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RICHARD v. BELL ATLANTIC CORP.

September 14, 2001

IRIS RICHARD ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BELL ATLANTIC CORP. ET AL., DEFENDANTS. RENEE ARRINGTON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS, V. BELL ATLANTIC CORP. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON ALL CLAIMS OF PLAINTIFF CAROLYN GREEN

I. INTRODUCTION

These race-discrimination and retaliation cases began with 132 current and former employees of Bell Atlantic Corp. (now Verizon) suing their employer and its subsidiaries (collectively, "the defendants" or "Bell Atlantic") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Although the court has not consolidated these two cases, they have been mediated together and briefed together because of the similarity in claims, counsel, and parties.*fn1 Through the diligence and persistence of the parties, the lawyers, and alternative dispute resolution, only three plaintiffs remain in the case.

The defendants have filed motions for summary judgment against all three remaining plaintiffs. In this case, the defendants move for summary judgment on all claims of Carolyn Green ("the plaintiff" or "Ms. Green"). For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

Carolyn Green has worked for Bell Atlantic-Maryland, Inc. ("Bell Atlantic") from October 26, 1977 until the present. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. She began as a directory assistance operator, received a promotion to customer service representative in 1979, and remained in that position until 1986, when she received a promotion to Frame Attendant. See id. On February 25, 1990, Ms. Green received a promotion to Central Office Technician ("COT"), and on June 29, 1997, she received a promotion to Engineering Assistant. See id. On December 1, 1999, the company promoted her to management (Specialist), where she currently remains. See id.

In April 1991, the company assigned Ms. Green, then a COT, to the Voice Mail crew, which maintains and monitors the company's voice-mail system. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. In February 1996, Bell Atlantic manager Peter Bogdan made the decision to reassign Ms. Green from the Voice Mail crew to the Electronic Switching Team ("5ESS team"). See id. at 4. The parties offer different reasons from Mr. Bogdan's decision. The plaintiff charges that "unlike similarly situated white associates in Ms. Green's workgroup, she was not asked whether or not she would voluntarily accept reassignment to the electronic switching system team. . . ." See Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts As to Which There Are Genuine Disputes ("Pl.'s Statement") at 1.

The defendants counter that one technician needed to be reassigned because there was a sufficient amount of work to keep all the voice-mail technicians busy while the 5ESS team needed more workers to meet its demands. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 4. Bell Atlantic explains that when reassigning associates, Mr. Bogdan normally investigates whether one employee has job knowledge "that would make that associate a logical choice for reassignment." See id. If no employee fits this description, Mr. Bogdan asks for volunteers. See id. If no employee volunteers, he then selects the crew member with the least seniority at Bell Atlantic. See id. In this case, the company states that no technician had specialized job knowledge, nobody volunteered for the reassignment, and Mr. Bogdan simply selected Ms. Green because she had the least tenure at Bell Atlantic. See id. at 4-5. The company says "Green's reassignment did not affect her title, pay or benefits." Id. at 5.

The defendant denies all the allegations. In terms of Ms. Green's attempts to obtain a promotion, the company states that before it eliminated the Business Management Abilities Test ("BMAT") in May 1998, Ms. Green had taken the test several times and never earned a qualifying score. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 5. The company notes that it promoted Ms. Green to the management position of Specialist on December 1, 1999. See id. The company also points out that of the "103 positions which Green sought that were filled by someone other than Green, 27% of the placements were African-American." See id.

The defendants now move for summary judgment on all the claims of Ms. Green.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when "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 of law." FED. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C.Cir. 1995). To determine what facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. See id. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient 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, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. See id.

In addition, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements. See Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 674 (D.C.Cir. 1999). Rather, the nonmoving party "must come forward with specific facts" that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. See id. at 675, 164 F.3d 671. If the evidence "is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (citations omitted). Finally, the D.C. Circuit has directed that because it is difficult for a plaintiff to establish proof of discrimination, the court should view summary-judgment motions in such cases ...


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