Lucenti v. Potter

Decision Date25 May 2006
Docket NumberNo. 03 Civ. 4298(RWS).,03 Civ. 4298(RWS).
Citation432 F.Supp.2d 347
PartiesLisa LUCENTI, Plaintiff, v. John E. POTTER, Postmaster General, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of New York

Lloyd Somer, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.

Michael J. Garcia, United States Attorney for Southern District of New York, New York, NY (Rebecca C. Martin, Assistant U.S. Attorney, of counsel), for Defendant.


SWEET, District Judge.

The defendant John E. Potter, Postmaster General (the "Government") has moved under Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., to dismiss the complaint of plaintiff Lisa Lucenti ("Lucenti"), alleging discrimination while employed by the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

Prior Proceedings

Lucenti filed her complaint on June 12, 2003, alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment on the basis of gender and disability and was retaliated against for complaining about the alleged discrimination, that the. Postal Service failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for her alleged mental disability, and that she suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Discovery proceeded, and the action was referred for settlement, which was not achieved.

The Government filed the instant motion for summary judgment on June 16, 2005. Lucenti filed her opposition on October 25, 2005. The motion was marked fully submitted upon the filing of the Government's reply on January 6, 2006.

The Facts

The facts as set forth below are contained in the Government's Statement of Undisputed Facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 ("Government Statement") and the Plaintiff's Rule 56.1(b) Statement ("Plaintiff Statement") and are not in dispute except as noted.

Lucenti worked at the Postal Service's Lenox Hill facility ("Lenox Hill"), located in New York, New York, and joined the Postal Service in or about 1987 as a "sub carrier." By 1988, Lucenti was a regular carrier, and by 1990 she was a truck driver at the Lenox Hill facility in Manhattan, assigned to mail collection. In 1993, Lucenti's job changed from truck driver to foot carrier.

Lucenti bid for and obtained the position of an "auxiliary" letter carrier or "auxiliary end." Her position is also referred to as a "day router." An auxiliary end is a carrier who is assigned to assist on a route that has more mail volume than one person can handle in an eight-hour workday, but not enough volume to justify assigning two people to that route full-time.

Lucenti provided auxiliary assistance to Route 2149, usually referred to as "Route 49," by casing, i.e., sorting and delivering mail.

On or about October 1, 1992, Lucenti contacted an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") counselor about her allegations that she had been subjected to harassment by Carrier Supervisor Walter Fox ("Fox"). According to Lucenti, she was told she did not have a case and did not pursue the EEO process. The matter was closed on October 15, 1992. Fox was transferred out of Lenox Hill.

According to Lucenti, the transfer resulted from Fox's sexual harassment of her and another female carrier. Fox acknowledged the accusations that he had discussed with co-employees Lucenti's complaint, that he had called Lucenti a "stiff," meaning someone who does not do their work, and that he spoke to other supervisors and informed Lois Hughes ("Hughes"), a subsequent supervisor of Lucenti, that Lucenti was part of the reason for his transfer.

In approximately calendar year 2002 or 2003, Fox spoke to acting manager David Pryor ("Pryor") of Lenox Hill and told Pryor that Lucenti had been part of the reason for his transfer from Lenox Hill. Pryor stated to Fox that Lucenti was a problem and that it was possible that he had spoken to Lucenti's supervisor Jankowski and other supervisors about Lucenti.

In 1995, Lucenti complained of being harassed by supervisor Edward Rossi ("Rossi"). According to Lucenti, Rossi stated that she had nice legs and commented on her breasts. Rossi ceased being her supervisor in 1995. Rossi informed Fox that ". . . he had a similar problem with Lucenti that I had," that Lucenti had also filed a sexual harassment claim against him and that was the reason that he was transferred to Grand Central Station.

After Rossi left his position as carrier supervisor in 1995, Lucenti told her co-workers to stop making sexual comments to her "and they did. So they stopped." Lucenti Dep. Tr. at 59:25-60:7. According to Lucenti, the comments stopped temporarily and resumed up to the time of her deposition, and the comments included "stiff' and "cuckoo."

After Rossi departed, Lucenti was supervised by Hughes. Lucenti Dep. Tr. at 289:3-12. Lucenti testified that Hughes remarked that Lucenti was "the type of girl that should have a little puppy dog with her little skirt." Lucenti Dep. Tr. at 289:18-291:2. After these comments, Lucenti spoke to Hughes and asked her to be fair to her, after which Hughes and Lucenti got along well. Lucenti has conceded that Hughes did not discriminate against her on any proscribed ground, and that Lucenti never filed an EEO complaint against Hughes. Hughes wrote one disciplinary notice for Lucenti.

