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Torrence S. Williams v. Patrick R. Donahoe

November 27, 2012

TORRENCE S. WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PATRICK R. DONAHOE, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Williams sued the United States Postal Service ("USPS") for race discrimination and retaliation. The USPS moves for summary judgment on all claims. For the reasons stated below, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. Facts

Before detailing the facts of the case, the Court notes that Williams failed to fully comply with Local Rule 56.1. While the defendant sent Williams the notice to pro se litigants prescribed by Local Rule 56.2, he failed to properly respond to the defendant's statement of material facts. Williams denies certain statements of fact but sometimes fails to cite to the record or cites generally to various exhibits and attachments without identifying a specific page number. Moreover, some of Williams' citations to the record simply do not support the denial. The Court's job was also made more difficult by the fact that not all of the exhibits that Williams submitted in support of his denials or additional statements of fact are marked, those that are marked are in random order with different numbering systems, and he provides no index of the exhibits he filed. The Court appreciates that Williams is proceeding pro se. Nevertheless, pro se litigants must abide by the same rules as litigants who are represented by counsel. Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2008) (pro se litigants are not "excused from compliance with procedural rules").

Accordingly, to the extent that any of Williams' denials do not contain a citation to the record, the citation does not support the denial, or the Court was simply unable to locate the exhibit that Williams refers to, those statements of fact by the defendant have been deemed admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) ("All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party."); see also U.S. v. 5443 Suffield Terrace, 607 F.3d 504, 510 (7th Cir. 2010) ("At summary judgment . . . saying so doesn't make it so; summary judgment may only be defeated by pointing to admissible evidence in the summary judgment record that creates a genuine issue of material fact, and it [is] not the district court's job to sift through the record and make [the party's] case for him.").

Data Collection Technician Positions

Williams, who is African American, began working for the USPS as a full-time laborer custodian at the Airport Mail Center O'Hare ("AMC O'Hare") facility on December 24, 2005. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Dkt. # 69, ¶ 1.) A January 2010 notice by the USPS solicited applications for three available openings for the position of data collection technician. (Id. ¶ 2.) Each position had a unique job number and applicants were required to complete a PS Form 991, Application for Promotion or Assignment. (Id. ¶ 4.) Valitta Hunter and Mamie Averhart, both African-American females, were responsible for selecting applicants for the data collection technician positions. (Id. ¶ 5.) Of the eighteen data collection technicians who report to Hunter, fourteen are black, three are Hispanic, and one is Asian American. (Id. ¶ 6.) Hunter and Averhart made their selections based on a review of the application, attendance history, accident history, and Employee Key Indicator Report ("Employee Report") for each applicant. (Id. ¶ 7.) While Williams submitted an application, it did not specify which vacancy he was seeking and provided incomplete reference information. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) In addition, Williams' Employee Report showed that, between February 1, 2005 and February 4, 2010, he was late to work 31 times, he was issued a warning for failure to maintain regular attendance, and he was suspended 7 days for failure to follow instructions and 14 days for failure to maintain regular attendance. (Id. ¶ 10.) Hunter and Averhart did not select Williams for the data collection technician positions because he did not specify a job identification number on his application, his qualifications were not as strong as the other applicants, he provided incomplete reference information on his application, and his Employee Report indicated that he had received prior disciplinary action for attendance and failure to follow instructions. (Id. ¶ 11.) Hunter and Averhart attest that race was not a factor in their decision not to hire Williams. (Id. ¶ 12.) Williams was one of 14 applicants for the data collection technician positions who was not selected. (Id. ¶ 13.)

Noel Garcia and Edward Sanchez were selected for two of the positions and the third opening was not filled at that time. (Id. ¶ 15.) Hunter and Averhart chose Sanchez and Garcia because they specified the job identification number, their qualifications were strong, they provided complete reference information and their Employee Reports showed no discipline for attendance or work performance. (Id. ¶ 17.) In addition, their applications reflected significant experience in tasks related to the data collection technician position. (Id.) When the third unfilled position was re-posted, Williams applied but again, no one was selected for the position. (Id. ¶¶ 22-24.)

Reassignment

On June 23, 2010, the USPS sent a letter to employees at the AMC O'Hare facility, including Williams, advising them of the upcoming closing of the facility and the possibility of an involuntary reassignment. (Id. ¶ 27.) In response to the letter, Williams requested various laborer custodial positions in and around Chicago. (Id. ¶ 28.) On August 9, 2010, Williams was notified that he was reassigned to the Kansas City, Missouri Processing & Distribution Center ("Kansas City P&DC") as a full-time laborer custodian effective September 11, 2010. (Id. ¶ 29.)

Reassignments were based on seniority. (Id. ¶ 33.)*fn1 Eighteen laborer custodians from the AMC O'Hare facility who were reassigned in and around Chicago had more seniority in terms of years of service than Williams. (Id. ¶¶ 36, 37.) On August 24, 2010, Williams wrote a letter to Gloria Tyson, District Manager, stating that he believed that the reassignment discriminated against veterans and that he would not relocate to Kansas City. (Id. ¶ 39.) Tyson responded in a September 20, 2010 letter in which she indicated that the reassignments were based on the language of the collective bargaining agreement, postal rules and regulations and applicable laws including the Veterans Preference Act. (Id. ¶ 40.)

Effective September 11, 2010, Williams was reassigned to the Kansas City PD&C as a full-time laborer custodian (Id. ¶ 41.) Having not reported to work at the Kansas City PD&C, Williams was instructed in a September 30, 2010 letter to report to work or submit satisfactory documentation explaining his failure to report for duty. (Id. ¶ 42.) In an October 7, 2010 letter, Williams wrote to the human resources department at the Kansas City facility that he was not accepting the "involuntary reassignment." (Id. ¶ 43.) Williams never reported to work in Kansas City. (Id. ¶ 44.)

On March 16, 2010, Williams filled out a form entitled "Information for Pre-Complaint Counseling" with the Equal Employment Investigative Services Office of the USPS alleging discrimination based on race and sex as well as his veteran status with respect to his not being selected for the data collection technician positions. (Id. ¶ 49.) On May 14, 2010, Williams was issued a Notice of Right to File Individual Complaint. (Id. ¶ 50.) In his formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC, received on June 1, 2010, Williams checked the boxes for race, sex and retaliation. (Id. ¶ 51.) On June 7, 2010, the EEO office of the USPS issued a partial acceptance/partial dismissal of Williams' EEO complaint, accepting the allegation of race and sex discrimination with respect to one of the data collection technician positions, but dismissing the other because a selection was not made for that position. (Id. ¶ 53.) A footnote in the letter also indicated that because Williams had failed to support his claim of retaliation in his charge, it was not being investigated. (Id. ¶ 54.)

On January 13, 2011, the administrative law judge ("ALJ") who heard Williams' race and sex discrimination complaint granted the USPS' motion for summary disposition and dismissed Williams' complaint with prejudice. (Id. ΒΆ 55.) The EEO office of the USPS issued a Notice of Final Action on May 25, 2010, implementing the decision of the ALJ and notifying Williams of his right to appeal to the director of the EEOC or file a civil action in ...


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