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Young v. Brennan

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 9, 2018

PAULA L. YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          F. DENNIS SAYLOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a workplace discrimination action. Plaintiff Paula Young was formerly a temporary employee of the United States Postal Service. In the fall of 2010, Young was involved in a minor automobile accident, after which she took leave from work for almost eight weeks. The Postal Service did not approve that period of leave, and subsequently declined to renew her temporary appointment. She has brought this action against the Postmaster General, alleging that the Postal Service violated the Family Medical Leave Act; unlawfully retaliated against her for engaging in protected conduct; and discriminated against her on the basis of race, sex, and disability. She is proceeding pro se.

         The Court granted defendant's motion to dismiss in part, dismissing all claims except plaintiff's claims for race and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII. Defendant has now moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on the remaining claims. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction will be denied, and the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are as set forth in record and are undisputed except as noted.[1]

         Paula Young is an African-American woman and a former Postal Service employee. (Compl. at 1). Megan Brennan is the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service. (Id.).

         Young began working for the Postal Service in 2008. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 2). She was employed as a transitional employee letter carrier (“TE”), which was a temporary appointment for one year. (Id.). TEs are paid hourly and do not have set work schedules. (Id. ¶ 5). However, they are expected to work at least 40 hours per week, and are permitted to work up to 56 hours per week. (Id.). The Postal Service hires TEs to save costs, namely to minimize overtime wages for career letter carriers. (Id.). If a TE does not work 40 hours per week, his or her work would have to be handled by another TE or a career letter carrier. (Id.). The one-year appointment can be renewed, but under the governing collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), the Postal Service has discretion in deciding whether to rehire a TE. (Id. ¶ 2).

         It appears that Young's one-year appointment was renewed in June 2009. In March 2010, she was transferred to the Waltham Annex Post Office. (Id. ¶ 3). Her immediate supervisors in Waltham were Mark Boyden and Lisa Maydoney. (Boyden Decl. ¶ 2; Maydoney Decl. ¶ 2). Her second-level supervisor was Christopher Porfert, the Waltham Post Office manager. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 3). In June 2010, before her one-year appointment as a TE expired on June 30, 2010, Porfert rehired her for another one-year term. (Id. ¶ 4).

         Between late June and mid-October 2010, Young worked an average of 31 hours per week, 9 hours below the expected 40-hour minimum for a TE. (Id. ¶ 6).

         On October 8, 2010, Young was delivering mail in her Postal Service truck. (Young Dep. at 24-25). When she was stopped at a stop sign, an automobile struck the rear of the truck. (Id. at 26-27) (“I felt a push, a jerk, a shove.”). There was no damage done to either vehicle. (Id. at 35).

         Young called Porfert, who immediately visited the accident site accompanied by a repairman. (Id. at 36-38; Porfert Decl. ¶ 7). Porfert noted that neither Young nor the other driver appeared to be injured. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 7). However, Young told him that she had a headache, and that “I wouldn't feel any real pain until tomorrow.” (Young Dep. at 38). Porfert confirmed that there was no damage done to either vehicle and concluded that the sedan had merely tapped into the truck at low speed. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 8). Afterwards, Young completed her postal route for the day and returned to the Waltham facility. (Young Dep. at 39-40). Porfert did not report any injuries to the Postal Service. (Pl.'s Opp. at 2).[2]

         Once she arrived back at the Waltham facility, Young spoke with Maydoney. (Maydoney Decl. ¶ 3). Young did not mention the accident or any injuries to her. She then worked five consecutive days the following week. (Boyden Decl. ¶¶ 3-4). During that time, she did not state she had been injured on October 8, 2010, to any of her supervisors. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 9; Boyden Decl. ¶ 4; Maydoney Decl. ¶ 3).

         On November 1, 2010, Young's health-care provider faxed a document to the Waltham Post Office stating that she had suffered “multiple injuries” stemming from a “MVA.” (Maydoney Decl. ¶ 5). The fax was the first time the Postal Service had learned that Young complained of an injury. (Porfert Decl. ¶¶ 9, 11; Boyden Decl. ¶ 4; Maydoney Decl. ¶¶ 3, 5).

         Upon receiving the fax, Maydoney called Porfert, who instructed her to ask Young for an explanation. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 11; Maydoney Decl. ¶ 5). That evening, Young told Maydoney that she had injured her lower back and neck in the car accident and had sought medical treatment at a hospital. (Maydoney Decl. ¶ 5). According to Maydoney, Young also stated she would need physical therapy and that the accident “worked out great” because she was in the process of moving and could use the time to address some personal issues. (Id.).

         On November 2, 2010, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Porfert called Young, with Boyden and Maydoney listening in. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 12). According to the supervisors, Young brought up her history of childbirth as an explanation for why she suffered from back pain. (Id.; Boyden Decl. ¶ 5; Maydoney Decl. ¶ 6). However, Young testified at her deposition that Porfert suggested that her pain was due to pregnancy. (Young Dep. at 61).

         During that same November 2 call, Porfert told Young to come into the office the next day and fill out the required paperwork to report an injury. (Porfert Decl. ¶ 12). The parties agreed that she would come in at 1:00 p.m. the following day, which was November 3. (Id.).

         Young did not report for work on November 3. At approximately 5:00 p.m. that day, a woman identifying herself as Young's daughter stated that Young was sick and could not attend that day. (Pl. Ex. 3)[3].

         Young did not come into the Post Office anytime during the following week. (Maydoney Decl. ¶ 7). According to Porfert, around that time, he decided that he would ...


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