Meiri appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Owen, Judge) granting the INS's motion for summary judgment and directing that Meiri's complaint be dismissed.
Kaufman, Oakes, and Meskill, Circuit Judges.
This case requires us to address the propriety of granting summary judgment in an employment discrimination suit brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Miriam Meiri alleged she was discharged from her clerk-stenographer position at the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") because of her religion. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of INS, finding that Meiri had failed to establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination. Although we are inclined to agree with Meiri that a prima facie case was indeed made, we nonetheless affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment because Meiri failed to proffer any evidence suggesting that the stated reasons for her discharge were merely a pretext for religious discrimination.
Mindful that "the court cannot try issues of fact, it can only determine whether there are issues to be tried," Heyman v. Commerce and Industry Co., 524 F.2d 1317, 1319-20 (2d Cir. 1975), we shall proceed carefully to limn the relevant facts necessary to resolve the instant confrontation between a claim of employment discrimination based on religion and the pragmatic needs of the judiciary.
The saga of Miriam Meiri, an Orthodox Jewish woman, began on May 14, 1979, when she was given a conditional appointment by the INS as a clerk-stenographer. Her appointment was subject to a one-year probationary period, during which Meiri was required to demonstrate her fitness for continued employment in the areas of performance, conduct and general character traits.*fn1 Because the task of determining an employee's occupational aptitude may, in certain instances, be extremely difficult, the INS has instructed its supervisors to "[o]bserve the employee's conduct, general character traits and performance closely." Where circumstances so warrant, the employee is to be separated "without undue formality." The responsibility of assessing Meiri's job performance fell to Claudius Dacon, a black Protestant male, who was the Record Administration and Information Section Supervisor with the INS at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City.
During the first nine months of her employment, Meiri exhibited numerous instances of inappropriate behavior that expressly contravened established INS policy, committed a variety of inexplicable, imprudent and indiscrete acts and generally usurped power wherever possible. We believe it would prove instructive to describe seriatim certain undisputed actions that exemplified Meiri's employment difficulties:
1. Meiri, without authority, wrote a letter to the United States
Vice-Counsel in Vancouver, Canada.
2. Meiri, again absent authorization, wrote caustic memoranda to
supervisors in other sections. She ordered one supervisor to
return certain forms by a deadline that she imposed without
authority; Meiri castigated another for alleged violations of
timekeeping;*fn2 and she sent an unauthorized memorandum announcing
the promotion of an employee.
3. Meiri criticized the Chief of the Travel Control Unit about
matters that were entirely outside her position's limited purview.
4. Meiri composed and mailed an unauthorized letter on official
government stationery to an alien, stating that he should contact
her to retrieve "important documents" he had lost.
5. Meiri repeatedly interrogated incoming ...