that the plaintiff has presented evidence to sustain an inference
of pretext to the extent that Carroll Branscomb was ineligible
for the reassignment. Accordingly, the defendant's motion for
summary judgment will be denied insofar as the plaintiff alleges
a discriminatory or retaliatory failure to promote or reassign
her to the GS-334 computer specialist position in January 1994.
Having determined that paragraphs 6(g), (p) and (w) of the
complaint in part withstand the defendant's motion for summary
judgment, the court turns to consider the plaintiff's allegations
that she was subjected to a hostile work environment.
E. Hostile Work Environment
The defendant seeks summary judgment with respect to the
plaintiff's allegations that she was subjected to a hostile work
environment. The plaintiff alleges, at paragraphs 6(q), (r) and
(t) of the complaint, that Jim Wilkins, a white male co-worker,
subjected her to discriminatory and harassing treatment,
resulting in a race and sex based hostile work environment. She
alleges further that her supervisors did nothing to protect or
defend her. (Compl. ¶ 6(v).)
Title VII prohibits an employer from creating or condoning a
discriminatory hostile or abusive work environment. Meritor Sav.
Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 64, 106 S.Ct. 2399, 91 L.Ed.2d
49 (1986). Conduct that does not create a hostile or abusive
environment is beyond the purview of Title VII. Harris v.
Forklift Sys. Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21, 114 S.Ct. 367, 126 L.Ed.2d
295 (1993). The existence of a hostile environment depends on the
totality of the circumstances, including the frequency of the
discriminatory conduct, the severity of the conduct, whether the
conduct is physically threatening or humiliating or a mere
offensive utterance, and whether the conduct reasonably
interferes with the employee's work performance. Stoeckel v.
Environmental Management Sys., Inc., 882 F. Supp. 1106, 1114
(D.D.C. 1995) (citing Harris, 510 U.S. at 23, 114 S.Ct. 367). A
hostile work environment may be abusive to employees because of
their race, gender, religion, or national origin. Park, 71 F.3d
at 906 (quoting Harris, 510 U.S. at 23, 114 S.Ct. 367). This
court has specified that the requirements for a prima facie case
of hostile work environment based on sex or race are: (1) that
the plaintiff is a member of a protected class; (2) that the
plaintiff was subject to unwelcome harassment; (3) that the
harassment occurred because of the plaintiff's sex or race; (4)
that the harassment affected a term, condition or privilege of
employment; and (5) that the employer knew or should have known
of the harassment, but failed to take any action to prevent the
harassment. See Jones, 12 F. Supp.2d at 11 (citing Snowden v.
Kelso, II, 1996 WL 43549, *2 (D.D.C. Jan.31, 1996)); Brumback
v. Callas Contractors, Inc., 913 F. Supp. 929, 939 (D.Md. 1995);
Owens v. Fraser Pub. Sch., 1995 WL 871216, * 9 (E.D.Mich.
Oct.31, 1995); see also Villines v. United Brotherhood of
Carpenters, 999 F. Supp. 97 (D.D.C. 1998) (holding that a
plaintiff alleging a hostile work environment must demonstrate
the existence of respondeat superior liability); Faragher v.
City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 118 S.Ct. 2275, 2279, 141
L.Ed.2d 662 (1998) (holding that an employer's vicarious
liability for a hostile working environment is subject to an
affirmative defense looking to the reasonableness of the
Paragraphs 6(q), (r) and (t) of the complaint state,
respectively, in relevant part, that Jim Wilkins made unfavorable
remarks regarding the plaintiff's placement on a PIP, that Jim
Wilkins was instructed by Corpening to engage in "surveillance"
of the plaintiff, and that Jim Wilkins consistently made
unfavorable remarks to obstruct and discredit the plaintiff in
the performance of her job duties. In support of her claims, the
plaintiff recites a litany of events that she claims created a
hostile work environment. (See Childers's Depo.,
Vol. III at 29-33, 35-39, 44-47.) Notwithstanding the truth of
the alleged actions, the plaintiff has not demonstrated that any
of the conduct of which she complains was related to her sex or
race. Nor has the plaintiff established that any of conduct
complained of interfered with her work performance. Furthermore,
the plaintiff concedes that all of the alleged incidents involved
Jim Wilkins and has failed to demonstrate that her workplace was
permeated with discriminatory behavior. See Owens, 1995 WL
871216, *9 (concluding that one comment about "Buckwheat" did not
create an abusive environment); see also Snowden, 1996 WL
43549, *3 (concluding that no prima facie case was shown based on
shouting and pointing finger without evidence that conduct was
related to sex); Henry, 902 F. Supp. 245, 251 (D.D.C. 1995)
(concluding that one cartoon about depression was insufficient to
establish harassment based on disability).
Moreover, the record establishes that the plaintiff's employer
took corrective and preventative action against Jim Wilkins.
After the plaintiff brought Jim Wilkins's conduct to the
attention of her detail supervisor, Lantzy investigated the
allegations, determined that inappropriate comments had been made
by Jim Wilkins (but that such comments were neither sex nor race
based), wrote Jim Wilkins a letter of warning, and offered to
have Jim Wilkins write a letter of apology to the plaintiff.
(Decl. of Dave Lantzy ¶ 10; Def.'s Mot. for Summ.J., Ex. 7.)
Thus, a review of the record reveals a reasonable, adequate and
conciliatory effort by David Lantzy to identify, diffuse and
rectify the interpersonal discord between the plaintiff and Jim
Wilkins, thereby precluding the existence of respondeat
In sum, interpreting all facts in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff, the court rules that the plaintiff did not present
sufficient evidence to permit a jury to conclude that she was
subjected to a hostile work environment. Accordingly, the
defendant is entitled to summary judgment with respect to the
allegations in paragraphs 6(q), (r), (t) and (v) of the
The complaining party in a Title VII action can recover damages
as provided in 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a) and (b). Thus, the
court concludes that the defendant's motion for summary judgment
is premature with respect to the plaintiff's allegations of back
injury and other compensatory damages. Accordingly, the
defendant's motion for summary judgment will be denied in this
respect pending resolution of the plaintiff's surviving claims.
For the reasons set forth above, the court will grant in part
and deny in part the defendant's motion for summary judgment. An
appropriate Order directing the parties in a fashion consistent
with this Memorandum Opinion is separately and contemporaneously
executed and issued this 22nd day of March, 1999.