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Marinacci v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 31, 2017

RUDY J. MARINACCI, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, PATRICK DONAHOE, AND MEGAN BRENNAN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          LASHANN DEARCY HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se Plaintiff Rudy Marinacci brings the instant action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), alleging that Defendants United States Postal Service (“USPS”), Patrick Donahoe, and Megan Brennan (collectively, “Defendants”) discriminated against him on the basis of age, gender, religion, race, color, and national origin. Plaintiff also brings claims of hostile work environment and retaliation. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS[1]

         Plaintiff is a 59-year-old male born in 1957 who identifies as white, Caucasian, Catholic, and American. (Defs.' 56.1 Statement ¶ 1, ECF No. 34-3.) During the time period relevant to the instant action, Plaintiff was an employee of USPS. (Id. ¶ 2.) In 2011, Plaintiff served as manager of customer services at the Middle Village USPS station, with a pay grade level designation of EAS-20. (Id.) Prior to the events giving rise to this action, Plaintiff had filed two formal Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) complaints with the USPS Equal Employment Opportunity Office dated August 10, 2009, and February 18, 2011. (Id. ¶ 70.)

         I. Plaintiff's Temporary Detail at the Forest Hills Station

         On May 20, 2011, USPS assigned Plaintiff to a temporary detail as manager of customer services at the Forest Hills USPS station. (Id. ¶ 5.) The temporary detail was effected through a PS Form 1723 signed by Plaintiff's supervisor Paul Stremel on May 20, 2011. (Id.) Under the form's terms, Plaintiff was to serve on the temporary detail from May 21, 2011, until November 15, 2011, with a pay grade level designated EAS-22. (Id.) On May 20, 2011, Stremel also completed and executed an affidavit in connection with Plaintiff's February 18, 2011 EEO complaint. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 73-75.) Stremel is a white, Caucasian, Catholic, American male born in 1975. (Id. ¶ 44.)

         From June 1, 2011, until June 22, 2011, as the acting manager of customer services at the Forest Hills station, Plaintiff participated in staff telephonic conferences with other USPS employees. (Id. ¶ 7.) These conferences were referred to as “drill down” conferences, and their purpose was to discuss the station's performance, expectations, and action plans. (Id.) One of the USPS employees involved in the drill down conferences was Postmaster Edward Roggenkamp, who is a white, Caucasian, Catholic, American male born in 1955. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 46.) During the drill down conferences, Roggenkamp and the area manager would ask Plaintiff to account for the employees that Plaintiff supervised. (Id. ¶ 8.) They would also ask Plaintiff about the performance of the Forest Hills station. (Id. ¶ 9.) Among other things, Plaintiff would report on steps he took to correct any deficiencies at the station, as well as carrier and clerical operations. (Id. ¶ 10.) During the drill down conferences, no one mentioned or referred to Plaintiff's race, color, age, gender, religion, or national origin. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         On June 15, 2011, Plaintiff attended a “Function 4 staff meeting” with Postmaster Roggenkamp and other managers of customer services to review clerical staffing profiles for USPS operations. (Id. ¶ 12.) Several days before the Function 4 staff meeting, Plaintiff asked Stremel to excuse him from the meeting because Plaintiff would not have certain necessary data prepared in time. (Id. ¶ 13.) Stremel declined to excuse Plaintiff from the meeting because Roggenkamp, not Stremel, had scheduled it. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff subsequently provided Roggenkamp with handwritten work product in response to Roggenkamp's request for data. (Id. ¶ 15.) At his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he believed that Roggenkamp told Jennifer Leung, another manager of customer services, that Plaintiff's work product was “crap.” (Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff further testified that he did not believe that Roggenkamp made any reference to Plaintiff's race, color, age, gender, religion, or national origin in connection with this criticism. (Id. ¶ 17.)

