United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Mary-Ellen Marley, pro se
B. Taylor, Assistant U.S. Attorney U.S. ATTORNEY'S
OFFICE, Attorney for Defendant
JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief U.S. District Judge
employment discrimination litigation, pro se
Plaintiff Mary-Ellen Marley (hereinafter,
"Plaintiff"), alleges that her longtime former
federal employer, the United States Postal Service, engaged
in a series of retaliatory conduct during the fall of 2009,
leading to her eventual termination. The remaining Defendant,
Patrick R. Donahue, Postmaster General of the United States
Postal Service (hereinafter, "Defendant"), moves
for summary judgment on Plaintiff's sole remaining claim
of Title VII retaliation based on three separate incidents in
the fall of 2009. The principal issue to be decided is
whether Plaintiff has adduced evidence from which a
reasonable factfinder could find that the Postal Service
retaliated against her due to her filing of an EEO Complaint
on August 24, 2009.
reasons that follow, Defendant's motion for summary
judgment will be granted.
joined the United States Postal Service in November 1980 as a
temporary worker, and became a regular employee in 1985.
(Marley Dep. 25:6-20.) From 1982 until her termination in
2010, she worked at the post office in Sewell, New Jersey.
(Id. at 27:4-9.)
January 2007, Plaintiff began filing complaints with the
USPS's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity
("EEO"). (Def. SMF ¶ 8.) Two of
Plaintiff's EEO actions, Complaint Nos. 4C-080-0080-07
and 4C-080-0024-08, were informal complaints that were
resolved on October 16, 2007 and March 31, 2008,
respectively. (Id. at ¶ 9.) In Complaint No.
4C-080-0029-07, Plaintiff challenged the denial of her
application for workers' compensation benefits, and that
was subsequently dismissed for failure to state a claim.
(Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.) In Complaint No.
4C-080-0065-08, Plaintiff complained that Supervisor Sharon
White ("hereinafter, Ms. White") discriminated on
the bases of sex, age and disability, and retaliated against
her, when Ms. White sent Plaintiff home and charged her Leave
Without Pay on May 1, 2008, but the Final Agency Decision
found no discrimination. (Id. at ¶¶
12-13.) Then, on January 20, 2009, in Complaint No.
4C-080-0015-09, Plaintiff challenged a Notice of Removal
issued in December 2008 and attributed to Supervisor Edwin
Schofield (hereinafter, "Mr. Schofield") and
Postmaster Evelyn Hunley (hereinafter, "Postmaster
Hunley"). (Id. at ¶ 14.) Plaintiff
contended that Mr. Schofield was directed by Postmaster
Hunley to lodge progressive discipline against Plaintiff
because Plaintiff had previously reported the Postmaster for
wrongdoing. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 76.) Plaintiff
further contended that Postmaster Hunley was trying to get
rid of her because she reported Postmaster Hunley's
misuse of USPS resources to upper management. (Id.
at ¶ 16.) This EEO complaint was dismissed as moot in
April 2009 because she did not request any compensatory
damages. (Id. at ¶ 17, Ex. G to Def. Br.)
in February 2009, Plaintiff filed a grievance after Mr.
Schofield had police escort her the building after an
argument between Plaintiff and Mr. Schofield. (Def. SMF at
¶¶ 18-19; Marley Dep. at 44:13-22.) This associated
grievance was resolved in April 2009, and did not involve
allegations of discrimination. (Id. at ¶ 19.)
was on leave from February until April 17, 2009, was
reassigned to the nearby Deptford Post Office in May, and
returned to the Sewell Post Office in June 2009. (Marley Dep.
at 46:20-25.) Plaintiff did not receive any new discipline in
June, July, or August 2009 before the August 24, 2009
incident. (Id. at 47:1-12; Def. SMF at ¶ 20.)
August 24, 2009 Incident with Mr. Schofield
August 24, 2009, Plaintiff explains that as she was turning
with a tray of mail in her hands preparing it for loading and
delivery, Mr. Schofield and Ms. White approached her waving
her Form 3396, relating to overtime. (Def. SMF at ¶ 25;
Opp'n at 4.) Mr. Schofield stated that he approached
Plaintiff because of her late request for a substantial
amount of assistance to deliver her mail that day. (Def. SMF
at ¶¶ 27, 31-32.) He believed that her request for
overtime assistance was unreasonable based on a computer
program called DOIS. (Id. at ¶¶ 30, 34.)
As Plaintiff bent to put her tray down, Mr. Schofield
"deliberatively moved" her cart, "cocked his
leg" on her equipment, claiming that Plaintiff was
unreasonable in her overtime hours she submitted. (Ex. K to
Def. Br.; Opp'n at 4.) Plaintiff replied, "[g]et
your crotch out of my face!" (Opp'n at 4.) Mr.
Schofield then stated, "Mary there is no room for you in
my post office. Clock out and go home." (Ex. 9 to
Opp'n.) Mr. Schofield stated that he rested his foot on
the cart and tried to get Plaintiff's attention by
calling her name several times, and that he had stood this
way previously. (Def. SMF at ¶ 36.) He denies that he
placed his "crotch" in Plaintiff's face, and
thought her behavior was insubordinate, inappropriate, and
disrespectful. (Id. at ¶¶ 38-39.)
Plaintiff filled out a notice of absence, left, and called
the EEO hotline. (Opp'n at 4.)
August 28, 2009, Plaintiff wrote a letter via certified mail
to Postmaster Hunley in which she informed Postmaster Hunley
that she had filed an EEO complaint against her and Mr.
Schofield, and she copied Ms. White. (Def. SMF ¶ 21; Ex.
AA to Def. Br.) Postmaster Hunley refused receipt of the
letter, which was returned to Plaintiff in its unopened
envelope. (Def. SMF ¶ 22; Marley Dep. at 38:14 to
October 5, 2009 Incident ...