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West v. Potter

March 3, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. United States District Judge


Jacqueline West ("West"), a former employee of the United States Postal Service, brings this action against John Potter, in his official capacity as Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service"). West alleges that the Postal Service's treatment of her violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. In her prolix complaint, West alleges that the Postal Service discriminated against her on the basis of her race, sex, and disability, breached a settlement agreement with her, and retaliated against her because she engaged in protected Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") activity.

Before the court is the Postal Service's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment [#20]. Upon consideration of the motion, West's opposition thereto, and the record of this case, the court concludes that the Postal Service's motion should be granted.


The facts and circumstances pertinent to the instant motion are as follows. West worked for the Postal Service from at least 1991 through May 31, 2005.*fn1 From 1997 through 1999, she filed numerous complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that she was a victim of discrimination by the Postal Service, based on her sex and religion, and harassment and retaliation. In July 1999, she filed a Title VII action against the Postal Service, West v. Henderson, Civ. No. 99-1975 (D.D.C. Nov. 3, 2000) ("West I "), grounded on these allegations. West I was resolved in favor of the Postal Service and against West when this court granted the Postal Service's motion for summary judgment. The West I court determined that West had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies and had failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination.

While West I was pending, West requested and received a transfer from the Southern Maryland Processing and Distribution Center to the Curseen & Morris Processing and Distribution Center in Washington, D.C. ("D.C. Center"). West earlier had been transferred from the D.C. Center after a male Postal Service employee made threatening remarks about her and other female supervisors. West requested a transfer back to the D.C. Center, stating that "the reason for the indirect reassignment [to the Southern Maryland Center] is a moot issue." Decl. of Louis Higginbotham; id., Ex. 1. The Postal Service granted West's request and reassigned her to the D.C. Center. Despite her job description as a Supervisor of Maintenance Operations, West was assigned administrative duties on her return.

The parties disagree sharply regarding the reason for the change in West's job duties. West asserts that her new duties were part of a settlement of a worker's compensation claim. The Postal Service, however, disputes the existence of a settlement agreement and maintains that West was assigned administrative duties because she expressed an interest in such duties, demonstrated the necessary skills to perform them, and because no supervisory position was available at the time of her transfer.

After West had been performing administrative duties at the D.C. Center for four years, the Postal Service on May 18, 2005, informed her that she would be transferred to a recently vacated maintenance supervisor position, effective June 4, 2005. The Postal Service indicated that West was to be transferred because the administrative duties she was performing had been absorbed by others and because there was a need for her to fill a recently vacated maintenance supervisor position. West stopped coming to work after May 31, 2005.

On June 27, 2005, West requested EEO counseling claiming that the transfer that was to have taken place on June 4 was a violation of the settlement agreement that she had negotiated with the Postal Service prior to returning to D.C. Center. West also alleged a panoply of Title VII and Rehabilitation Act claims, all of which she presents in the instant lawsuit.


As has been noted, plaintiff's amended complaint is prolix in the extreme. And, her opposition to the Postal Service's motion is similarly disjointed. Nevertheless, her claims may be summarized and addressed as follows.

A. West's Title VII Claims

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it "an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2(a)(1).

The events underlying West's Title VII claims fall into four chronological groupings. West's first claim is premised upon numerous instances of alleged discrimination that occurred prior to May 13, 2005. The second claim is grounded on events that occurred on May 31, 2005, and relate to West's attempt to use her sick leave. The third claim involves events that occurred after May 31, 2005, when West's nameplate was removed from her door and the persons whom she was to begin supervising on June 4 were instructed that she ...

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