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Anderson v. Brennan

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 23, 2016

DIPING Y. ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Diping Anderson was formerly employed as a Postal Police Officer (“PPO”) by the U.S. Postal Service. She claims that the Postal Service unlawfully terminated her on the basis of her Chinese descent and in retaliation for her filing multiple complaints of race discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

         The Postal Service moves for summary judgment on the basis that it had a nondiscriminatory reason for terminating Anderson: a series of workplace misconduct incidents. Anderson responds that her workplace misconduct was a pretextual reason for her termination, as evidenced by the fact that she received harsher punishment than similarly situated white PPOs for the same misconduct. Because a factfinder could reasonably conclude that race and/or retaliatory motive was a determining factor in the Postal Service's termination of Anderson, the Postal Service's motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 44) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual Background

         The facts below are taken from the record, and are undisputed except where stated.

         Diping Anderson immigrated to the United States from China in 1990. She began working as a PPO on July 15, 2000. She was the only PPO of Asian descent during her thirteen years of employment at the Boston General Mail Facility.

         On May 12, 2011, Anderson filed her first pre-complaint statement with the EEOC, alleging race discrimination by her supervisors, Captain Harrington and Sergeant Ford. She alleged that on May 1, 2011, Harrington and Ford impeded her return to work from a workplace injury because of her race.

         On May 23, 2011, the EEOC notified Harrington and Ford of Anderson's May 12, 2011 EEOC filing. On May 25, 2011, Anderson came into work to find that her normal chair had been replaced by a broken chair. When she objected, Ford told Anderson to go home if she didn't like it. Anderson went home. On May 26, 2011, Ford rescinded his approval of her request for leave on May 21, 2011 and changed her status on that day to “AWOL.” On June 15, 2011, the EEOC convened a redress conference between Anderson and her supervisors.

         On June 24, 2011, Anderson was issued a seven-day suspension, signed by Ford, for leaving her assigned post without proper authorization. The notice of suspension stated that Anderson had left the facility on May 21, 25, and 26, 2011 without prior approval.

         On July 9, 2011, Anderson filed her first formal EEOC complaint. She alleged, among other things, that her seven-day suspension was based on race discrimination.

         On March 25, 2012, Anderson filed her second formal complaint with the EEOC, alleging that she was being harassed by her supervisors in retaliation for her prior EEOC filing.

         On August 29, 2012, Anderson was issued a Letter of Warning, signed by Sergeant Joseph Motrucinski, for failure to properly protect and secure her service weapon upon the completion of her duties. The letter stated that, on August 1, 2012, Anderson improperly placed her loaded service weapon in her personal locker in the women's changing room at the end of her shift rather than securing it in the designated weapon locker in the weapon room.

         On September 11, 2012, Anderson filed a pre-complaint statement with the EEOC alleging that the August 29, 2012 Letter of ...


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