The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMAHON, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
Defendant has moved for summary judgment, pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b) in this employment discrimination and
retaliation case. The standard for granting summary judgment is
almost too well-known to be reiterated. Summary judgment is
appropriate when there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter
of law. Such a motion serves "to isolate and dispose of factually
unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); see also Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
The salutary purposes of summary judgment — avoiding protracted,
expensive and harassing trials — apply no less to discrimination
cases than to commercial or other areas of litigation. See
Dister v. Continental Group, Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir.
1988). With this in mind, I turn to the motion made by the
Postmaster General in this case. As I must, I view all the
evidence most favorably to the non-movant, plaintiff.
Plaintiff alleges that he was originally discriminated against
in February 1994 on the basis of his race (white) and nationality
(Italian). He cannot presently recall what caused him to file his
original EEOC claim and he testified at his deposition that he
never perceived his supervisors, Napolean Williams and Vincent
Ciancio, to be discriminating against him for his ethnicity or
his race. Rather, he stated under oath that he thought he was
being harassed at work by the Postmaster (Williams) and by his
supervisor (Ciancio) because he had reported Ciancio to the
Postal Inspectors in 1991. Whatever the basis for his complaint,
plaintiff acknowledges that it was conciliated and resolved by
Enid Samuels, an EEO investigator, in July of the same year.
In October 1994, plaintiff again sought EEO counseling, because
he believed that he was being discriminated against in
retaliation for his prior EEO activity. He withdrew this
complaint, but filed another in December 1994, claiming that he
was subject to unusual supervision and repeated outbursts of
temper by Williams, Ciancio and Glen Smith, another supervisor,
as well as being given a "hard time" when he sought overtime
assistance. Nicastro observed that the supervisors behaved
differently toward other employees who made the same or similar
requests. Nicastro also contended that he had received an unusual
number of letters of warning during this period.
In April 1995, while lifting mail, plaintiff injured his right
shoulder, receiving a diagnosis of bicipital tendinitis. After
his injury, Nicastro contends that he returned to full duty.
However, in November 1995, he suffered a recurrence of the injury
and was placed on a 25 pound weight restriction. Thereafter, due
to chronic pain, Nicastro's weight restriction was adjusted to 20
pounds, then 10 and finally 5 pounds in the fall of 1997.
Plaintiff claims that he was required to bring in doctor's notes
more often than other postal service employees who were injured,
which he again attributes to his prior EEO activity. He also
contends that Smith gave him a hard time about his injury and his
requests for street assistance due to same, and claims that, when
Nicastro documented their exchange, Smith said, "Put that in your
little book and tell the EEO. I don't fuckin' care."
In April 1997, plaintiff bid for City Route # 1, a posted
vacancy. He was the senior person who bid for the slot. Plaintiff
claims that, while his weight restriction was 20 pounds at the
time of the bid, thus placing him "technically" on limited duty,
he was already "carrying" City Route # 1 and had been for some
months at the behest of his various supervisors. Plaintiff found
ways to reduce the weight of the satchel by breaking up the
relay, and occasionally by asking a customer to come into the
station to pick up a heavier package. Nicastro claimed that his
weight restriction did not interfere with his ability to carry
the mail, and the new postmaster at Wappingers Falls, Quinn,
confirmed that he saw plaintiff carrying the route and made no
negative comment about his performance. He does not dispute,
however, that the job description for a route postal carrier
included the ability to carry 70 pounds of mail; indeed, he so
testified at his deposition.
Plaintiff filed a complaint after he was denied the bid,
claiming that he was refused the position because of his prior
EEO activity. Shortly thereafter, Nicastro received a letter of
warning because he was not wearing the postal uniform hat. Quinn
admits that others were out of uniform and did not receive
written warnings. After a union grievance, the postal service
modified the letter from a warning to an official discussion.
In June 1997, plaintiff had surgery on his right shoulder. He
received another letter of warning concerning his time off, which
was again modified downward after a union grievance.
After his surgery, plaintiff remained subject to the 20 pound
restriction. Nonetheless, in September 1997, he was reassigned to
the "collection run." Defendant contends that Nicastro was
assigned to this run in order to accommodate his weight
restriction; plaintiff claims that he never asked for any
accommodation but said the assignment actually aggravated his
injury. When he complained after two days, he was taken off the
Eventually, plaintiff was reassigned to the post office at
Hudson, in order to accommodate his medical restriction, which by
this point was 5 pounds.
Plaintiff contends that this entire series of events was
retaliation for his filing of the EEO complaints in 1994. Having
never filed a timely charge with the EEOC, plaintiff has made no
complaint of racial or ethnic origin discrimination in violation
of Title VII; he complains only of retaliatory treatment.
The Government moves for summary judgment on several grounds,
including, inter alia, plaintiff's alleged failure to
demonstrate that he had a good faith basis for filing his initial
complaints of racial and ethnic origin discrimination,
plaintiff's inability to fulfill the basic requirements of the
job opportunity he was seeking, and ...