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Mallet v. Potter

March 17, 2008

THEASTER MALLET, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

This matter has come before the Court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Oral argument was held on March 10, 2008, and the record of that proceeding is incorporated here. For the reasons expressed on the record that date, as well as those that follow, the motion will be granted.

Background

Plaintiff Theaster Mallet filed the Complaint in this matter against his employer, the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, Eastern Area. He alleges that he was discriminated against on the basis of his age and race, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was not selected to fill a vacant position with the Postal Service.

On or about October 16, 2004, the maintenance manager at the Postal Service's Mount Holly, New Jersey facility accepted a promotion, vacating the maintenance manager's position. The open position, at grade level EAS-16, was not posted in accord with the Postal Service Employee and labor Relations Manual because a noncompetitive application for voluntary lateral reassignment or change to a lower level had been received.

At the time, Mallet had been employed for four years at EAS-17 as a supervisor of maintenance operations assigned to the South Jersey Processing and Distribution Center in Bellmawr, New Jersey. He also had sixteen years experience in postal maintenance.

On November 16, 2004, Mallet hand-delivered his P.S. Form 991 application and a letter indicating his interest in a "non-competitive lateral transfer" to the Mount Holly maintenance manager's position to Gary Carrasquillo, the Mount Holly Postmaster. (Mallet Dep., Exh. 3.) He felt that the manager's position had "an enhanced status, greater networking possibilities, and business travel opportunities, thereby creating a greater potential for promotion." (Compl. ¶ 15.) Although the position was at a lower grade level, Mallet's pay would have remained the same. (Id.) In addition, the manager's position was located at a facility significantly closer to Mallet's home. (Id.)

After calling Mallet's second level manager about his performance, Carrasquillo interviewed Mallet on November 22, 2004, but Mallet did not feel he was given a fair interview because no questions were asked of him regarding maintenance, a key component of the open position, and because "Carrasquillo avoided eye contact with Mallet, hurried through the interview, and made no effort to get to know Mallet or find out his abilities." (Compl. ¶ 19.) Mallet called Carrasquillo on November 24, 2004, and learned that the other individual who had applied for the position, Gary Jones, had been selected. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Jones had previously been a customer service supervisor at the Mount Holly facility; and Mallet has alleged he had no maintenance experience or responsibilities. (Compl. ¶ 23.)

Mallet is African-American, and in 2004 he was fifty-six years old. Gary Jones is Caucasian, and was thirty-six years old at the time.

Summary Judgment Standard

"Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Pearson v. Component Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)); accord Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). Thus, this Court will enter summary judgment only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c).

An issue is "genuine" if supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F. Supp. 1254, 1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Andersen, 477 U.S. at 256-57. "A nonmoving party may not 'rest upon mere allegations, general denials or . . . vague statements . . . .'" Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991)). Indeed, the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary ...


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