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Young v. Perry

October 20, 2006

MATTIE YOUNG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STEPHEN A. PERRY, ADMINISTRATOR, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case is brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§621-34 ("ADEA"). Plaintiff alleges that she was subjected to unlawful age discrimination when she was not selected for one of three Information Technology Specialist ("I.T. Specialist") positions at the Federal Supply Service of the General Services Administration ("GSA"). At the time that plaintiff was not selected for the position, she was sixty-two years old. Defendant has moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff has failed to rebut the GSA's nondiscriminatory reasons for not selecting her. As explained herein, the Court concludes that defendant's motion should be granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Mattie Young, born in 1940, began working in the GSA Administrative Mail Room in 1972 as a program analyst and moved into telecommunications for the GSA in 1980. (Def.'s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 1, 2; Def. Ex. 3 [plaintiff's resume] at 2.) Since then, she has held several different positions at the GSA and the U.S. Department of Justice relating to telecommunications. (Def. Ex. 3 at 2.) In 1989, plaintiff began working at the GSA's Federal Supply Service ("FSS") as a Telecommunication Manager, the position she held at the time of the non-selection at issue here. (Id.) While working at the GSA, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1995 and a Master of Public Administration degree in Government Management/Public Administration in 1997. (Def.'s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 4, 5.)

In March 2002, plaintiff unsuccessfully applied for the I.T. Specialist position (GS-2210-13) at the FSS, posted under GSA Vacancy Announcement No. 020067521. (Def.'s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 7, 15; Def. Ex. 5 at 1-2 [Vacancy Announcement].) The Vacancy Announcement listed the following "knowledge, skills, and abilities" ("KSAs") by which "the best qualified candidates" would be identified:

1. Knowledge and experience in the implementation, support, and maintenance of information technology hardware and/or software.

2. Knowledge and experience in systems analysis, methodologies, systems design, and development techniques.

3. Planning and Organizing -- Ability to establish an appropriate course of action for self and others to accomplish specific goals and objectives, to set priorities, to make proper assignments of personnel, and to appropriate [sic] utilize resources.

4. Ability to effectively communicate, both orally and in writing.

(Def. Ex. 5 at 2.)

Thirteen candidates applied for the I.T. Specialist positions, and of these, eight, including plaintiff, were rated "qualified" in the initial screening. (Def. Ex. 5 at 10 [Initial Screening Worksheet].) Six of the qualified candidates, including plaintiff, were then placed on the "Merit Promotion Referral" list. (Id. at 11.) In selecting from among these six candidates, the recommending official, Jonathan T. Folz, Director of the FSS Information Infrastructure Division, consulted the candidates' Team Leaders -- Joshua Jackson and Deborah Chapper. (Def.'s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 10.) Chapper was the Team Leader for applicants Patrick Haas and Antonio Notarangelo. She recommended Notarangelo (born in 1957) for the position. (Id. ¶ 12.) Jackson was the Team Leader for plaintiff, Sherry Shackelford (born in 1964), Claudius Smith (born in 1965), and Christopher Simmons (born in 1971). He recommended Shackelford and Smith; he did not recommend plaintiff or Simmons. (Id. ¶ 13.) Jackson testified that his recommendations for the I.T. Specialist positions were based on: (1) experience in information technology; (2) history of performance in information technology; (3) capability to perform in an information technology environment at a high level; (4) demonstrated ability to "accomplish high-level tasks in a timely manner;" (5) writing skills; (6) oral skills necessary to make presentations and lead training sessions; and (7) ability to "fill in as a leader" in his absence. (Def. Ex. 4 [Jackson Dep.] at 14.) He also stated that Shackelford and Smith's work habits, work quality, overall diligence, and "willingness to take on added responsibility" made them "stand out" from the other two applicants on his team, plaintiff and Simmons. (Id. at 73.) In contrast, he pointed to several problems with plaintiff's work performance -- i.e., her failure to complete certain assignments or to complete them in a timely manner, and her absence from some weekly staff meetings. (Pl. Ex. 2[Jackson Dep.] at 25-41, 44-48.)

Based on his review of the applications and the recommendations of Jackson and Chapper, Folz submitted the names of the three recommended applicants to the selecting official, Donald Heffernan, who was Chief Information Officer for the FSS. (Def.'s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 14.) In turn, Heffernan accepted the recommendations of Chapper, Jackson, and Folz, and selected Notarangelo, Shackelford, and Smith for the positions. (Id. ¶ 15.)

Plaintiff filed a discrimination complaint with the GSA Office of Civil Rights on July 19, 2002, claiming that her non-selection for the I.T. Specialist position was due to age discrimination. (Compl. ¶ 1 and Ex. A.) In May 2004, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") granted summary judgment in favor of the GSA and dismissed plaintiff's claim. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff subsequently appealed the EEOC decision to the Office of Federal Operations, and her appeal was dismissed. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 4.) Shortly thereafter, plaintiff filed this complaint on December 27, 2004. Focusing exclusively on one of the three successful applicants, plaintiff argues that she was better qualified for the I.T. Specialist position than selectee Smith because of her "deeper education and proven written skills in comparison to Smith," and that Smith was selected because of his younger age. (Pl.'s Opp'n at 20.) ...


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