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ISRAEL v. POTTER

March 19, 2004.

Isaiah Israel, Plaintiff
v.
John E. Potter, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES HOLDERMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On May 1, 2003, plaintiff Isaiah Israel ("Israel") filed a second amended complaint, which this court accepted on May 2, 2003, against defendant John E. Potter ("Potter"), Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), alleging race discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), and retaliation, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). On January 8, 2004, Potter moved to dismiss Israel's complaint or alternatively for summary judgment. Because it appears the parties have done so and because this court has considered the material submitted and has not restricted its review to the face of the complaint, this court will address Potter's motion exclusively as one for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Having considered this matter fully, for the reasons stated herein, Potter's motion for summary judgment is granted. Page 2

STATEMENT OF FACTS*fn1

  Viewing all facts in the light most favorable to Israel and construing all ambiguities in his favor, Israel, an African American male, worked as a clerk with the USPS from 1990 until he retired in December 2001. In 1993, Israel filed an administrative complaint alleging discrimination on the part of his supervisor Kevin Haywood ("Haywood"), an African American, for allegedly removing Page 3 Israel's workplace stool, Israel did not pursue this administrative complaint. In May 1997, Israel filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming that race discrimination was the reason Jasper Grimaudo ("Grimaudo") issued Israel a seven-day suspension for failing to maintain a regular work schedule. *fn2 Israel also filed another Page 4 administrative complaint against Grimaudo in December 1998 claiming that Grimaudo ordered Israel to move his workplace stool.

  In August 1999, Israel filed further administrative claims against Haywood and Grimaudo. These complaints were consolidated and proceeded to a hearing before EEOC administrative law judge ("ALJ") Winston Jackson on August 30, 2002. The hearing was restricted to seven incidents, which will be discussed below. ALJ Jackson found that Israel was neither discriminated against nor retaliated against.

  On August 19, 1999, Israel's supervisor Jesse Parham ("Parham"), an African American, ordered Israel to report to work at Building 10 at the Chicago Bulk Mail Facility. Israel was not the only USPS employee ordered to report to work at Building 10, and the USPS routinely assigned employees to work at that location, based on personnel requirements. However, on that date, Israel questioned *fn3 Parham's order. Israel believed that employees with less seniority than him should have been required to report to Building 10 instead of him. United States Postal Standards of Conduct require a USPS employee to follow a supervisor's order; if the employee questions or disagrees with the order, the employee must grieve the order to his or her union at a later time. Although Israel questioned the order from Parham, and presumably violated USPS rules by doing so, he was only threatened with disciplinary action and not actually disciplined. In addition, Israel had not filed an administrative complaint against Parham prior to August 1999.

  On August 25, 1999, supervisor Haywood ordered Israel to report to work at Building 10. Israel again questioned this assignment order. Consequently, Israel was placed on emergency off-duty Page 5 (non-pay) status. However, the discipline was later rescinded through the union grievance process, and Israel received back pay for the time he was on emergency status.

  Later, in September 1999, Haywood again ordered Israel to report to work at Building 10. Israel once again questioned this order. On October 2, 1999, Israel's immediate supervisor, Chris Stubblefield ("Stubblefield"), an African American male, issued Israel a letter of warning for Israel's failure to report to work as ordered by Haywood. Israel grieved this disciplinary letter to the union, but the discipline was upheld.

  In February 2000, supervisor Zelma Skillom ("Skillom"), an African American female, issued Israel a seven-day suspension for taking unauthorized 15-minute breaks during every hour of his work shift. Israel's union contract only allowed him two 15-minute rest breaks and a half-hour lunch period during his work shift.*fn4 Israel claims that he was told by William Walker ("Walker"), who was informed by labor relations specialist Arthur Reed ("Reed"), that employees could take the 15-minutes rest periods every hour to keep employees from injuring themselves. Israel admits that Page 6 he never filed an administrative complaint against Skillom prior to February 2000. After grieving the suspension to his union, Israel's suspension was upheld.

  In January 2001, Israel accepted a light duty assignment with the USPS. On February 8, 2001,*fn5 Israel stopped coming to work. On March 12, 2001, Israel received a letter from supervisor Eugene Stancil ("Stancil") asking Israel to explain his absences from work since February 8, 2001. This letter also advised Israel that he would be terminated due to being AWOL unless he submitted appropriate medical information or immediately reported back to work. Prior to this letter, Israel had not filed an administrative complaint against Stancil. Later in 2001, Israel took disability retirement and was not terminated.

  Finally, Israel claims that he was denied continuation of pay ("COP") payments for a period of time after January 1, 2001.*fn6 He claims he was denied such benefits as a result of Celestine Johnson's ("Johnson"), an African American female, retaliation against Israel for filing an EEOC claim against her. However, Israel had not filed an EEOC claim against Johnson prior to January 1, 2001.

  STANDARD OF REVIEW

  Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter Page 7 of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the evidence of the nonmovant must be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). This court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. A party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue, however, may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, this court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment; the nonmoving party must identify with reasonable particularity the evidence upon which that party relies. Johnson ...


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