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Wilcher v. Potter

June 18, 2010

CHARLES WILCHER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, AND UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

This matter has come before the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for disparate treatment based on his race and gender. For the reasons expressed below, defendants' motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

In September 2000, plaintiff, Charles Wilcher, became a "craft"*fn1 employee of the United States Postal Service. He first served as a letter carrier, but in July 2006, he became a 204B acting supervisor of the Vineland Delivery and Distribution Center. As a 204B supervisor, plaintiff retained his craft status, but he performed duties of a first-level supervisor.

On March 16, 2007, plaintiff was issued a Notice of Removal, which terminated his employment with the USPS. The Notice of Removal charged plaintiff with improper conduct for being paid for eight hours on July 5, 2006 even though he had not reported for duty that day. Through two formal complaints filed with the EEOC, a grievance filed by his union, and a three-day arbitration hearing, plaintiff challenged the basis for removal by maintaining that he did work on July 5, 2006. Plaintiff explained that he did not perform his supervisor duties that day on the floor, but rather spent the entire day filing with the Vineland Postmaster in her office, behind closed doors or otherwise in an area where other USPS employees could not see him.*fn2

An Office of Inspector General investigation ensued into plaintiff's explanation, and the arbitrator and plaintiff's supervisors all determined it to be without merit, thus leading to plaintiff's discharge. Plaintiff, however, insists that he worked on that date,*fn3 and claims that the USPS terminated his employment because is a black male. As a result, plaintiff filed this action against the USPS*fn4 for unlawful discrimination based on his race and gender.*fn5

Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of race or gender discrimination. Defendants also argue that even if plaintiff could meet his prima facie case, plaintiff has not sufficiently rebutted the USPS's reasons for discharge to prove it was really a pretext.*fn6 Plaintiff argues in response that he has provided evidence sufficient to prove that he suffered from disparate treatment to not only meet his prima facie case, but to allow his case to go to trial before a jury.

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c), which provides that any federal government employee, "within 90 days of receipt of notice of final action taken by a department, agency, or unit . . . if aggrieved by the final disposition of his complaint, or by the failure to take final action on his complaint, may file a civil action as provided in section 2000e-5 of this title, in which civil action the head of the department, agency, or unit, as appropriate, shall be the defendant."

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "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 a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

An issue is "genuine" if it is 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 considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Industrial Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

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. 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. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing summary ...


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