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LABOY v. O'NEILL

July 18, 2001

DENNIS LABOY, PLAINTIFF,
V.
PAUL H. O'NEILL, SECRETARY, U.S. DEP'T OF TREASURY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Granting the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

I. INTRODUCTION

Dennis Laboy brings this suit against his employer, the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing ("BEP"). Mr. Laboy, a uniformed BEP police officer, was terminated from his position in 1998. He challenges his termination on the grounds that it was discriminatory and retaliatory, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16 ("Title VII"). Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his race (Hispanic) and retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity.

Before filing suit in this court, the plaintiff challenged his termination before the Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB"). After a full hearing, the plaintiff was reinstated to his position as a uniformed BEP police officer and recovered some of his out-of-pocket losses, but did not prevail on his Title VII claims. In June 1999, the plaintiff filed suit in this Court seeking de novo review of the MSPB's decision on his Title VII claims. He alleges that as a result of the defendant's actions, he suffers from severe medical, emotional, and financial distress, and is entitled to compensatory damages under Title VII.

This matter now comes before the court on the defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the defendant's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

Dennis Laboy, a Hispanic man of Puerto Rican ancestry, was hired by the BEP as a uniformed police officer in 1995. See Pl.'s First Am. Compl. ("Compl.") at 2. The plaintiff, a member of the BEP bike patrol, was responsible for patrolling a designated area around BEP facilities on his bicycle. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 2. He worked in this position from 1995 until his termination in June 1998. See Compl. at 2. The plaintiff was permanently reinstated to the bike patrol in May 1999, and continues to work in this capacity to date. See id.

In his amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges that BEP subjected him to "a constant and regular series of intentional and insulting, hurtful, and damaging acts" for a period of four years before his removal. See Compl. at 3. Specifically, he alleges that BEP management and supervisory employees in the Office of Security engaged in racially motivated acts against him. See id. For example, shortly after the plaintiff was hired, one of his supervisors, Lt. Thomas Garcia, asked him to serve as a witness for another Hispanic officer who had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") complaint of race discrimination. See Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Opp'n") at 5-6. The plaintiff agreed and filed an affidavit claiming that he had experienced "significant resistance to his application for employment" when he applied for a position on the force. See id. The plaintiff attributed this resistance to race discrimination. See id.

One year later, in 1997, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEO office after the BEP rejected his medical shaving profile.*fn1 See id. at 7. In his complaint, he alleged that BEP treated him differently than other non-Hispanic police officers who requested the same exemption. See id. Later that year, the plaintiff complained to BEP management about an officer who he claimed was verbally abusing him. BEP responded by proposing to suspend the plaintiff for insubordination. See id. at 8. The plaintiff contacted the EEO office in response to this proposal, and BEP subsequently reduced the punishment to a reprimand. Over the next several months, the plaintiff continued to complain to the EEO office about allegedly discriminatory actions taken against him. Commander Lindsey received notification every time the plaintiff filed an EEO complaint. See Opp'n at 8.

The events giving rise to this litigation occurred on February 13, 1998, when the plaintiff and his partner, Carl Smith, an African-American BEP officer, entered Phillips Restaurant while on duty. See Opp'n at 9. Several BEP employees happened to be at Phillips Restaurant that day and observed the two officers. Steven Elgin, one of the BEP employees present at the bar, telephoned the police officers' supervisor, Deputy Inspector Snowden, because he was concerned about "the appearance of armed, uniformed BEP police officers drinking at a public bar." See Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. Inspector Snowden called the plaintiff and his partner back to the BEP and lectured the two about "the perception of wrong doing." See id. Inspector Snowden determined that the plaintiff and Officer Smith had "good attitudes" and were "honest with him," and that no further action was necessary. See Opp'n at 9-10.

The following Monday, two officers told Commander Lindsey what had happened at the bar. See Def.'s Reply in Support of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Reply") at 16. Unable to reach Inspector Snowden by phone, Commander Lindsey ordered an official investigation into "Conduct Unbecoming a Police Officer" and assigned Silas Oglesby to conduct the investigation. See id; Opp'n at 10. In a sworn statement, the plaintiff attested that he and Officer Smith had not been drinking at the bar together, had only water to drink, had not left their bikes unattended, and were only in the restaurant for about three to five minutes. See Def.'s Statement of Material Facts to Which There is No Genuine Dispute ("Def.'s Statement") ¶ 12.

After interviewing the witnesses present at Phillips Restaurant that night, investigators found several discrepancies between the statements of the witnesses and those of the plaintiff and Officer Smith, including:

(1) whether plaintiff and his partner were drinking against the bar; (2) whether plaintiff and his partner left their police bikes unattended; (3) what beverages they were drinking*fn2; (4) whether either plaintiff or his partner used the phone while at the bar; and (5) the amount of time that plaintiff and his partner were in the bar.

Mot. for Summ. J. at 5. Based on these discrepancies, Mr. Oglesby determined that the plaintiff and Officer Smith had lied in their sworn statements.*fn3 See Def.'s Statement ¶ 13.

At the conclusion of Mr. Oglesby's investigation, Chief Stephens reviewed the Report of Investigation, met with the plaintiff and his representative and considered the plaintiff's written response to the Notice of Proposed Removal. See id. ¶¶ 19-24. Chief Stephens also "consulted a schematic which he had prepared that made a side-by-side comparison between the statements of the plaintiff and the statements of the witnesses at Phillips' bar . . . [and] consulted both with Human Resources and BEP's Office of General Counsel to ensure that plaintiffs penalty comported with BEP's Table of ...


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