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Date: 04-10-2023

Case Style:

Patricia Levine v. Louis Dejoy

Case Number: 1:20-cv-1208

Judge: Paul Lewis Maloney

Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan (Kent County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Carolyn A. Almassian

Description: Grand Rapids, Michigan civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued Defendants on a job discrimination theory.

In April 2015, Levine applied for the position of supervisor of customer services at the main post office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. USPS did not select Levine for the position. Instead, it hired a white employee whom Levine alleges was significantly less qualified than Levine.

USPS disputes Levine’s allegations that the failure to hire her was racially

The parties dispute the position’s requirements. Although the parties agree that experience supervising retail operations would be relevant to a candidate’s application, they disagree as to the relevance of experience supervising postal carriers. According to the job posting and job description, supervisors of customer services supervise carriers and carrier activities. However, when USPS posted the position, the main post office did not have carrier units. Pointing to that fact, Levine contends that the job posting and job description were generic, and that a “successful candidate” for the main post office position “would only supervise a retail unit, i.e., the counter line at the [main post office] plus the two satellite retail stations that reported to the [main post office].” Appellant’s Br. at 6–7.

Ultimately, fifteen candidates, including Levine, applied for the position. A threemember review committee evaluated those applicants’ written applications and referred five candidates to Theresa Mullins, the selecting official and Postmaster General for Grand Rapids. After interviewing those five candidates, Mullins selected Kathleen Peare for the position. Both Mullins and Peare are white

When Levine applied for the position, she had worked for USPS for over 27 years. During those nearly three decades, she held a variety of positions. Notably, Levine had extensive and apparently successful retail experience. For example, she ran Grand Rapids’ Eastown Stations Retail Unit for several years. During that time, her unit earned perfect scores
for four consecutive years when “mystery shopped,” which is where a “mystery shopper” reports to USPS about the quality of service provided by the USPS retail employees. Mystery shopping is the only independent measure of retail unit performance that USPS uses.

Later in her career, the main post office retail supervisor abruptly retired and USPS asked Levine to serve as acting supervisor because she could “step into the position immediately without training . . . .” Levine Decl., R. 79-3, Page ID #510; see also Appellee’s Br. at 11. While serving in that position, Levine’s unit earned a perfect mystery shopper score. Levine believes that the perfect score was a first in the unit’s history. She left that position only because
her daughter became ill. Beyond Levine’s objective success as a retail supervisor, the record includes other indicators of success: that her manager recommended her highly; that she trained clerks on retail operations throughout Grand Rapids; and that Mullins asked Levine to train Peare after Peare received the position for which both Levine and Peare had competed. Two other elements of Levine’s application stand out. First, in addition to her professional experience,
Levine possesses three post-secondary degrees: an associate degree in accounting; a bachelor’s degree in business and management; and a Master of Business Administration degree. Second, Levine lists seven different awards from USPS that she received throughout her career.According to Mullins, Levine’s interview indicated that while Levine is “very likable,” she might be too accommodating of a supervisor. Mullins Dep., R. 77-1, Page ID #441.
Specifically, Mullins expressed concern that Levine did not detail how she would hold employees “accountable.” Id. Importantly, Mullins purports to have reached that conclusion based upon Levine’s interview, not her historical on-the-job performance.

Outcome: Defendant's motion for summary judgment granted.

Reversed by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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