Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Harter v. Brennan

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

November 8, 2017

JUSTIN HARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Justin Harter was employed by the Postal Service during the holiday season in 2014 as a Postal Support Employee (PSE). He applied to be rehired as a PSE twice the following year, but was not rehired. His employment files with the Postal Service contain conflicting documents concerning his performance in 2014-the first, in his file at the district office, indicates his performance was satisfactory; a second, in his local file, indicates that he was terminated for cause and given a do-not-rehire recommendation by his supervisor. Harter alleges he was never informed that he was terminated for cause, and that the poor performance evaluation was false and fabricated as pretext for not rehiring him. He further alleges he was not rehired because of his race and gender.

         In this action, Harter alleges race and sex discrimination, breach of contract, and Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) prohibited practices claims against Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan (Defendant). Defendant moves to dismiss Harter's breach of contract and prohibited practice claims. Because the applicable provisions of the CBA do not apply to PSEs, Defendant's motion to dismiss Harter's breach of contract claim, is granted. However, because the Supreme Court has made clear that the appropriate forum for review of cases presenting both CSRA and federal antidiscrimination claims is the district court, Defendant's motion to dismiss Harter's prohibited practices claim is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Justin Harter worked as a Postal Support Employee over the holiday term from November 28, 2014, to December 26, 2014. ECF No. 19 at 3. He alleges that he was not absent or late, he had no write ups for discipline, and his work was satisfactory during that time. ECF No. 19 at 3. He alleges his employment was governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). ECF No. 19 at 3.

         At the end of this period, Harter's supervisor Dorian Chastain included a “Form 50” and evaluation in Harter's local employment records indicating that Harter was terminated from his seasonal employment and recommending that Harter not be rehired. ECF No. 19 at 3-4. The reasons for this recommendation included that Harter was “late often, ” his “attitude was poor, ” and he “did not follow instructions.” ECF No. 19 at 3-4. This form is not in Harter's official Postal Service employment record. ECF No. 19 at 4. The official Form 50, kept at the Postal Service District Office, does not reflect any basis for termination, indicates that Harter's work was satisfactory, and does not include a do-not-rehire recommendation. ECF No. 19 at 4-5. Chastain later acknowledged that he did not directly supervise Harter, that two of Harter's three on-the-job instructors rated Harter as average, and that he never informed Harter that he was terminated for cause. ECF No. 19.

         Harter alleges he did not know he was terminated for cause, and so did not initially bring a claim before the EEO or MSPB based on the termination. ECF No. 19 at 4.

         Harter applied for rehiring on September 28, 2015. ECF No. 19 at 5. He received a passing score on the hiring exam for the position. ECF No. 19 at 5. On November 3, he was notified that he was not selected for rehiring because he failed to respond to a contact from Postal officials on October 19, 2015. ECF No. 19 at 5. Harter denies being contacted by any Postal employee on October 19, and, instead, alleges that he called about the status of his application that day and left a message for an HR specialist who never returned his call. ECF No. 19 at 5-6. He alleges that he called twice more before November 3 and left messages. ECF No. 19 at 6.

         HR specialist Grace Coldsnow called Harter on November 3, 2015, and told him that he was not selected because he failed to respond to her calls and told him that he had no recourse except to reapply to the next job posting. ECF No. 19 at 6. Coldsnow did not inform Harter that local records showed he was terminated for cause in December 2014 and was a non-rehire. ECF No. 19 at 6.

         Harter again applied for rehiring on November 5, 2015. ECF No. 19 at 7. He was interviewed on November 19 and informed on November 23 that he was not selected for the position. ECF No. 19 at 7. Postal Service documents indicate only that Harter was “not recommended.” ECF No. 19 at 7. His hiring exam score was higher than that of applicants who were hired. ECF No. 19 at 7.

         Harter alleges that he was discriminated against based on his Native American race and his gender. ECF No. 19 at 7. He alleges his supervisors and instructors were aware that he was Native American because of his disclosure on his application that he attended Haskell Indian Nations University, conversations regarding his minority status, and past employment with tribal agencies. ECF No. 29 at 3.

         Harter filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) claim alleging race and sex discrimination. ECF No. 19 at 7. The agency rejected Harter's claims relating to his termination as untimely. ECF No. 19 at 8; ECF No. 19-1. The agency rejected his claims concerning rehiring because, despite concluding that he made a prima facie case of sex discrimination, it found that the management demonstrated non-discriminatory reasons for not hiring Harter: (a) he did not respond to a request for an interview time for the first position and (b) the unfavorable employment evaluation by Chastain. ECF No. 19 at 8; ECF No. 19-1 at 15. Harter alleges that Chastain's evaluation was fabricated, and that, had he known he was terminated for cause in December 2014, he would have pursued legal remedies at that time. ECF No. 19 at 9.

         Harter also filed an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which was dismissed for lack of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.