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Mianulli v. Potter

July 16, 2009

PAUL MIANULLI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Paul Mianulli filed this case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., alleging that the United States Postal Service ("USPS") unlawfully terminated his employment on the basis of his race or color, that USPS subjected him to racial harassment, and that USPS retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity.*fn1 USPS has set forth a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions, including Mr. Mianulli's termination, and has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, summary judgment in favor of USPS will be granted.

I. FACTS

Mr. Mianulli, a Caucasian man, began work as a management analyst in the Mail Equipment Shops ("MES") of USPS on or about October 20, 2003. Def.'s Statement of Material Facts as to Which There is No Genuine Dispute ("Def.'s Facts") [Dkt. #24] ¶ 1.*fn2 Mr. Mianulli was interviewed by and hired by John Worth, a Caucasian man who was plant manager. Id. Mr. Mianulli was given a probationary term of employment for the first six months of employment. Id. ¶ 4; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mot.") [Dkt. # 24], Ex. C, Notification of Personnel Action.

Mr. Mianulli was engaged in orientation and training for the first thirty days of employment, in Washington and Topeka, Kansas. Def.'s Mot., Ex. H, Worth Dep. at 83. During his first performance evaluation, after the thirty-day orientation, Mr. Mianulli was evaluated as performing satisfactorily for "Work Quantity" and "Work Quality," and evaluated as outstanding for "Dependability."*fn3 Def.'s Mot., Ex. O, Employment Eval. at boxes 7a and 7b (Mr. Mianulli's first evaluation was completed by Nov. 18, 2003).

Mr. Mianulli reported directly to Mr. Worth until approximately December 16, 2003, when Mr. Worth took a position as Program Manager at USPS Headquarters and Frank Scheer, also a Caucasian man, became the interim plant manager. Def.'s Facts ¶ 5. For consistency during the probationary period, Mr. Worth remained Mr. Mianulli's ultimate supervisor. Def.'s Facts ¶ 7. Mr. Worth visited the MES on a regular basis and conducted Mr. Mianulli's performance reviews, but Mr. Scheer observed Mr. Mianulli's performance on a dayto-day basis. Def.'s Mot., Ex. H, Worth Dep. at 158-59. In Mr. Mianulli's second performance review, dated January 7, 2004, Mr. Worth again concluded that Mr. Mianulli's Work Quantity and Work Quality were satisfactory and his Dependability was outstanding. Def.'s Mot., Ex. O, Employment Eval. at boxes 8a and 8b.

Despite the first two positive performance reviews, however, on February 2, 2004, Mr. Scheer spoke with Mr. Mianulli about performance deficiencies. Def.'s Mot., Ex. D, Scheer Aff. ("Following the February 2, 2004, manager's meeting, I asked Paul [Mianulli] to review all of his assignments and provide a status update. This was because he had not provided a December or a January accounting period summary and reasons for variances. I stated that I was concerned about his progress on project assignments and wanted to confirm how activity was allocated.... This was to be provided no later than a February 17, 2004 manager's meeting. No listing of assignments and status [was] received even though at least one verbal reminder was made."). Mr. Scheer warned Mr. Mianulli of his concerns and informed Mr. Worth of the problems he faced with Mr. Mianulli. Id.; Def.'s Mot., Ex. H, Worth Dep. at 112.

On approximately February 24, 2004, Sammy Rogers, an African American man, became the permanent plant manager and took over for Mr. Scheer. Def.'s Facts ¶ 6. On March 4, 2004, and March 12, 2004, Messrs. Worth, Scheer, and Rogers met with Mr. Mianulli to discuss Mr. Mianulli's weak performance. Id. ¶ 8. On March 12th, a Performance Action Plan was put into effect; Mr. Mianulli was given a list of specific tasks to complete and specific time frames in which to complete the tasks. Id. ¶ 9; Def's Mot., Ex. I, Performance Action Plan. On March 17, 2004, Mr. Worth conducted a performance evaluation of Mr. Mianulli and concluded that in all three areas, Work Quantity, Work Quality, and Dependability, Mr. Mianulli's performance was unacceptable. Def.'s Mot., Ex. O, Employee Eval. at boxes 9a and 9b. On March 19, 2004, Mr. Rogers had a counseling session with Mr. Mianulli to discuss his performance. Def.'s Facts ¶ 10.

Thereafter, Messrs. Worth, Scheer, and Rogers discussed whether to terminate Mr. Mianulli, who was still within the probationary period of his employment. Def.'s Facts ¶ 12. Mr. Worth was still Mr. Mianulli's official supervisor, and therefore Mr. Worth was ultimately responsible for the termination decision and he signed the termination letter. Id.; Def.'s Mot., Ex. G, Removal Letter.

Mr. Mianulli asserts that on March 23, 2004, before he was terminated, he called his second-line supervisor, James McConnell, and complained that he was being discriminated against because of his race and/or color. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. A, Mianulli Dep. at 63-64. Mr. McConnell does not recall any conversation of this nature and Mr. Mianulli has not provided any evidence to suggest that if the call were made, Mr. Worth was aware of it or any other alleged protected activity taken by Mr. Mianulli. Def.'s Mot., Ex. E, McConnell Decl. ¶ 9. On March 24, 2004, Mr. Worth terminated Mr. Mianulli's probationary employment at USPS. Def.'s Mot., Ex. G, Removal Letter.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A party is entitled to summary judgment if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); see also Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Summary judgment is not a disfavored motion, and indeed it is proper when the nonmoving party, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion... fails 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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

When considering 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. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than the mere existence of a "scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. Additionally, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements. Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999). Rather, the nonmoving party must present specific facts that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. Id. "If the ...


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