United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
M. HILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
a male employee of the United States Postal Service
("USPS"), initiated this suit for discrimination on
September 29, 2017. In 1993, Plaintiff was hired by USPS as a
mechanic and was moved, a few years later, to position as an
electronics engineering technician at the Dulles Processing
and Distribution Center ("Dulles P&DC") in
Loudon County. After his move and during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff's first level supervisor was Clement
Jackson, and his second level supervisor was Gloria Luna.
has self-published two books on his studies of genetics. In
approximately 2010, Plaintiff began posting advertisements
for these books in USPS facilities, including the employee
bulletin board at Dulles P&DC and community bulletin
boards in the public lobbies of several USPS Post Offices.
notices were removed. Plaintiff was informed that certain
individuals found the notices to be offensive and that he was
not authorized to post things for sale on the employee
bulletin board. Two supervisors in particular were
responsible for the removal of the book advertisements. Ms.
Luna removed one book advertisement some time in 2010 or
2011, as instructed by a higher-level USPS supervisor; and
Vincent Carter instructed Plaintiff to cease posting such
advertisements. Plaintiff continued to do so, posting up to
four times a day, and at least 1, 000 times in total on one
community bulletin board location.
years later, on September 3, 2014, Plaintiff left his
personal vehicle parked in the Agency's parking lot.
After that time, the vehicle, while unoccupied and in neutral
gear, began rolling from the parking space. The vehicle
traveled nearly 100 feet, crossing over the employee walkway
and struck a curb before stopping. Plaintiff's vehicle
was not placed in the park position, which was cited as cause
for the incident.
for the safety of employees on the premises, Ms. Luna
initiated a pre-disciplinary interview, at which Plaintiff
was represented by a union representative. Following that
interview, Ms. Luna and Mr. Carter recommended
Plaintiff's employment be terminated because of the car
incident. On October 6, Plaintiff received a thirty-day
termination letter. Through the union grievance process, the
termination was reduced to a seven-day "paper
suspension" to be removed from Plaintiff s personnel
file after three months. For this reason, Plaintiff never
served a formal suspension and never lost pay as a result of
the disciplinary action.
November, 2014, Plaintiff was denied overtime pay for time he
spent working as the Equal Employment Opportunity
("EEO") representative at his workplace. Plaintiff
spent numerous hours counseling a co-worker through the EEO
process and attended a deposition for the related case.
remains employed at USPS. Plaintiffs supervisor, Ms. Luna,
retired in 2015. His other supervisor, Mr. Carter, remains
with USPS but Plaintiff has had no difficulties with Carter
since the 2014 discipline for the rollaway incident.
December 15, 2014, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC"). In
January, 2015, the EEO Office informed Plaintiff that it
would investigate his discrimination and retaliation claim
with respect to the single notice of removal issued in
October, 2014. The letter instructed Plaintiff that, if he
did not agree with the determined scope, he must provide a
written response within seven days of the receipt of the
letter. Plaintiff never identified any disagreement. The EEOC
judge concluded Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that
USPS' rationale was a mere pretext for unlawful
discriminatory animus. On July 3, 2017, the EEOC provided
Plaintiff with a Right to Sue Letter. Later that same year,
Plaintiff filed the Complaint initiating this action.
Second Amended Complaint, . Plaintiff alleged Illegal
Termination and Failure to Pay Overtime under Title VII
(Counts I and II), First Amendment Retaliation under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III), Free Speech Violation under
42. U.S.C. § 1983 (Count IV), Violation of
Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Right to Equal
Protection of the Law under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count V),
Religious Discrimination and Genetic Discrimination under
Title VII (Counts VI and VII). On January 22, 2019, the Court
granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss on Counts V, VI,
and VII. Discovery is now complete and Defendant's case
is ripe for summary judgment.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is
appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material fact
and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When reviewing a
motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290
F.3d 639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court may enter summary
judgment when a party “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). The “mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[nonmovant's] position will be insufficient" to find
an issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).
initiate a lawsuit for discrimination, a plaintiff must first
exhaust his administrative remedies by filing a complaint
with the EEOC and receive a Notice of Right to Sue. See
Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 415-17 (4th Cir. 2006).
In that complaint, the plaintiff must raise any claim that
"reasonably relate[s]" to those raised within the
later judicial complaint. Chacko v. Paxutent Inst.,
429 F.3d 505, 509 (4th Cir. 2005)(quoting Evans v. Techs.
Apps. & Servs. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 962-63 (4th Cir.
1996)) . Thus, the scope of a private action is limited by
“the scope of the administrative investigation that can
reasonably be expected to follow the charge of
discrimination." Chisolm v. United States Postal
Serv., 665 F.2d 482, 491 (4th Cir. 1981). Only those
claims stated in, those that reasonably relate to, and those
developed by a reasonable investigation of the original
complaint may be maintained in a subsequent lawsuit. See
Evans v. Technologies Applications & Serv. Co., 80
F.3d 954, 962-63 (4th Cir. 1996}.
Plaintiff failed to fully exhaust his failure to pay overtime
claim with the EEOC. His formal administrative complaint does
not mention USPS's decision to not pay him overtime for
assistance he provided to another USPS employee. Plaintiff
received a letter informing him that the agency had construed
his administrative complaint to include only a claim based on
the notice of removal and so, consequently, would not
investigate any other claim. The letter instructed Plaintiff
to provide, within seven days, a written response specifying
any disagreement with the defined scope. Plaintiff did not.
He also did not attempt to amend his administrative
complaint, although after failing to respond to this notice,
it is unlikely that he would have been allowed to do so.
See Black v. Potter, 2008 WL 509475, at *14 (D.S.C.
Feb. 21), aff'd on other grounds, 286 Fed.Appx. 841 (4th
Cir. 2008). Raising this claim in federal court, without
fully exhausting the available administrative remedies, is