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Anderson v. U.S. Postal Service

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

August 22, 2019





         This matter pertains to Plaintiff Tonya M. Anderson's prior employment with Defendant U.S. Postal Service. (ECF No. 1). The action was initially filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, then transferred to the Northern District of Ohio. (ECF No. 3, 4). Plaintiff filed a motion to proceed with the case in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2); that motion is granted.

         For the reasons that follow, this action is dismissed.


         Plaintiff's Complaint is difficult to discern. She recounts her employment with Defendant beginning in 1991. Plaintiff alleges that she worked for Defendant on and off until she injured her ankle in 1993 while performing her job as a transitional employee carrier, and was told by her supervisor in September 1994 not to return to work. Plaintiff alleges that in July 1997, she was rehired by Defendant as a mail processor “for career” with benefits. Plaintiff claims she was written up, suspended, and escorted out of the building while performing her assignment. Plaintiff states that “you do not get laid off from a career.” She alleges that she took a test for a postal service “associate supervisor” which she passed, but as of February 2000, she has not been called back to work by Defendant. (Id. at 2-4). Attached to the Complaint are two letters from the Postal Service related to the associate supervisor test.[1] (Id. at 10-11).

         Plaintiff states in the Complaint that she filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) for discrimination and retaliation. Attached to the Complaint is a letter from the EEOC dated October 31, 2018. (Id. at 5-8). According to the letter, Anderson filed a charge against the Postal Service on February 9, 2018, alleging that the agency discriminated against her on the basis of race, national origin, sex, color, disability, age, and in reprisal for prior EEO activity when she took an associate supervisor test on or about December 23, 1997, and was not promoted to supervisor, and when she was terminated by the agency on or about February 13, 2000. (Id. at 5). Her EEOC claim was dismissed on the grounds that she failed to timely raise her allegations with an EEO counselor and no equitable tolling principles applied to extend the required 45-day EEO counselor contact period. The Commission alternatively dismissed her termination claim on the grounds that the same claim was raised in a prior claim and dismissed. (Id. at 6). Anderson asked the Commission to reconsider its decision, but did not present any new argument to establish that the 45-day period set by 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) should be extended. The Commission denied Anderson's motion for reconsideration and advised Anderson of her right to file a civil action in district court within 90 days. (Id.).

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff does not assert any legal claims regarding the factual allegations set forth therein. Rather, she concludes the Complaint by stating that she is “appreciative of these opportunities and to explain this situation as a postal employee.” (Id. at 4).


         A. Standard of Review

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, lacks an arguable basis in law or fact, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). While the court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998), the court is not required to conjure unpleaded facts or construct claims against a defendant on behalf of a pro se plaintiff. See Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 577 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277-78 (4th Cir. 1985).

         A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised upon an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The dismissal standard for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) governs dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks plausibility in the complaint. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 564. A plausible pleading must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief on the assumption that all of the allegations in the complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78.

         B. Analysis

         While the court is required to liberally construe the Complaint, it is not required to construct legal claims on behalf of a pro se plaintiff. Principles requiring generous construction of pro se pleadings does not require district courts to conjure questions never squarely presented or to construct claims from sentence fragments. Beaudett, 775 F.2d at 1277-78. To do so would require the court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff ... and transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest argument and most successful strategies for a party.” Id.; see also Erwin v. Edwards, 22 Fed.Appx. 579, 580 (6th Cir. 2001) (“Although liberal ...

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