235 F.3d 406 (8th Cir. 2000), 99-3396, Sherman v. Runyon

Docket Nº:99-3396
Citation:235 F.3d 406
Party Name:MICHAEL SHERMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, v. MARVIN T. RUNYON, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.
Case Date:December 19, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 406

235 F.3d 406 (8th Cir. 2000)

MICHAEL SHERMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

MARVIN T. RUNYON, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

No. 99-3396

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 19, 2000

Submitted: October 19, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota

Page 407

Before Hansen, Murphy, and Bye, Circuit Judges.

Bye, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Sherman, who is deaf and mute, appeals from the district court's 1 judgment in favor of defendant

Page 408

Marvin Runyon, the Postmaster General, on plaintiff Sherman's Rehabilitation Act claims. After a bench trial, the district court found that Sherman had failed to show that the United States Postal Service (USPS) had fired him because of his disability or in retaliation for his prior discrimination claims. Instead, the court accepted the USPS' stated reason, Sherman's display of violence in the workplace. We affirm the decision of the district court.

I.

Sherman has been deaf since birth. Although he cannot talk, he does vocalize. His primary language is American Sign Language (ASL). Prior to November 19, 1995, he had worked for the USPS at its main facility in Minneapolis for 15 years.

The USPS has adopted a zero tolerance policy toward workplace violence. In July 1995, Sherman's supervisor, Daniel Gergen, gave a talk on the subject to his section, which was translated into ASL for the benefit of the hearing impaired. Additionally, multi-page notices on the subject were posted at the facility.

In August 1995, Sherman began filing a series of informal complaints, called "hazard reports," against his co-workers for smoking in non-smoking areas. Additionally, in October 1995, he filed an informal complaint against Gergen with the USPS' Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office, alleging a violation of his privacy rights. Later, on November 17, he followed up with a formal EEO complaint alleging disability discrimination by Gergen.

On the night of November 19, 1995, Sherman was working overtime at his job as a mail sorter when Gergen informed him that he was not sorting a sufficient volume of mail. Sherman became angry and began vocalizing and gesturing at Gergen. Gergen then ordered him to leave work and go home. Sherman again vocalized, made gestures, and kicked a trash can. Sherman claims that his gestures were ASL signs for "why," and for "automobile" (indicating that he did not have a car and could not drive himself home). Gergen, who knows a limited amount of ASL, did not...

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