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CIANFRANO v. BABBITT

April 27, 1994

JOHN G. CIANFRANO, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE BABBITT, Director of U.S. Department of Interior, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOWARD G. MUNSON

 MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

 This action arises under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-1--2000e-17 (1988 & West Supp. 1994). Plaintiff alleges that he was dismissed from his position as an employee of defendant as a result of racial discrimination. Currently before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. At the request of the parties, the court took the motion on submission. The following constitutes the court's disposition of this motion.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff pro se filed this action on November 23, 1988, alleging that defendant Bruce Babbitt, in his capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Interior, *fn1" violated his civil rights. More specifically, plaintiff claims to have been released from his employment at Fort Stanwix National Monument ("FOST"), in Rome, New York, for reasons made unlawful by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1-2000e-17. *fn2" See Amended Complaint, Document ("Doc.") 5. Plaintiff, a white male, charges that his immediate supervisors at FOST discriminated against him because of his race. Those supervisors were Robert Guellich, a white male who served as Chief of the FOST Maintenance Department, and William N. Jackson, a black male who served as Superintendent of FOST.

 Plaintiff was hired to work at FOST by Robert Guellich, in May 1984. Jackson Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 5. Originally designated a seasonable laborer in the Maintenance Department, and a WG-1 wage earner, plaintiff soon became a full-time "TAPER" employee. Collins Affidavit, attached to 13, at P 8. TAPER is an acronym representing "temporary appointment pending establishment of a register," which is a federal employment category defined in the Federal Personnel Manual Regulations in Chapter 316, Subchapter 4. See Regulations, attached to Doc. 13; See also 5 C.F.R. § 316.201 (1994). As a TAPER employee, plaintiff was employed full-time on a seasonal basis, and was furloughed without pay from January through March of each year. Collins Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 8.

 While employed at FOST, plaintiff's supervisors reported that his work performance was satisfactory. In Performance Appraisal Forms utilized by NPS, William Jackson and Robert Guellich both attested that plaintiff's performance was at a minimum "fully successful" for each year between 1984 and 1987, inclusive. See Performance Appraisals, Defendant's Exhibit ("Def. Exh.") B, Doc. 14; Guellich Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 4. Indeed, the quality of plaintiff's work apparently improved over his tenure at FOST. *fn3"

 Pursuant to regulations set forth in the Federal Personnel Manual, plaintiff was due to be converted to permanent status on September 26, 1987. Collins Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 8; Jackson Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 13. Plaintiff, however, never achieved permanent status, as he was informed on August 24, 1987 that he was being "separated" from the National Park Service effective September 25, 1987. See Separation Notice, Def. Exh. H, Doc. 14. The separation notice, written by Superintendent Jackson, notified plaintiff that his termination was necessitated by continuing funding reductions at FOST. Id.

 To compensate for the loss of plaintiff, who was FOST'S only full-time maintenance worker, Superintendent Jackson extended a part-time seasonal maintenance position through December 31, 1987. Jackson Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 14. That position originally was scheduled to end September 31, 1987. Id. The WG-1 employee whose work at FOST was extended was William Timms, a black male. Id., Guellich Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 11. Plaintiff's former work was split between Timms and other employees at FOST. Plaintiff's position at FOST was eliminated, and he was not replaced. *fn4" Jackson Affidavit, attached to Doc. 13, at P 19.

 Plaintiff appealed his termination from employment with NPS to the United States Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB"). After a full hearing, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") affirmed plaintiff's separation in an Initial Decision, holding that the separation was implemented for a permissible reason, as part of a valid Reduction In Force ("RIF"). See Initial Decision, Def. Exh. S, Doc. 14; Transcript of Hearing, Def. Exh. R, Doc. 14. The ALJ's Initial Decision was upheld by the full Board in July 1988, and thereafter by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on October 19, 1988. See Initial Decision, Def. Exh. S, Doc. 14; EEOC Decision, Def. Exh. T, Doc. 14.

 Plaintiff then filed a timely complaint in this court, alleging jurisdiction pursuant to Title VII. Plaintiff argues that he was discriminated against on the basis of race. Specifically, plaintiff avers that while he was released as a result of the RIF, a less qualified minority had his period of employment extended. Defendant counters that the RIF was an economic necessity brought about by several successive years of budget cuts mandated by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standards for Summary Judgment

 The principles this court must apply in analyzing defendant's motion for summary judgment are well established. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) summary judgment shall enter if, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, the court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Servs., Inc., U.S. , , 112 S. Ct. 2072, 2077 (1992); Commander Oil v. Advance Food Serv. Equip., 991 F.2d 49, 51 (2d Cir. 1993). Where the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of proof on an issue, that party satisfies its summary judgment burden by "pointing to the absence of evidence to support an essential element of the non-moving party's claim." Brady v. Town of Colchester, 863 F.2d 205, 211 (2d Cir. 1986). Where the movant does shoulder the burden of proof, it must establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be decided regarding any element of that party's claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 In either case, if the movant satisfies its initial summary judgment burden, then the burden shifts to the nonmovant to proffer evidence demonstrating that a trial is required because a disputed issue of material fact exists. Weg v. Macchiarola, 995 F.2d 15, 18 (2d Cir. 1993). To survive the motion for summary judgment the nonmovant must do more than present evidence that is merely colorable, conclusory, or speculative, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986), and furthermore must show more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. ...


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