United States District Court, D. Maryland
MYRON C. PAYNE Plaintiff,
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service, Defendant.
Xinis United States District Judge
before the Court in this employment discrimination suit is a
motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendant Postmaster General Megan Brennan
(ECF No. 28). The issues are fully briefed, and no hearing is
necessary. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons
stated below, Defendant's motion will be GRANTED.
Procedural and Factual
case was the subject of the Court's prior memorandum
opinion granting Brennan's motion to dismiss without
prejudice so that Payne could amend his Complaint to cure
pleading deficiencies. ECF Nos. 20, 21. Payne subsequently
filed an Amended Complaint, incorporating by reference the
factual allegations included in his initial Complaint.
See ECF No. 25 ¶ 1. Although Payne failed to
follow this Court's local rules with respect to filing an
Amended Complaint, the Court recognizes that Payne is
appearing pro se, and so will consider both the
original Complaint and the Amended Complaint in deciding the
began his USPS service as a letter carrier in 1987. ECF No. 1
¶ 14. In May 2005, Plaintiff suffered an on-the-job back
injury for which he filed a worker's compensation claim
and was placed on limited duty. The limited duty assignment
guaranteed Payne eight hours of medically approved modified
assignments per workday. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 15-16. In
December 2008, Payne's worker's compensation case was
closed, ending his limited-duty status. ECF No. 1
¶¶ 18-19. In May 2009, Payne received a letter from
one of his supervisors, Postmaster Darryl Jones, instructing
Payne to submit a request to be placed on light duty, which
Payne “reluctantly and involuntarily” submitted.
ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 19, 20. After being assigned to light
duty, Payne's work hours were reduced and subsequently
fluctuated between two and six hours per day without notice
or explanation. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 21, 23, 24, 25.
October 8, 2009, Plaintiff filed a grievance, challenging
USPS's insistence that Plaintiff submit a light duty
request and the reduction of his hours. ECF No. 1 ¶ 22.
Payne alleged that his work hours continued to fluctuate
between November 2009 and January 2010. On January 26, 2010,
Plaintiff filed an EEOC complaint alleging discrimination,
sexual harassment, and retaliation. ECF No. 1 ¶ 26.
Following discovery, USPS moved for summary judgment, which
the EEOC granted on June 6, 2013. More particularly, the EEOC
determined that Payne had not established that USPS
unlawfully discriminated against him. ECF No. 1 ¶ 27.
Payne then moved for reconsideration and appealed the EEOC
determination. The motion for reconsideration was denied and
the EEOC determination affirmed. ECF No. 1 ¶ 28.
then filed his initial Complaint in this Court on April 13,
2016, alleging claims of discrimination based on race, color,
age, and disability as well as sexual harassment and
retaliation. ECF No. 1. The Court granted USPS's motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim, but granted Payne
leave to amend the complaint. ECF Nos. 20, 21.
5, 2017, Payne amended his Complaint. As to Count I,
Payne's disability discrimination claim, Payne added
allegations of specific instances of mistreatment, including
USPS not modifying Payne's work assignments in writing,
denying Payne compensation by reducing his hours, coercing
Payne into signing a light duty assigned form, presenting
Payne with the ultimatum of working reduced hours in light
duty or “go home, ” and creating a hostile work
environment by “covertly retaliat[ing] against
plaintiff when complaints were initiated.” ECF No. 25
¶ 4. Payne also alleges that, because of his
disability, he was treated less favorably than other
employees. ECF No. 25 ¶ 5.
amendments to Count II, Payne's Title VII color
discrimination claim, are not altogether clear. Payne adds
that “all comparators are of fair or tan complexioned
[sic] and whose hours were not reduced or were in light-duty
status [sic], ” ECF No. 25 ¶ 9, which the Court
takes to mean that individuals whose complexions were lighter
than Payne's either did not have their hours reduced or
were not placed in light-duty status. Payne also alleges that
USPS did not make work available to him even though other
employees both in and out of light-duty status were being
given overtime work. ECF No. 25 ¶ 10.
adds to Count III, his age discrimination claim, the
following facts: that he was 50 years old at the time the
contested actions took place; that he was approximately five
years older than Jones; and that he was older than all
“comparators.” ECF No. 25 ¶ 11. He further
alleges that overtime and work assignments were given to
“the much younger comparators” despite Payne
previously completing the same tasks. ECF No. 25 ¶ 12.
IV, Payne's sexual harassment claim, is now based on his
supervisor Genese Rollins telling Payne to use his “big
arms” to move boxes, a task outside of Payne's
medically restricted abilities. ECF No. 25 ¶ 13, 14.
Payne alternatively asserts that this comment
“illustrates a certain apathy or disregard . . . [to]
Plaintiff's medical condition” even if it is not
sexual harassment. ECF No. 25 ¶ 14. It appears that
Payne complained internally about this comment, but that no
formal investigation occurred. Payne asserts that some time
afterward, “a letter of warning for poor attendance
against Plaintiff was issued by . . . Rollins.” ECF No.
25 ¶ 14. Payne does not allege to whom he made the
complaint about Rollins' comment, the contents of the
letter, or how the letter later was used by USPS.
Payne's Rehabilitation Act claim, Count V, Payne adds
that his supervisor, Annett Ford, suggested that Payne be
suspended for 14 days because he had engaged in a verbal
altercation with a coworker. Payne asserts that despite the
co-worker saying, “light-duty people need to get out of
here, ” and then engaging in a verbal altercation with
Payne, the coworker was not disciplined. ECF No. 25 ¶
16. Although Payne ultimately received a letter of warning,
not a suspension, ECF No. 25 ¶ 17, Payne asserts that
references to his potential suspension in the face of his
coworker receiving no discipline demonstrate that he was
subject to a hostile work environment due to his disability.
ECF No. 25 ¶ 17. Payne also asserts that he had been
harassed because his supervisor required that Payne provide
proof of his car trouble to substantiate Payne's claimed
reason for being absent from work. ECF No. 25 ¶ 18.
as to the retaliation claim, Count VI, Payne adds that his
change from limited to light duty, not receiving a permanent
work assignment in writing that comported with his medical
restrictions, and being told to “either work or go
home, ” constitutes retaliation. ECF No. 25 ¶ 20.
Payne also alleges that even after he prevailed in a
nonspecific “grievance, ” management did nothing
to address his concerns and spread “subtle
comments” about his performance. ECF No. 25 ¶ 21.
Payne further asserts, without amplification, that ...