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FLETCHER v. POTTER

May 26, 2004.

RICHARD T. FLETCHER, Plaintiff, -v.- JOHN E. POTTER, Postmaster General, Defendant


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GABRIEL GORENSTEIN, Magistrate Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Richard T. Fletcher, proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e to 2000e-17, alleging that he was denied overtime and otherwise retaliated against and harassed by his employer, the United States Postal Service, on the basis of his race, color, and national origin. Defendant John E. Potter, Postmaster General, has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.*fn1 Potter asserts that Fletcher and the Postal Service reached a settlement agreement in 2001 which has been complied with, that Fletcher never exhausted his administrative remedies as to certain claims, and that Fletcher's claims fail on the merits. The parties have consented to disposition of this matter by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the following reasons, the motion is granted. I. BACKGROUND

A. Settlement Agreement

  Fletcher is an African-American male employed by the Postal Service as a custodian at the Peter Stuyvesant Station. Declaration of Richard T. Fletcher, undated (annexed to Plaintiffs Oppossition [sic] to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed April 8, 2004 (Docket #18) ("Pl. Opp.")), ¶ 1; Defendants' Statement Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56.1, dated March 12, 2004 (annexed to Notice of Motion, filed March 12, 2004 (Docket #16) ("Notice of Motion")), ¶ 1-2. In November 2000, Fletcher completed an Equal Opportunity Office ("EEO") "Information for Precomplaint Counseling" form alleging discrimination based on his race and national origin and retaliation for engaging in protected activity in April 1997 and May 1998. See Information for Precomplaint Counseling, dated November 20, 2000 ("Counseling Letter") (reproduced as Ex. A to Declaration of Valerie E. Rooks, dated March 11, 2004 ("Rooks Decl.") (annexed to Notice of Motion)). Specifically, he alleged that he was being deprived of overtime hours that he should have been receiving as a senior custodian but which were instead being assigned to more junior personnel — in particular, William Dudley, Jr. Id. at 1-2. Fletcher agreed to participate in the Postal Service's alternative dispute resolution process with respect to these issues. See Agreement to Participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution Process, dated November 30, 2000 (reproduced as Ex. C to Declaration of Darrell K. Ahmed, dated March 11, 2004 ("Ahmed Decl.") (annexed to Notice of Motion)).

  On January 11, 2001, a mediation was held among Fletcher; John Condiles, the Manager of Customer Service at the Stuyvesant Station; Leon Yeserski, a supervisor; Darrell Ahmed, a Dispute Resolution Specialist; and Barbara Swartz, a trained neutral mediator and non-Postal Service employee. Ahmed Decl. ¶¶ 1-2, 8-9. Fletcher chose not to have a representative appear on his behalf. Id. ¶ 8. As a result of this mediation, which lasted approximately two hours, Fletcher and Condiles signed a settlement agreement. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. The agreement provided as follows:
I, Richard Fletcher, do hereby voluntarily withdraw my request for EEO counseling or formal complaint, as applicable, based on the stipulation(s) that:
(1) The parties agree that Richard Fletcher is entitled to overtime pay in the amount of 39 hours and 21 units.
(2) The parties agree to a labor-management meeting to be held as soon as possible to resolve the dispute about Monday overtime at Peter Stuyvesant and Thompkins [sic] Square Stations. Whatever resolution is made will go from April 3, 2000 to the date the dispute is resolved.
EEO Settlement Agreement, dated January 11, 2001 ("Settlement Agreement") (reproduced as Ex. B to Rooks Decl. and as Ex. D to Ahmed Decl.), at 1-2.

  By May 4, 2001, the Postal Service had reviewed Fletcher's overtime assignments and awarded him additional overtime pay in the amount of 44 hours and 9 units, thus granting him 4 hours and 48 units more than required under the first stipulation. Rooks Decl. ¶ 11.

  B. Fletcher's Claim of Breach

  On July 19, 2001, before the meeting called for by the second stipulation had taken place, Fletcher sent a letter to the Postal Service's EEO office claiming that the Settlement Agreement had been breached because Condiles "refuse[d] to do the paperwork" pursuant to that agreement and "owe[d] [Fletcher] for the 8-15 Mon[days]." Letter to Victor Olmo from Fletcher, dated July 19, 2001 (reproduced as Ex. C to Rooks Decl.).

