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JOHNSON v. DIGITAL EQUIP. CORP.

November 2, 1993

WILLIE L. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY SPORKIN

 In this action, brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 2000e et seq., the plaintiff, Willie L. Johnson, alleges that his former employer, Digital Equipment Corporation ("Digital") fired him from his sales position because of his race. Mr. Johnson is a black male. He was hired by Digital as a Senior Sales Representative in 1986 to sell Digital computer systems. Johnson was initially hired to work on the "large systems sales team" but was soon moved to a sales team which catered to the National Air and Space Administration ("NASA"). After two years on the NASA account, Johnson was given a number of less established "developmental accounts". Digital terminated Mr. Johnson's employment on September 10, 1991. The Court has before it Digital's Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Strike Evidence.

 Because Mr. Johnson has brought forward no competent evidence to support his claim that Digital's legitimate non-discriminatory reason for firing him was pretextual, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment.

 Summary Judgment Standards

 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment shall be rendered if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c). Mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading are not enough to prevent the issuance of summary judgment. The adverse party's opposition must be supported by affidavits or other competent evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e).

 The governing standards for the issuance of summary judgment were set by the Supreme Court in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 314 (1986). In Celotex, the Court explicitly recognized that a full-blown trial is a drain on resources to be avoided if and when the non-moving party's position cannot be substantiated through affidavit or other competent means:

 
Summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed "to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 1.
 
. . . .
 
Rule 56 must be construed with due regard not only for the rights of persons asserting claims and defenses that are adequately based in fact to have those claims and defenses tried to a jury, but also for the rights of persons opposing such claims and defenses to demonstrate in the manner provided by the Rule, prior to trial, that the claims and defenses have no factual basis.

 Id. at 327. (citation omitted).

 The plaintiff as the non-moving party is "required to provide evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to find" in its favor. Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 259 U.S. App. D.C. 115, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (citing Celotex, supra). For this case to go to trial, Mr. Johnson must provide evidence of his prima facie case which would be admissible at trial. Furthermore, if Digital provides adequate evidence that Johnson was terminated because of poor performance, Johnson must then bring forward evidence of the pretextual nature of the legitimate non-discriminatory purpose posited by defendant Digital. Evidence of discrimination that is "merely colorable", or "not significantly probative" cannot prevent the issuance of summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

 Evidence Put Forward by Plaintiff Johnson.

 Mr. Johnson claims that he was fired on the basis of his race. His allegations can be encapsulated in the four following statements:

 
1) Willie Johnson was an excellent salesman who performed well until he was replaced on a key account (the ...

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