United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
SHERYL H. LIPMAN, District Judge.
Before the Court are the Magistrate Judge's Reports and Recommendations addressing the Defendant's two motions for partial summary judgment in these three consolidated cases. (ECF Nos. 36 and 43.) Isaac Lee Hykes ("Mr. Hykes" or "Plaintiff") sued defendants Timothy F. Geithner ("Mr. Geithner") and Jacob J. Lew ("Mr. Lew" or "Defendant"), for violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant moved for summary judgment on January 31, 2014, in case number 11-2720. (ECF No. 25.) Prior to issuing her Report and Recommendations on that motion, the Magistrate Judge granted Defendant's motion to consolidate the cases on February 19, 2014. (ECF No. 28.) The Magistrate Judge then recommended granting the initial motion for summary judgment. (Report & Recommendation on Def.'s First Mot. for Summ. J. ("Rep. & Recommendation I"), ECF No. 36.) The Plaintiff filed a timely objection. (ECF No. 38.) Shortly after the Magistrate Judge issued her Report and Recommendation, the Defendant filed a Second Motion for Summary Judgment for Case Nos. 13-2264 and 14-2035, which had since been consolidated with 11-2720. (ECF No. 37.) The Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to the Second Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 40.) After Defendant filed his reply (ECF No. 42), the Magistrate Judge issued her Report and Recommendation recommending granting the Second Motion for Summary Judgment. (Report & Recommendation on Def.'s Second Mot. for Summ. J. ("Rep. & Recommendation II"), ECF No. 43.) Plaintiff timely objected. (ECF No. 44.) Defendant filed a timely response in support of the second Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 45.)
For the reasons set forth below, both of the Magistrate Judge's Reports and Recommendations are hereby ADOPTED. Defendant's motions for summary judgment are GRANTED.
I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Mr. Hykes is an African-American man who alleged in each of his complaints that his employer, the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), discriminated against him on the basis of his sex, created a hostile work environment, and retaliated against him for filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In his third complaint, Mr. Hykes also alleged that he was discriminated against based on his race. The discriminatory actions allegedly occurred while Mr. Hykes worked for the IRS in Memphis, Tennessee, as a Clerk, GS-0303-4, in the Power of Attorney and Centralized Authorization Filing ("POA/CAF") unit, Wage and Investment Division. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 2, ECF No. 37-2.) The POA/CAF unit receives documents in various forms from taxpayers who designate representatives through power of attorney to advocate on their behalf. (Id. at ¶ 7.) The POA/COF's duties, which were rotated among the employees in the unit, included processing 24-hour and 48-hour faxes that needed to be completed before 4 p.m. each day. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Mr. Hykes worked the noon to 8:30 p.m. shift, but management adjusted his schedule during the spring and fall to work from 1:30 to 10 p.m. so that he could attend school. (Id. at ¶ 8.)
Mr. Hykes filed his first lawsuit on August 23, 2011, stemming from allegations made in EEO Complaint No. EEODFS07-322-F. (Id. at ¶ 3.) In that complaint, Mr. Hykes alleged the agency harassed him on the basis of his sex and in reprisal for prior protected EEO activity. Mr. Hykes alleged that his manager issued him an unfair performance review, giving him a 4.00 rating of "meets expectations" instead of the 5.00 rating of "exceeds expectations." (ECF No. 1-1 at 3.) He also alleged that he was assigned more difficult work than the female employees in his unit. (Id. at 4.) An Administrative Judge found that Mr. Hykes failed to show he was discriminated against, a decision affirmed by the EEOC Office of Federal Operations ("OFO"). See Hykes v. Geithner, 2010 WL 3939952 (Office of Fed. Operations, Sep. 27, 2010). The OFO found that Mr. Hykes established a prima facie case of sex and reprisal discrimination, but failed to provide any evidence that showed management's non-discriminatory explanations were pretext for unlawful discrimination based on sex or reprisal. Id. at *6. The EEOC denied Mr. Hykes's request for reconsideration. (ECF 1-1 at 3.) In his appeal to this Court, in addition to the unfair performance review allegation, Mr. Hykes alleged that on three occasions Angela Echols ("Echols"), his supervisor, manipulated his workload to be double and triple the amount of his female co-workers and that she also manipulated the work assignments so that he received more complex work than his female co-workers. (ECF No. 22 at 3.)
Mr. Hykes was denied a request to amend his original EEO complaint to include additional allegations that formed the basis for some of his subsequent complaints against his agency. (ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3.) Mr. Hykes included some of those additional allegations in the subsequent lawsuits he filed against Defendant. In his second lawsuit, Mr. Hykes alleged that, based on his gender and prior EEO complaints, his managers denied his request to take 5.5 hours of sick leave on November 28, 2007; on January 10, 2008, management unfairly issued him a written directive to change his input duty day to January 11, 2008; and, from January 14 to 17, 2008, he was assigned to Form 3210 duties, which he claims were more difficult than the duties assigned to his co-workers. (Case No. 13-2264, ECF No. 1 at 3.) In his third lawsuit, Mr. Hykes alleged that, based on his race, gender, and prior EEO activity, management manipulated the work assignments to give him more complex and time-consuming work than his female counterparts on May 22 and July 2, 2007. (Case No. 14-2035, ECF No. 1 at 3.)
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A Magistrate Judge may submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of a motion for summary judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). "A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn , 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985). After reviewing the evidence, the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id . When neither party objects to the Magistrate Judge's factual or legal conclusions, the district court need not review those findings under a de novo or any other standard. Thomas , 474 U.S. at 150.
The Court has consolidated the Magistrate Judge's two Reports and Recommendations below in its analysis of Plaintiff's objections to both the findings of fact and the conclusions of law, as Mr. Hykes repeats many of the same contentions in his objections to both of the documents.
A. Findings of Fact
Plaintiff has raised several objections to the Magistrate Judge's findings of fact from both of her Reports and Recommendations, few of which actually challenge the factual findings, instead simply disagreeing with them. Because Plaintiff has failed to establish genuine questions of material fact, the Court hereby ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's findings.
In his objections to the Magistrate Judge's first Report and Recommendation, the Plaintiff challenged the finding that the performance evaluation rating of 4.00 indicates an employee "Exceeds Fully Successful" and is the second highest possible rating an employee can receive. (Pl.'s Objs. to Mag. J.'s Rep. & Recommendation, ECF No. 38 at 3.) The source of Mr. Hykes's objection lies not in the fact that this is an inaccurate factual description of the evaluation rating, but rather he contends that the 4.00 rating made him "less competitive and the inability to compete equally' for promotions, other jobs and selections, Quality Step Increases (QSI), Reduced In Force (RIF), Best Qualified (BQ)." (Id.) Mr. Hykes, in other words, is arguing that the ...