  Shortly thereafter, on August 28, 2001, a meeting was held pursuant to the second stipulation to explain how Monday overtime opportunities at the two stations were distributed. Rooks Decl. ¶ 13. At that meeting, Valeric Rooks, a Labor Relations Specialist with the Postal Service, explained that Fletcher and Dudley had different "designations" or "bid positions" — which refer to the specific location where an employee is assigned to work. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4-5, 15-17. During the relevant period, Fletcher's bid position required him to work only at the Stuyvesant Station while Dudley's required him to work at both the Stuyvesant Station and the Tompkins Square Station. Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 17. Under the contract between the Postal Service and the New York Metro Area Postal Union of the American Postal Workers, AFL-CIO, overtime assignments are given to an employee who is designated to work at the particular facility where the overtime work is needed. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. Thus, when overtime custodial work is needed on a Monday at both stations, Dudley would be called in to perform the overtime rather than Fletcher because only Dudley is assigned to work at both stations. Id., ¶¶ 17-18.

  By letter dated September 25, 2001, the Postal Service denied Fletcher's July 19 complaint, noting that the meeting required by the agreement had been held on August 28, 2001 and that "your allegation of a breach of agreement does not conform to the facts in the record or disclose that the issues in the agreement were not met." Letter to Fletcher from James A. Connolly, dated September 25, 2001 (reproduced as Ex. 13 to Plaintiff Exhibits Opposing Motion ("PL Ex.") (annexed to Pl. Opp.) and as Ex. G to Rooks Decl.).

  Fletcher appealed this determination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See Notice of Appeal/Petition to the EEOC, dated October 18, 2001 (reproduced as Ex. H to Rooks Decl.). The EEOC determined that Fletcher had received more than the stipulated amount of back overtime pay and that
the settlement agreement does not provide that [Fletcher] will receive overtime for all Mondays during the period April 2000 through August 2001. Thus, the Commission finds that the agency did not breach item 2 of the settlement agreement when [Fletcher] was not paid for his expected Monday overtime during the relevant time period. Accordingly, the agency's decision finding no breach of the settlement agreement is AFFIRMED.
Decision on Appeal No. 01A20359, dated February 20, 2002 (annexed to Am. Compl. and reproduced as Ex. I to Rooks Decl.), at 1-2.

  C. The Instant Complaint and Subsequent Filings

  On April 15, 2002, Fletcher submitted the initial complaint in the instant action to the Court's Pro Se Office. On November 25, 2002, Chief Judge Michael B. Mukasey directed Fletcher to file an amended complaint detailing all relevant facts and events and describing how his rights were violated. See Order, filed November 25, 2002 (Docket #3). In his Amended Complaint, Fletcher states as follows:
The United States Postal Service is not acting like [an] Equal Opportunity Employer. Custodian David William['s] bid at Peter Stuyvesant Post Office is from 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday lay off days Sat. & Sun. David William was not on the job from Nov. 1999 or Dec. 1999 until June 2002. This is where my complaint comes from. I should have had all overtime on Mondays at Peter Stuyvesant P.O. I am [the] senior custodian. United States Postal Service willfully mislead[s] U.S.E.E.O.C. and United States District Court N.Y. Southern District.
Am. Compl. at 4. Fletcher further alleges that overtime on his days off — Sunday and Monday — is given to Dudley and Raymond Kemp, who are junior custodians. Id. at 6. In addition, he asserts that between February and June 2002, overtime was given to custodians from the Madison Square Post Office. Id. Fletcher also claims that supervisors Anthony Palazzo and Donald Grant falsify "write-ups" in order to harass and terrorize him, creating a hostile work environment. Id. at 6-7. On March 12, 2004, Potter moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Fletcher's claims are barred by the Settlement Agreement, are unexhausted, and are without merit. See Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, filed March 12, 2004 (Docket #17). The motion contained a notice warning Fletcher that any facts in Potter's statement pursuant to Local Civ. R. 56.1 would be deemed admitted if not controverted. See Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment, dated March 12, 2004 (annexed to Notice of Motion).

  Fletcher opposed Potter's motion, submitting a memorandum of law, see Plaintiff's Memorandum in Oppossition [sic] to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed April 8, 2004 (Docket #19) ("Opp. Mem."), and over 30 exhibits accompanied by some limited commentary as to what those exhibits are and what they are offered to prove, see PL Ex. Many of Fletcher's submissions contain material irrelevant to Potter's motion. In any ...


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