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Lynch v. Brennan

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 2, 2017

MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General; U.S. POSTAL SERVICE, Defendants.

          YaVettee Lynch Plaintiff Pro Se.

          Anthony J. Sun Assistant United States Attorney New York, New York Counsel for Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          CATHY SEIBEL, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff YaVettee Lynch asserts claims for retaliation at her workplace. Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant Megan J. Brennan.[1] (Doc. 54.) For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts[2]

         1. Background

         Plaintiff is a tools and parts clerk for the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) at a vehicle maintenance facility in White Plains, New York. (56.1 Stmt. ¶ 26; Doc. 7 (“Answer”) ¶ 18.) Plaintiff was the only female who worked her shift, which was called “Tour Three” and lasted from 2:00 pm to 10:30 pm. (Doc. 67 Ex. 6 (“P's Dep.”) at 38, 40.) At all relevant times Plaintiff's supervisor was David Cox and her manager was Ismael Velez. (Compl. ¶ 5; P's Dep. at 42.)

         As a tools and parts clerk, Plaintiff's job responsibilities included procuring parts requested by mechanics, supervisors, and other post office employees. (P's Dep. at 103-04.) She ordered the parts using two different USPS credit cards. (Id. at 104.) As part of using USPS credit cards, she was required to reconcile her bank statements by a certain deadline each month, (see Id. at 107-08), and her purchases were subject to various supervisors' approval, (see Id. at 111).

         2. Plaintiff's Initial EEO Activity

         On March 21, 2014, Plaintiff made a request for pre-complaint counseling with USPS's Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) office, which case was designated 4B-105-0011-14 (“Case 11”). (Sun Decl. Ex. B.) In Case 11, Plaintiff alleged that: (1) Cox told her he “was sending another employee to sign off on [her] credit card” usage; (2) he did not pay Plaintiff correctly off and on for over six months; (3) on March 12, 2014, he threatened to stop Plaintiff from achieving a “higher level;” and (4) Cox failed to teach Plaintiff how to use the “system.” (Id. Ex. B at 1-2.)[3] Following mediation, Plaintiff, Cox, and Velez entered into an agreement on June 11, 2014 settling “all issues arising out of the subject matter” of Case 11. (Id. Ex. C at 1.)

         3. Alleged Retaliation & Subsequent EEO Activity

         Plaintiff testified that in May 2014, Arlene McDuffie, the shop steward at the vehicle maintenance facility where Plaintiff worked, (see P's Dep. at 45; Compl. ¶¶ 14, 17), filed a report that Plaintiff had tried to run McDuffie over with a car, (P's Dep. at 64; Compl. ¶ 18). McDuffie's claim was investigated, and Plaintiff was interviewed by inspectors for “a few minutes or half an hour, ” (P's Dep. at 66), after which the inspectors concluded that Plaintiff had been driving “the correct way, ” (id. at 65), and Velez told the inspectors that Plaintiff was “all right, ” (id. at 66). Plaintiff was not disciplined, terminated, or arrested as a result of this incident. (See Id. at 138, 144-45.)

         Plaintiff claims that in July 2014, Cox interfered with her work by refusing to preapprove certain of her credit card purchases, (see Compl. ¶ 10; P's Dep. at 119-21), and assigning Plaintiff certain tasks, then assigning them to a coworker of Plaintiff's, and complaining to Velez that Plaintiff was derelict in her duties, (see Compl. ¶ 10; P's Dep. at 121-23).[4]

         According to Plaintiff, on August 19, 2014, Cox cornered Plaintiff and complained about her failure to properly reconcile her USPS credit card statements. (See Compl. ¶ 11; Sun Decl. Ex. F at 1-2.) At some point during this encounter, Cox shook his finger in Plaintiff's face, (Compl. ¶ 11), which Plaintiff contends was somehow connected to Cox's direction that she not participate in unspecified activities because Plaintiff was being investigated for McDuffie's May 2014 complaint, (P's Dep. at 129).

         On August 20, 2014, Plaintiff made another request for pre-complaint counseling with the EEO office, which case was designated 4B-105-0023-14 (“Case 23”). (Sun Decl. Ex. F.) In Case 23, Plaintiff alleged harassment and retaliation for her previous EEO complaint, including: (1) Cox waited until Plaintiff was alone in the stockroom to discuss her invoices and credit card statements; (2) Cox asked her why she thought she could “make up [her] own hours to work;” (3) Plaintiff worked fifty minutes past the end of her shift but received “no overtime;” (4) Cox shook his finger in Plaintiff's face; (5) Cox was working with McDuffie “again;” (6) Cox kept copies of invoices Plaintiff signed when parts came in; (7) a male coworker was leaving the facility in his personal car while on the clock, which is prohibited; and (8) McDuffie copies Plaintiff's work and gives it to Plaintiff's supervisor. (Id. Ex. F at 1-2, 4.)[5]

         On October 3, 2014, Cox called Plaintiff into his office in an attempt to administer a pre-disciplinary interview (“PDI”). (Compl. ¶ 14.) Cox directed that McDuffie, in her capacity as shop steward, (see P's Dep. at 136-37), represent Plaintiff during the PDI, (Compl. ¶ 14). Plaintiff refused to be represented by McDuffie given their past interactions, of which Plaintiff contends Cox was aware. (See Id. ΒΆΒΆ 14, 19.) Plaintiff ...

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