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Canada v. McHugh

United States District Court, D. Alaska

April 27, 2016

WILLIAM LAWRENCE CANADA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN M. McHUGH, Secretary of the Army, Defendant.

ORDER RE SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SHARON L. GLEASON, District Judge.

This is an employment discrimination action brought by a self-represented litigant against his former employer. Before the Court at Docket 34 is Defendant John M. McHugh's Motion for Summary Judgment. The motion is unopposed; Plaintiff William Lawrence Canada did not file any response to the motion, although he had requested and received additional time to do so.[1] In early 2013, Mr. Canada was removed from his job at Fort Greely, Alaska where he had worked for the United States Army as an Alcohol and Drug Control Officer. He asserts a claim for wrongful termination, because his removal occurred after he filed an equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging age discrimination. He also asserts related claims for age discrimination and a hostile work environment.[2]

BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Mr. Canada's complaint is directed at the alleged conduct of Fort Greely's Deputy Garrison Commander and the alleged conduct of Mr. Canada's direct supervisor, the Human Resources (HR) Director. The trouble between Mr. Canada and his superiors appears to have begun in earnest when Mr. Canada "refused to plan with [the HR Director] to allow [a certain coworker] to urinalysis test [him] in [March, 2012]."[3] Mr. Canada acknowledges that his job required urinalysis testing, but asserts that he had "satisfied" that requirement with a "Pre-Employment urinalysis test, " and he refused the testing because he "had lost all faith in [the coworker's] integrity."[4] Mr. Canada also asserts that he had a conversation with an Army drug testing specialist who informed him that "there is no requirement by higher headquarters" for him to be urinalysis tested. Mr. Canada asserts that when he shared this information with the HR Director, she "became irate threatening me in an email with immediate discipline if I ever went over her head again to clarify anything with anyone."[5] Mr. Canada initiated EEO proceedings against the HR Director on or about June 26, 2012 with respect to these and other statements.[6]

The problems were exacerbated when Mr. Canada applied for a managerial vacancy in the summer of 2012. Mr. Canada asserts that both the Deputy Garrison Commander and the HR Director knew his age when they "made age discriminatory remarks against [him]... during their... recruitments for the [] vacancy."[7] Mr. Canada's complaint does not elaborate on the alleged remarks. However, Defendant recites some of the alleged comments in the motion for summary judgment and included a number of documents from Mr. Canada's EEO proceedings as exhibits to that motion. These exhibits include Mr. Canada's Formal Complaint of Discrimination filed with the Army's EEO office on August 3, 2012.[8] The facts gleaned from that document and from Mr. Canada's filings in this case, taken as true for the purposes of this summary judgment determination, are as follows:

• On May 15, 2012, when Mr. Canada refused to allow the coworker to conduct a urinalysis test on him, the HR Director twice told Mr. Canada, "Put on your Big Boy pants' and grow up."
• On May 24, 2012, when Mr. Canada again refused the urinalysis, the HR Director again twice told Mr. Canada, "Put on your Big Boy pants' and grow up" and he "told her that was offensive to [him], and asked her to stop saying that."
• On June 18, 2012, the HR Director told Mr. Canada "how extremely upset" she was for him "going over [her] head, " and issued him a "strong verbal warning of an impending letter of reprimand" if he did so again. When Mr. Canada asked during this exchange about the job vacancy "[the HR Director] sarcastically replied We're building a matrix to evaluate younger candidates.'"
• On July 17, 2012, at a meeting with Mr. Canada, the Deputy Garrison Commander, and the HR Director, the HR Director allegedly stated to Mr. Canada, "We have selected a younger candidate with more wealth and depth of experience with the Army who is more compatible with our leadership and mentoring styles."[9]

Sometime later that same year the HR Director gave Mr. Canada an Annual Performance Appraisal that rated him "Good." Mr. Canada believed he deserved a rating of "Exceptional."[10] At a meeting on December 12, 2012, with the Deputy Garrison Commander and the HR Director, Mr. Canada expressed his dissatisfaction with the rating and requested a "Change of Rater." Also at that meeting, Mr. Canada opined that the HR Director "appears to be suffering from late-phase alcoholism" and read from a document he had written about her "History and Symptoms." Mr. Canada asserts that the Deputy Garrison Commander then insisted that Mr. Canada give him the document, and Mr. Canada, indicating that he felt "bullied, " reluctantly gave him the document.[11] In the document, Mr. Canada made the following accusations about his direct supervisor:

• she engaged in "heavy drinking and hard partying;"
• "She really went crazy' drinking and partying after her divorce;"
• she had an extra-marital affair with a former Deputy ...

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