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Brown v. Delaware River Port Auth.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 28, 2014

ANDRE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, Defendant

Page 557

JACQUELINE M. VIGILANTE, MULLICA HILL, NJ, Attorney for plaintiff.

WILLIAM M. TAMBUSSI, CHRISTOPHER A. ORLANDO, BROWN & CONNERY LLP, WESTMONT, NJ, Attorney for defendant.

OPINION

Page 558

NOEL L. HILLMAN, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff has brought claims of employment discrimination on account of race under Title VII for defendant's failure to promote him from police sergeant to lieutenant. Before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons expressed below, defendant's motion will be granted.

Page 559

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Andre Brown, is an African-American police sergeant with defendant Delaware River Port Authority (" DRPA" ). On November 23, 2009, a vacancy announcement was posted in the DRPA for the position of lieutenant (" initial posting" ). Qualifying applicants must have previously served as sergeant and, among other qualifications, have a bachelor's degree in a related field. Pursuant to DRPA policy, a vacancy notification is required for each vacancy, and must be approved by the CEO and circulated. The vacancy notification which was circulated and approved by the executive and administrative officers of the DRPA included a position description for lieutenant, which had been revised and approved in February 2009. The notification stated that there was one vacancy, created by the retirement of Lieutenant Nottingham.

Plaintiff applied for the promotion along with seventeen other sergeants, six of which, including plaintiff, had the requisite education. Two were African American, four were Caucasian. The initial posting remained open from November 23, 2009 through and including December 4, 2009.

Internal emails at DRPA show that the initial posting was revised (" revised posting" ) on November 24, 2009 - the day after the initial posting and six days before plaintiff or anyone else applied for the position. However, the applicants were not informed of the revised posting until December 8, 2009, via email. The DRPA internally posted the revised posting on December 9, 2009. The revised posting reduced the educational requirement from a bachelor's degree to an associate's degree or documented law enforcement training within the past five years. Plaintiff claims that the DRPA intentionally discriminated against him when it reduced the initial posting's educational requirement to enable lesser-qualified Caucasians to qualify for the position.

As a result of the revised posting, four applicants without bachelor's degrees made the cut, and were among the six applicants promoted; three were Caucasian (Bollendorf, Finnegan, and Luongo), and one was Hispanic (Santiago). The other two selected candidates were Caucasian (O'Neil) and African-American (Cobbs). Plaintiff was not selected for promotion to lieutenant.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

The Court has subject matter jurisdiction of this case pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (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

Page 560

and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." [1]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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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 ...


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