mind, the ...


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