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United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
February 18, 2022, Decided
GELPÍ, Circuit Judge. Plaintiff-Appellant Deon Fincher ("Fincher") appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant-Appellee, the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts ("the Town" or "Brookline") on his claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for discrimination on the basis of race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We conclude that the grant of summary judgment was proper and correspondingly affirm the decision of the district court.
We begin by summarizing the relevant facts related to Fincher's employment with the Town. Fincher was employed by Brookline in the Department of Public Works ("DPW") beginning in September of 2009 when he was hired as a Laborer. The Town described the Laborer job as a nonskilled, entry-level position within the DPW. There are five divisions within the DPW: Administration, Engineering and Transportation, [*2] Highway and Sanitation, Parks and Open Space, and Water and Sewer. Fincher's employment at all relevant times was within the Highway and Sanitation Division. He worked in Sanitation for most of his employment with the Town. During his employment, Fincher was one of only two Black employees in the Highway and Sanitation Division, out of approximately seventy total employees.
The Sanitation division's primary role is to collect garbage and other waste from fixed routes in Brookline. The Laborer position required the ability to lift and move items weighing up to 100 pounds, although the need to lift items that heavy was infrequent. Laborers were, as a matter of course, required to lift thirty to fifty pounds easily. In order to advance within the Sanitation division, it was necessary to obtain a Commercial Driver's License ("CDL"), which allowed employees to drive large trucks, such as the garbage truck, also called a packer truck. Each packer truck had a driver paired with a "packer" on the back of the truck. The packer's job was to pick up barrels and throw trash into the truck along the route, while the driver drove the truck and assisted the packer in throwing trash when possible. [*3] Though Motor Equipment Operator-2s ("MEO-2s") were primarily assigned as packers, Laborers were assigned to the packer position as needed when MEO-2s were not available because the division was short-staffed or the MEO-2s were needed elsewhere.
Fincher did not have a CDL while working for the Town and did not attempt to obtain one. Therefore, he remained classified as a Laborer throughout his period of employment. It was generally understood that the Laborer position required "[s]trenuous physical effort" and it was advertised as such.
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2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 4491 *; 26 F.4th 479; 2022 WL 500094
Deon Fincher, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. Town of Brookline, Defendant, Appellee.
Prior History: [*1] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. George A. O'Toole, Jr., U.S. District Judge.
Fincher v. Town of Brookline, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64081, 2021 WL 1209744 (D. Mass., Mar. 31, 2021)
termination, lifting, similarly situated, restrictions, accommodate, packer, reasonable accommodation, throwing, trash, truck, return to work, summary judgment, argues, pounds, disability retirement benefits, statute of limitations, district court, right shoulder, accidental, assigned, recommended, rights
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