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WALKER v. DALTON

March 10, 2000

SIDNEY WALKER, PLAINTIFF,
V.
JOHN H. DALTON, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kennedy, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Sidney Walker, an African-American employee of the Navy's Public Works Center ("PWC"), proved to an administrative law judge that the Navy had racially discriminated against him in denying him a promotion. The Navy adopted the administrative law judge's finding and agreed to provide plaintiff certain relief, including back pay. The Navy provided plaintiff approximately seventeen thousand dollars in back pay. Plaintiff filed this suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended ("Title VII"), alleging, inter alia, that he is entitled to additional back pay. Presently before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment on the ground that the Navy has paid plaintiff all of the back pay to which he is entitled.*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

In 1993, plaintiff Sidney Walker applied for, and was denied, a WS-10 Maintenance Supervisor I position ("WS-10 position") with the PWC. Later that year, plaintiff filed an EEO complaint against the Navy asserting that his non-selection for a WS-10 position resulted from racial discrimination. After hearing evidence, an administrative law judge determined that the Navy had discriminated against plaintiff in denying him the WS-10 position. In 1995, the Navy adopted as its Final Decision the administrative law judge's finding that plaintiff had been discriminated against with respect to the WS-10 position. The Navy agreed to provide to plaintiff certain "make whole" relief including a promotion to a position that was substantially similar to the WS-10 position that plaintiff was discriminatorily denied, back pay, and attorney's fees.

In 1996, the Navy promoted plaintiff to the WS-10 level, and plaintiff held a series of WS-10 Maintenance Supervisor I positions with the PWC. The Navy also awarded plaintiff back pay at the WS-10 rate for the hours that plaintiff had actually worked from September 9, 1993 until March 19, 1996.*fn2 Cynthia Elliott, a Payroll Technician for the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), calculated the award.*fn3 Ms. Elliott described her method as follows:

I first obtained the records of what Mr. Walker had actually been paid for that time period. I then performed handwritten calculations determining what Mr. Walker would have been paid for each pay period if he had been a WS-10. The pay calculation includes the actual overtime, hazard differentials, Sunday and Holiday premiums and any other differentials which Mr. Walker earned for each pay period. Each pay period reflected the effective rates which were applicable at that time.*fn4

Based on Ms. Elliott's calculations, defendant awarded plaintiff a total of $17,836.05 in back pay.*fn5

In 1997, plaintiff filed suit in this court alleging that none of the WS-10 Maintenance Supervisor I positions that he had been given after prevailing on his EEO complaint were substantially similar to the WS-10 position that he had been denied, and that the Navy had not provided in full the back pay and attorney's fees to which he was entitled.*fn6 In 1998, Judge Harold Greene heard evidence regarding the "substantially similar position" issue. Concluding that the Navy had not placed plaintiff in a substantially similar position, Judge Greene, in an order dated September 10, 1998 (the "Order"), commanded the Navy to place plaintiff in a substantially similar position.*fn7 On November 10, 1998, defendant filed a response to the Order in which it offered plaintiff a choice of three WS-10 positions. Plaintiff objected, stating that none of these positions was substantially similar to the position to which he was entitled. After hearing evidence, this court found that one of the positions offered was substantially similar to the position to which plaintiff was entitled, and that defendant thus had complied with the Order.*fn8

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Summary Judgment

Under Rule 56, a motion for summary judgment should be granted if and only if it is shown "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party's "initial responsibility" consists of "informing the [trial] court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted).

If the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). 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, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C.Cir. 1987). Such evidence must consist of more than mere unsupported allegations or denials and must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 n. 3, 106 S.Ct. 2548. If the evidence is "merely colorable" or "not significantly probative," summary judgment may be granted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

B. De Novo Review v. Deferential Review

In determining whether defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the court must first determine whether it should give any deference to defendant's calculation of the back-pay award. Plaintiff contends that the back-pay award should be reviewed de novo, while defendant asserts that the back-pay award is agency action that should be reviewed under the deferential "rational basis" standard and upheld unless it is "arbitrary and capricious." Def.'s Mem. Support Mot. Summ.Judg. at 6. Defendant's position is based on the notion that, because Mr. Walker prevailed at the administrative ...


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