In 1996, station manager Phil Mazzio ("Mazzio") and area manager Roberto Agostini ("Agostini") were assigned to Lenox Hill and denied Lucenti's request for vacation time. Lucenti alleged that Mazzio and Agostini harassed her and filed a grievance regarding the denial of vacation time. Lucenti also filed an EEO complaint against Mazzio and Agostini, which was dismissed. Lucenti admits that in or around 1996, Agostini ceased communicating with her after an EEO representative spoke to Agostini about verbal harassment of Lucenti.

Lucenti has stated that during the calendar year 1998, any harassment subsided.

Lucenti has made no allegation of harassment or any discriminatory activity from the 1996 alleged incident with Mazzio and Agostini up through April 1999 when she was briefly supervised and allegedly harassed by Michael Harricharan ("Harricharan"), who wrote up a disciplinary charge on which, according to Lucenti, she was exonerated. According to Lucenti, Harricharan asked Lucenti out on a date, made lewd comments regarding her physical appearance, and would "eye" Lucenti with sexual overtones which made her feel very uncomfortable. Harricharan left Lenox Hill shortly after supervising Lucenti. Lucenti never filed an EEO complaint with respect to the alleged actions of Harricharan.

According to Lucenti, supervisor Michael Berger ("Berger") commented to her that her position on Route 49 was not an 8-hour assignment, criticized her for working too slowly, belittled her, made degrading comments, and increased her assignments unnecessarily.

Lucenti has alleged that in 1999 Pryor, supervisor Stephen Jankowski ("Jankowski"), and supervisor Valerie Barksdale ("Barksdale") pushed her to finish her work on Route 49, yelled at her, criticized her and called her a "stiff' because she was not working as quickly as they believed she should and, from time to time, would move her from Route 49 to other routes. She has alleged that Pryor would stand and watch how she worked, would yell and threaten to fire her because she wasn't "putting up the mail fast enough for him," and that "the way [Pryor] used to stare at me" was "sexual." Lucenti has alleged that Pryor moved the "route"—the work area where the carriers for Route 49 sorted and cased mail—into the middle of the work floor so that Lucenti and her partner would be seen at all times. Lucenti has claimed that Pryor "planted" first class mail that should already have been delivered in her mail tubs and falsely accused her of failing to deliver this mail, and that Pryor said that her workload on Route 49 was not a full-time job and instructed her to deliver mail in an additional building that was not on Route 49.

On or about January 19 and 24, 2000, Lucenti provided notes from her psychiatrist, Dr. Nehemia Zedek ("Dr.Zedek"), indicating that working overtime would exacerbate her alleged anxiety condition. Lucenti has alleged that despite these notes, management demanded that she deliver mail to this new building because Pryor "felt [she] didn't have enough mail to do" on Route 49, and that doing so resulted in her working overtime. After Dr. Zedek's notes were provided, Lucenti worked a total of approximately eleven hours of overtime over the course of two months until March 23, 2000, at which point Lucenti was absent from work for seven months. Payroll records show that Lucenti worked 144.82 hours of overtime in 1998 and 115.96 hours of overtime in 1999.

Barksdale issued a notice of removal to Lucenti on March 10, 2000, which stated in part as follows:

You are the Day Router for Route 21049 [i.e., Route 49] when the volume warrants at Lenox Hill Station in New York City. You have been observed on several occasions finishing this end at 12:30 P.M.; and customers have stated while myself and T.S.P.O. Steve Jankowski went on a 3999 [annual observation of carrier by management] with you, that you always finish between 12:00 and 12:30 P.M. when your end tour is 3:00 P.M. Since this observation was brought to your attention you have purposely extended your office time allowing for the completion of your end to finish later in the day. Because of this observation Management has instructed you to begin the 350 East 77th Street building since December 1999, on Route 2150 avoiding this route from going into overtime and allowing you to absorb an eight hour day. Since this instruction has been given to you, you have failed to follow it and maintain schedule. I, Barksdale, you[r] immediate supervisor have on several occasions asked you have you started the 350 East 77th building, each reply was "NO." You have been found to be insubordinate in following management instructions to you.

Lucenti has alleged that Barksdale harassed...

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