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Jimmy W. Sharp v. Patrick R. Donahoe

March 26, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry Alan Burns United States District Judge


After exhausting his administrative remedies by filing EEOC complaints that were dismissed, Plaintiff Jimmy Sharp filed this action for employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.

Sharp, an African-American man employed by the U.S. Postal Service, alleges he was not given an opportunity to apply for three work details, which eventually were given to three non-African-American women. He alleges the supervisors' motives in not giving him an opportunity to apply for these positions was discriminatory, based on his race and sex. AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT TO NAME PROPER DEFENDANT

The complaint initially named John E. Potter, Postmaster General, as Defendant, but Patrick R. Donahoe has held that position since the initiation of this action. Both parties list Donahoe's name in the caption as Defendant. Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d), strictly speaking, does not apply here because Potter never held the position of Postmaster General during the pendency of this action. But in keeping with the purpose of that provision, and because the parties do not dispute that Donahoe is the proper Defendant, the complaint is DEEMED AMENDED to substitute Patrick R. Donahoe as Defendant.


Donahoe has moved for summary judgment. arguing that Sharp was not asked to apply for the details and the three employees were selected for the details, all for nondiscriminatory reasons. Donahoe offers evidence in support of these contentions.

Legal Standards

Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). It is the moving party's burden to show there is no factual issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To meet this burden, it must show that the non-moving party lacks any evidence to support its claims. Id. at 325. And if it can make that showing, the non-moving party must respond with "specific facts" to show there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.

The Court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 531 (9th Cir. 2000). The Court does not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Rather, the Court determines whether the record "presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251--52. A mere scintilla of evidence is not sufficient to withstand summary judgment. Int'l Church of Foursquare Gospel v. City of San Leandro, 673 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252). Not all alleged factual disputes will serve to forestall summary judgment; they must be both material and genuine. Id. at 247--49.

Inadmissible evidence is not considered when ruling on a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Beyene v. Coleman Sec. Services, Inc., 854 F.2d 1179, 1181--82 (9th Cir.1988). Nor may a party resist summary judgment by relying on mere allegations or denials of the moving party's evidence. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

To establish a prima facie case of discrimination, Sharp must demonstrate (1) that he belongs to a protected class; (2) that he performed his job satisfactorily; (3) that he suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) that his employer treated him differently than a similarly situated employee who does not belong to the same protected class as he does. See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). See also Surrell v. Calif. Water Serv. Co., 518 F.3d 1097, 1105 (9th Cir. 2008) ("Typically, we apply the familiar McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework for Title VII . . . claims.")*fn1 If a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden of production (not persuasion) shifts to the defendant to offer a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802.

In Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 147 (2000), the Supreme Court held that, once the plaintiff had made out a prima facie case, the factfinder could infer intentional discrimination without additional proof if the factfinder found the employer's proffered nondiscriminatory reasons not credible. But even after Reeves, "at the summary judgment stage, a plaintiff may raise a genuine issue of material fact as to pretext via (1) direct evidence of the employer's discriminatory motive or (2) indirect evidence that undermines the credibility of the employer's articulated reasons." Noyes v. Kelly Servs., 488 F.3d 1163, 1170--71 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). In other words, if the Postmastert proffers nondiscriminatory reasons, Sharp must adduce evidence showing those reasons are pretextual. See Davis v. Team Elec. Co., 520 F.3d 1080, 1089 (9th Cir. 2008). If Sharp makes out a prima facie case and shows sufficient reason to disbelieve the employer's explanation, summary judgment must be denied. See Reeves, 530 U.S. at 140.

Factual Background

The following background facts are undisputed, except where a source is noted. While the Court has in some instances cited only evidence favorable to Sharp, it has considered all evidence the parties have cited. See Reeves, 530 U.S. at 149--150 (while court reviews the entire ...

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