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Frazier v. Donahoe

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 15, 2016

PATRICK R. DONAHOE, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service (Capital Metro Agency), Defendant.



Plaintiff Larry Frazier Jr., acting without counsel, was employed in various capacities by the Defendant United States Postal Service (the “USPS”) until he took disability retirement. I have read Frazier’s long, rambling amended complaint, ECF No. 5, as bringing claims against Patrick R. Donahoe as the Postmaster General of the USPS for (i) discrimination and retaliation relating to his assignment to a new route; (ii) denial of a reasonable accommodation in removing him from an a limited duty route and rejecting his request to be placed on administrative leave; and (iii) denial of his ability to work overtime hours after he protested being assigned the new route. Frazier seeks compensatory and monetary damages as well as damages for loss of consortium and contingency fees.

Defendant USPS has filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment, Def.’s Mot., ECF No. 20, and accompanying memorandum, Def.’s Mem., ECF No. 20-1. Frazier has filed an opposition (again, long and rambling), Opp’n, ECF No. 24, [1] and accompanying memorandum, Opp’n Mem., ECF No. 24-1, and the USPS has filed a reply, Reply, ECF No. 27. A hearing is unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. Because Frazier’s discrimination and retaliation claims relating to his route reassignment are time-barred and his denial of reasonable accommodation and ability to work overtime claims are unsupported by the law, I will grant Defendant’s motion and dismiss this case.


The factual and procedural background set forth in Frazier’s amended complaint lacks clarity. It appears that he has been engaged in a decade-long dispute with the USPS with respect to the accommodations, or lack therefore, that the USPS provided to him while he was working in various capacities at the USPS, including as a letter carrier. See Am. Compl. 1, ECF No. 5. Prior to bringing this suit against Defendant, Frazier initiated at least one action against the USPS before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”). See Larry Frazier, Jr. v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Request No. 0520140222 (Oct. 31, 2014) (“EEOC Request”), available at Compl., ECF No. 1. The EEOC affirmed the USPS’s decision that it had not discriminated or retaliated against Frazier and denied his request for reconsideration. EEOC Request; Larry Frazier, Jr. v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0120132589 (Jan. 8, 2014).

Frazier previously engaged in certain EEOC protected activities in 2005 and 2007. See Am. Compl. 2. From his pleadings, it is unclear what those protected activities were. Frazier asserts that as a result of a settlement with the USPS, he was assigned limited duty on Route 1207 as his work assignment. See Compl. 2; Opp’n Mem. 8-9. During this time, Frazier was a letter carrier, where the job duties included “the delivery and collection of mail on foot or in a vehicle, requiring the ability to carry mail weighing up to 35 pounds in shoulder satchels or other equipment and to load or unload containers of mail weighing up to 70 [pounds].” Def.’s Mem. 3.[2] Due to the elimination of a route in Frazier’s unit, all junior routes had to be reposted and reassigned based on seniority. Id. As a result, an employee senior to Frazier bid on and received Route 1207. Id. at 4. Frazier thus became eligible to bid on a new route and on April 8, 2009, requested a temporary assignment to Route 1204, which he began on April 14, 2009. Id. While on temporary assignment to Route 1204, Frazier was given the opportunity to bid on a permanent route. Id. On August 3, 2009, he chose Route 236, which was located in a different unit from Route 1207 and 1204. Id.