         Plaintiff subsequently met with Stremel and Roggenkamp on July 8, 2011, at which time Roggenkamp expressed a number of concerns regarding Plaintiff's performance during his temporary detail at the Forest Hills station. (Id. ¶ 19.) Roggenkamp noted that Plaintiff had permitted a lower-level employee to stand in for Plaintiff as a representative of USPS management at a meeting with the National Association of Letter Carriers. (Id. ¶ 20.) In addition, Roggenkamp noted that Plaintiff did not thoroughly investigate an allegation of assault by another USPS employee. (Id. ¶ 21.) Further, Roggenkamp stated that he was concerned about Plaintiff's representation that he would personally conduct surveillance of a USPS employee who was on extended sick leave but was alleged to be working a second job. (Id. ¶ 22.) Roggenkamp also noted that Plaintiff had failed to follow a Local Memorandum of Understanding for posting holiday schedules, which could have resulted in monetary losses. (Id. ¶ 23.) Roggenkamp also noted his concern that letter carriers at the Forest Hills station had made complaints of a hostile work environment caused by management, which included Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 24.) Union representatives for those letter carriers had informed Roggenkamp that there was a risk for workplace violence at the Forest Hills station. (Id. ¶ 25.) Based on these various concerns, on July 8, 2011, Plaintiff was returned to his regular assignment at the Middle Village station with his previous pay grade level of EAS-20 four months earlier than scheduled. (Id. ¶ 26.)

         II. Plaintiff's Denial of a Promotion to the Fresh Meadows Station

         USPS has specific policies that govern how applicants are selected for particular jobs. USPS grants positions through competitive and non-competitive processes. (Singh Decl. Ex. T, at 4-5, ECF No. 36-1.) Pursuant to USPS policy, competitive procedures are not required when an employee voluntarily accepts a position at a lower level pursuant to the noncompetitive process. (Id. at 4.) USPS policy also states that a noncompetitive applicant may be selected at any point before or during the competitive process. (Id. at 5.) When a position is not filled through noncompetitive procedures, then it is filled competitively. (Id.)

         On June 19, 2011, Plaintiff applied through a competitive procedure to be the Manager of Customer Services at the Fresh Meadows USPS station, at a pay grade level of EAS-21. (Defs.' 56.1 Statement ¶ 18.) USPS ultimately gave the position to Robert Botman on a noncompetitive basis. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28.) At the time, Botman was serving as Manager of Customer Services at the Corona/Elmhurst station. (Id. ¶ 27.) The Fresh Meadows position was a downgrade for Botman, who had previously received a pay grade level of EAS-22 at Corona/Elmhurst. (See id.)

         III. USPS Investigates Complaints at the Forest Hills Station

         On August 3, 2011, at Roggenkamp's request and in response to employee complaints of a hostile work environment, Mary McGovern and Jose Diaz conducted interviews of the Forest Hills station's employees. (Id. ¶ 30.) McGovern and Diaz asked the employees if they were experiencing issues of any kind with their management. (Id. ¶ 31.) When these interviews concluded, USPS did not take any employment action against Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 32.)[2]

         IV. Plaintiff Requests a Temporary Modification in his Schedule

         In August 2011, Plaintiff requested a modification of his schedule so that he could arrive at work and leave work earlier than scheduled from August 8, 2011, until August 12, 2011. (Id. ¶ 33.) Stremel denied the request and informed Plaintiff that he needed certain non-exempt salaried employees like Plaintiff to be present during the later hours of the day. (Id. ¶ 34; Singh Decl. Ex. U., at 93:25-94:4, ECF No. 36-1.)

         V. USPS Denies Plaintiff's Request to have Rudy Perez Assigned Acting Supervisor

         At some point in the summer of 2011, Plaintiff returned to his letter carrier assignment from an acting supervisor detail. (Defs.' 56.1 Statement ¶ 37.) Plaintiff requested that Stremel assign Rudy Perez to be the new acting supervisor. (Id. ΒΆ 40.) Instead, Stremel offered ...


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