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Stores v. Brennan

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

April 13, 2017

LARRY D. STORES, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, POSTMASTER GENERAL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Glen E. Conrad, Chief United States District Judge

         Larry D. Stores filed this action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") against Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service"). Stores claims that the Postal Service failed to promote him to a supervisory position because of his age. The Postal Service has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

         Background

         The following facts are either undisputed or presented in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013)., Stores was employed by the Postal Service from May of 1980 until his retirement in September of 2016. For most of his career, Stores worked as a Maintenance Mechanic at the Roanoke, Virginia Processing and Distribution Center (the "Roanoke P&DC"). In this non-supervisory position, Stores was considered a "craft" employee. Stores Dep. 30, Docket No. 25-1. His supervisory experience with the Postal Service was limited to filling in as a temporary supervisor for "a couple of months back in the early '90's." Id. at 29.

         Stores also served in the United States Army Reserves from November 1, 1972 until June 1, 1995. During part of his time in the Reserves, Stores supervised lower-ranking officers. See Id. at 35-36 ("Basically in the Reserves ... I would supervise other people because I was a staff sergeant.").

         On September 23, 2014, the Postal Service posted openings for the position of Supervisor of Maintenance Operations ("SMO") at the Roanoke P&DC. There were three SMO positions available, one for each of the three eight-hour shifts. Candidates were able to apply for any or all of the openings through eCareer, an online job application system. The listed duties and responsibilities included supervising electronic technicians, mechanics, custodians, and maintenance technicians; supervising preventative and maintenance activities; supervising the preparation of work assignments and maintenance schedules; ensuring that maintenance employees received proper training; and meeting with union representatives to resolve disagreements.

         Seven candidates applied for one or more of the open SMO positions. All seven, including Stores, applied for the daytime position. Stores did not apply for either of the other vacancies.

         Victor Burgess, the Manager of Maintenance at the Roanoke P&DC, served as the Selecting Official for the posted SMO positions. After interviewing several candidates, including Stores, Burgess selected Sheila Belcher for the daytime SMO position. Belcher had eighteen years of management experience with the Postal Service. For over sixteen years, Belcher served as the Postmaster or Officer-in-Charge of various post offices in Virginia and West Virginia. She then served, on an interim basis, as the Supervisor of Mail Processing in Bluefield, West Virginia, the Supervisor of Distribution Operations in Charleston, West Virginia, the Supervisor of Customer Service in Bluefield, West Virginia, and the Supervisor of Distribution Operations in Roanoke. Additionally, at the time of her interview, Belcher was temporarily serving as an acting SMO at the Roanoke P&DC.

         On December 1, 2014, Stores was notified that he was not selected for the daytime SMO position. He was 64 years old at the time of the decision; Belcher was 54 years old.

         Procedural History

         On March 2, 2016, Stores filed the instant action asserting claims of discrimination under the ADEA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"). On September 14, 2016, the court dismissed the claims under Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act for failure to timely exhaust administrative remedies. Stores v. Brennan, No. 7:16CV00088, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125580 (W.D. Va. Sept. 14, 2016).

         Following the completion of discovery, the Postal Service moved for summary judgment on the remaining claim of discrimination under the ADEA. The court held a hearing on the motion on April 10, 2017. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         Standard of Review

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to move for summary judgment. "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether to grant a summary judgment motion, the court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in his favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Libertarian Party of Va., 718 F.3d at 312. However, "[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice, nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence' in support of [the nonmoving ...


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