During Frazier’s employment at the USPS in 2009, he was an employee “covered by the 2006-2011 National Agreement between the National Association of Letter Carriers (‘NALC’) and the USPS (‘National Agreement’) . . . .” Id. This agreement set forth certain rights and procedures for requesting a temporary or permanent light duty assignment, including that any such request requires medical documentation. Id. at 4-5. On October 14, 2009, Frazier submitted a “‘Preferred Assignment Multiple Bid Card, ’ where he requested that he keep his current assignment of Route 236, but wrote ‘with limited duty.’” Id. at 5 (citations omitted); see also Bid Card, Def.’s Mot., Ex. 16, ECF No. 20-18. Upon receipt of this submission, Vincent Clark, a USPS customer service manager, responded by letter dated October 15, 2009, to Frazier’s request and informed him that until his request for workers compensation benefits had been adjudicated by the Department of Labor, Frazier would have to request annual or sick leave. Id. (citing Frazier Dispute Doc. 12, Def.’s Mot., Ex. 3, ECF No. 20-5). In a letter dated October 26, 2009, Frazier “made a formal request for light duty assignment pending adjudication of his [worker’s compensation] claim.” Id. at 6 (citing Frazier Dispute Doc. 22). In a subsequent letter dated October 26, 2016, he requested to take administrative leave while his dispute was being resolved, which was denied. Id.; see also Frazier Dispute Doc. 19. During the time that Frazier was on leave, he did not work overtime. Clark EEO Aff. 3-4, Def.’s Mot., Ex. 5, ECF No. 20-7.

“Prior to requesting a light duty assignment, plaintiff submitted a Duty Status report, completed by his physician, to the United States Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Program [(the ‘Compensation Program’)].” Def.’s Mem. 6; see also Duty Status Report, Def.’s Mot., Ex. 15, ECF No. 20-17. This report, dated September 30, 2009, set forth Frazier’s work restrictions and compared these restrictions with the requirements of his letter carrier position. See Duty Status Report. As relevant here, the report stated that (i) Frazier could carry 10-50 pounds intermittently, although his position required carrying 35-70 pounds; (ii) Frazier could walk continuously for 2-4 hours per day, although his position required walking for 5-6 hours per day; and (iii) Frazier could climb intermittently for “as tolerable 1-2” hours per day, although his position required climbing intermittently 3 hours per day. See id.

Frazier’s Compensation Program claim was accepted on November 12, 2009. See Compensation Program Letter, Def.’s Mot., Ex. 17, ECF No. 20-19. In the letter accepting his claim, Frazier was informed that he may be eligible for continuation of pay with respect to lost time from work. Id.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Velencia v. Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md. Dec. 13, 2012). This rule’s purpose “‘is to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.’” Id. (quoting Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)). To that end, the Court bears in mind the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), when considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim for relief, ” as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. See Velencia, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (discussing standard from Iqbal and Twombly). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

When reviewing a motion to dismiss, “[t]he court may consider documents attached to the complaint, as well as documents attached to the motion to dismiss, if they are integral to the complaint and their authenticity is not disputed.” Sposato v. First Mariner Bank, No. CCB-12- 1569, 2013 WL 1308582, at *2 (D. Md. Mar. 28, 2013); see CACI Int'l v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 566 F.3d 150, 154 (4th Cir. 2009); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes.”). Moreover, where the allegations in the complaint conflict with an attached written instrument, “the exhibit prevails.” Fayetteville Investors v. Commercial Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1465 (4th Cir. 1991); see Azimirad v. HSBC Mortg. Corp., No. DKC-10-2853, 2011 WL 1375970, at *2-3 (D. Md. Apr. 12, 2011). If the documents that the Court considers exceeds this scope, the Court must treat the motion as a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Syncrude Canada Ltd. v. Highland Consulting Group, Inc., 916 F.Supp.2d 620, 623 (D. Md. 2013).

Here, both Defendant and Frazier attach voluminous exhibits to their filings. See Def.’s Mot.; Opp’n; Reply. These filings are integral to Frazier’s complaint in that they relate directly to his discrimination and retaliation claims. Frazier has not disputed the exhibits attached to Defendant’s motion and has referenced them throughout his opposition memorandum. He has also attached fifteen of his own exhibits. Therefore, it is appropriate for me to consider these exhibits if I treated Defendant’s motion as a motion to dismiss.

Alternatively, it also would be appropriate for me to consider these exhibits if I treated Defendant’s motion as a motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates, through “particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The existence of only a “scintilla of evidence” is not enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Instead, the evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which the finder of fact reasonably could find for the party opposing summary judgment. Id. &ldquo ...

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