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HAZWARD v. RUNYON

August 13, 1998

JOHNSON HAZWARD, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MARVIN RUNYON, JR., POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: URBINA

MEMORANDUM OPINION

 Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

 I. Introduction

 Plaintiff Johnson Hazward, Jr., a male Postal Police Officer, filed a two-count complaint against defendant Marvin Runyon, Postmaster General of the United States, alleging (1) sex discrimination and (2) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1994). This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The defendant contends that the plaintiff failed to make out a prima facie case of sex discrimination and retaliation. The defendant further contends that even if the plaintiff established his prima facie case, he could not prove that the defendant's explanations of its actions were pretexts for illegal discrimination. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the relevant law, the court grants the defendant's motion for summary judgment on both counts.

 II. Background

 The plaintiff initiated this civil action on August 9, 1995, alleging that the defendant violated the plaintiff's rights under Title VII. The first allegedly discriminatory act occurred on March 30, 1993, when the plaintiff's immediate supervisor, Sergeant Robert Blair, with Sergeant Anthony Reed in attendance, summoned the plaintiff to a meeting. At this meeting, Sergeant Blair informed the plaintiff that a female postal employee, had made a verbal complaint, accusing the plaintiff of harassing her. Outraged, the plaintiff denied this accusation and requested that Sergeant Blair (1) provide him with a written statement of her complaint; (2) allow him to use to take notes of the meeting; and (3) allow him the right to leave the meeting. *fn1" Sergeant Blair refused these requests. The plaintiff contends that Sergeant Blair's refusals constituted sex discrimination because female employees were not subjected to the same treatment under similar circumstances.

 In response, the plaintiff filed an informal EEO Request for Counseling on April 16, 1993. On June 24, 1993, the plaintiff filed a formal EEO Complaint of Discrimination, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rejected on or about June 10, 1995. *fn2" The plaintiff alleges that as a consequence of filing the EEO request for counseling and complaint of discrimination, Lieutenant Crawley, Sergeant Blair's supervisor, retaliated by (1) requiring the plaintiff to report for a Fitness for Duty exam on June 10, 1993; (2) requiring the plaintiff to provide the defendant with medical verification appointment forms before taking sick leave on May 4, 1993; and (3) calling his physician's offices in May and June 1993 to inquire about the availability of medical forms to document the plaintiff's sick leave.

 The second allegedly discriminatory act occurred over a year later, on June 3, 1994, when Sergeant Blair again summoned the plaintiff to his office. Another female Postal Service employee had complained that the plaintiff had slapped her car to get her attention as she entered the parking garage. Sergeant Blair told the plaintiff about the complaint. The plaintiff requested (1) the complaint to be presented to him in writing; (2) the identity of the complainant; (3) a union representative to witness the rest of the meeting; (4) or alternatively to be dismissed from the meeting. Sergeant Blair refused the individual requests, but dismissed the plaintiff from the meeting. After this meeting, the plaintiff again filed a formal EEO Complaint of Discrimination. *fn3"

 III. Standard of Review

 Rule 56 provides that "summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions of 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Rule 56 also mandates summary judgment if a party fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). In such a situation, there is no genuine issue of material fact since there is a failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case that renders all other facts immaterial. See id. at 322-323. The moving party meets its burden if it illustrates that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. See id. at 325. The party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not rely on mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The nonmovant is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts of the case. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986).

 The court must accept evidence provided by nonmovants as true, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in their favor. See 477 U.S. at 249. If a reasonable fact finder could infer discrimination based on the evidence submitted, then summary judgment is inappropriate. See Hayes v. Shalala, 902 F. Supp. 259, 264 (D.D.C. 1995). However, "neither the nonmovant's conjecture and surmise nor mere conclusory allegations of discrimination, without more are sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Carney v. American University, 960 F. Supp. 436, 439 (D.D.C. 1997) (quoting Grigsby v. Reynolds Metals Co., 821 F.2d 590, 597 (11th Cir. 1987) (quotation marks omitted).

 IV. Discussion

 A. Count I: Sex Discrimination

 The plaintiff alleges that the defendant sexually discriminated against him when it refused to grant the plaintiff the right to be confronted by written complaints, the right to take notes, and the right to be represented by counsel at the meetings of March 30, 1993 and June 3, 1994. The plaintiff alleges that these refusals violated the National Agreement between the plaintiff's union and the Post Office governing disciplinary procedures. The plaintiff argues that female employees are routinely granted these rights. The defendant responds that it did not violate its own regulations, but even if it did, the plaintiff has ...


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