critical because the direct conflict in testimony between
plaintiff and Griffin can only be resolved by determining the
credibility of these witnesses. Which witness is found to tell
the truth on this matter will then substantially resolve whether
the proffered basis for plaintiff's termination was pretextual.
It is well-established that resolving credibility questions is
beyond the province of the Court. See Greene v. Dalton,
164 F.3d 671, 674 (D.C.Cir. 1999) ("the credibility of a witness is
the exclusive domain of the finder of fact."). This rule applies
even assuming that plaintiff's letter is sufficient to disprove
plaintiff's sworn testimony at several points. See id. (truth
of statements by non-movant must be assumed "even when the court
entertains grave doubts about [the party's statements]."). Simply
put, having run into a credibility question, the Court must
consider the plaintiff's version of relevant events to be true.
Thus, for purposes of this motion, plaintiff has established that
he did take the crib up, and that he did not spill the coffee or
admit doing so (and thus, that defendant's witnesses are not
telling the truth on these points). As a consequence, both
plaintiff's prima facie case and proof of pretext are
In the face of this conclusion, the Court must deny defendant's
motion for summary judgment. Proof of pretext in a discrimination
case is of "considerable evidentiary significance" to the
ultimate question of intentional discrimination. Aka, 156 F.3d
at 1292. Together with a prima facie case of discriminatory
motivation, a finding that defendant's proffered reason is false
will generally be sufficient to justify submitting the case to
the trier-of-fact unless the evidence of pretext itself points to
a reason other than discrimination or if, in light of other
evidence in the record, no reasonable trier-of-fact could find
for the plaintiff. As example of the latter circumstance, the
D.C. Circuit pointed to a case where the employer's workforce had
a substantial number of employees of plaintiff's race and the
person alleged to have acted with discriminatory intent was also
of plaintiff's race.
Neither circumstances is present here. Plaintiff's evidence of
pretext consists of direct denials that he engaged in the conduct
alleged, and thus do not point to some reason other than
discrimination. Further, Jonak is Caucasian, not Vietnamese, and
there is no evidence of substantial numbers of Vietnamese in the
Inn's workforce. See Sechrist Dep. at 21-22 (indicating that
there were "two or three" Vietnamese workers in the housekeeping
Further, even if further evidence of discrimination is
required, summary judgment would not be warranted because there
is at least some additional evidence. Plaintiff has offered
evidence that, at least a week before his discharge, his working
hours per week were reduced and that other non-Vietnamese workers
also employed as Housemen but with less seniority were given more
hours than he was.
Defendant argues that the reduction in plaintiff's hours is not
evidence of racial discrimination because the employees who were
allegedly favored over him, Khalid Pervaid and Ikram Shah, were
both Pakistani and thus also members of a racial minority.
Defendant asserts that no inference of racial discrimination may
be drawn from discriminatory treatment between two racial
minorities, even if they are not the same race.
However, the cases defendant relies upon involved instances
where discharged minority employees were replaced not merely by
another minority but by one of identical race. See Pollard v.
Azcon Corp., 904 F. Supp. 762, 770 (N.D.Ill. 1995) (no inference
of discrimination where African-American replaced by another
African-American); Lawson v. Getty Terminals Corp., 866 F. Supp. 793,
802 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (same); see also Kidane, 41 F. Supp.2d
at 17 (plaintiff failed to raise inference of discrimination
because he was "replaced . . . by members of his own
race."). By contrast, at least one court in this Circuit has
found an inference of discrimination raised by the replacement of
one minority by another of a different race. See Dancy v.
American Red Cross, 972 F. Supp. 1, 3-4 (D.D.C. 1997) (inference
of discrimination raised where African-American was replaced by
Hispanic). This comports with the construction of the prima facie
test which many courts apply, requiring plaintiff to show that
the employer favored another person "outside the protected
class." See, e.g., Kalekiristos, 958 F. Supp. at 668. Therefore,
the Court rejects defendant's interpretation, and follows the
Dancy court in concluding that evidence that an employer
favored other racial minorities over Vietnamese does constitute
some evidence of unlawful discrimination.
Given this additional evidence and the substantial weight to be
accorded plaintiff's demonstration of pretext, the Court finds
that plaintiff has presented a sufficient case to defeat
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied. An
appropriate order will follow.