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Allen v. Potter

September 13, 2007

LINDA S. ALLEN PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDade United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 41], accompanying Memorandum [Doc. 42] and Statement of Facts [Doc. 43] all filed on January 16, 2007. Plaintiff filed a Response [Doc. 45] and an accompanying Memorandum [Doc. 46] on February 16, 2007. Lastly, Defendant filed a Memorandum in Reply [Doc. 47] on March 5, 2007. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Post office employees often like to work overtime -- they can get paid up to double their hourly rate. Plaintiff, Linda Allen, is an African American and has brought suit alleging that she was denied overtime by the United States Postal Service because she is an African American and because she had previously complained of discrimination. Specifically, she alleges that she was denied overtime on two dates: May 16, 1998 and June 20, 1998.*fn1

There were five employees in Plaintiff's working group who requested overtime in the Peoria post office and, under the post office policy, they were awarded overtime based upon seniority. They each signed an Overtime Desired List ("OTDL") and were eligible for overtime. In order of seniority, the employees were Plaintiff, Joe Leonard, Eldon Leezer, Terri Baxter, and Pat Downs. [Doc. 46 at 12.]

Overtime was dispensed on a rotational basis. Accordingly, Plaintiff received the first overtime opportunity, then Leonard, Leezer, Baxter and finally, Downs. After Downs had an opportunity for overtime, the list started back at the beginning and Plaintiff could get a second opportunity for overtime. [Doc. 46 at 12.] However, there were several exceptions to this standard policy. First, if someone is given the opportunity to work overtime and they decline then they are passed over and not given an opportunity to work overtime until their name comes around again on the list. Next, if an employee is working or scheduled to work when an overtime is needed, then that person is passed over and an overtime is offered to the next person on the list. [Doc. 46 at 12.] Furthermore, an employee can also receive unscheduled overtime. For instance, if a need for overtime arises and was not planned, the overtime can be offered to an employee who is not on the OTDL. Finally, if an employee was more than five minutes late clocking out, then they forfeit their next overtime opportunity.*fn2

A. MAY 16, 1998

On Friday, May 8th, 1998, Plaintiff worked overtime. [Doc. 42 at 14; Doc. 46 at 13.] On Wednesday, May 13th, the postal manager, Jerry Redshaw, prepared the overtime schedule for the next week. The next available shift that required overtime was May 16th, 1998. Since no employee had worked overtime since the previous Friday, Redshaw scheduled Leonard, the next in line, for overtime on May 16th.

When Leezer was finishing his shift that Wednesday, the post office needed someone to work overtime and he was the only person around. As a result, on May 13th Leezer worked overtime for approximately an hour. Then on May 15th, under the same circumstances, Leezer again worked overtime. According to Defendant, neither of these shifts affected the rotation because these were unscheduled overtimes. As a result, on May 16th, Leonard worked the shift that he was assigned to work.

Plaintiff, on the other hand, alleges that she was entitled to work overtime on May 16th, 1998. According to Plaintiff, after she was offered overtime on May 8th and she accepted, the same overtime shift was then offered to the next two people available -- Leonard and Baxter and they declined (Leezer, who was between Leonard and Baxter on the list, was on his regular shift on May 8th, so he was not eligible for the shift). As a result all three had lost an opportunity to work overtime and should have been passed over. When May 16th came around, it was Down's turn for overtime. However, according to Plaintiff, the overtime shift on May 16th occurred during Down's scheduled work hours, so the overtime should have been offered to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff emphasizes two points regarding the May 8th incident. First, Plaintiff points out that she had a conversation with Redshaw before the 16th in which she pointed out his mistake. Also, Plaintiff emphasizes that Defendant did not keep a list of overtime worked and overtime rejected. In particular, Plaintiff points out that the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between the Post Office and the American Postal Workers Union requires Defendant to keep such a list.

B. JUNE 20, 1998

On June 20th, Leonard again worked an overtime shift. According to Plaintiff, she was also entitled to work the scheduled overtime for June 20th. She alleges that she was originally scheduled to work overtime on the 20th. However, Redshaw created a new Post Office policy that stated that if a person was late clocking out then they lost their next opportunity to work overtime. So, for example, if Plaintiff was more than five minutes late clocking out, then that would count as her overtime and she would lose her next chance to work overtime.

In this case, there is no dispute that such a policy was in place. And, there is no dispute that Plaintiff was late clocking out on June 16th, 1998, and as a result, was ...


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