The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lamberth, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Marnie Russ has filed suit against defendants Van
Scoyoc Associates, Inc. and the President of Van Scoyoc
Associates, H. Stewart Van Scoyoc, charging that she was sexually
harassed, discriminated against on the basis of her gender,
constructively discharged and retaliated against in violation of
Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the D.C. Human Rights
Act (DCHRA), D.C.Code § 1-2501 et seq. Defendants have moved
for summary judgment on all counts. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the
In October of 1997, Ms. Russ was told that another firm had a
similar position open which paid $35,000. Ms. Russ told Ms.
Buckley about the other firm's offer and was told that if she
stayed with Van Scoyoc Associates, she would "be where she wanted
to be" after her year-end salary increase. Ms. Russ believed this
to mean that she would receive a raise, making her salary
$35,000, after her year-end review. She also was informed that
she would receive a 10% bonus.
On December 8, 1997, Jan Schoonmaker, a Vice President at Van
Scoyoc Associates, asked Ms. Russ to help him prepare for a
meeting for which he was running late. As she was helping him, he
noticed that some papers were missing. He became irate and, while
brandishing a stack of papers at her, made a number of derogatory
remarks about her abilities. These facts form the basis for the
plaintiff's first count. See Complaint ¶ 134-35.
The next day, December 9, 1997, Van Scoyoc Associates had its
annual Holiday party at the Old Ebbitt Grill. During the party,
several people became very intoxicated, including a Vice
President, Paul Grimm. After the party ended at approximately 3
p.m., Mr. Stewart Van Scoyoc told the employees that no one had
to return to work that day. A number of people, including Mr.
Grimm and Ms. Russ, went to the Bottom Line, a bar, to continue
socializing. While at the Bottom Line, Mr. Grimm sympathized with
Ms. Russ's recent encounter with Mr. Schoonmaker and offered to
have her work for him in the future. Then, as the day worn on, he
began making a number of sexually explicit and offensive remarks
to Ms. Russ, telling her that he admired her breasts, that he
wanted to have sex with her, that he wanted to perform oral sex
upon her, and that "she could make more money working at Hooters
than at Van Scoyoc Associates." This continued for some time
until Ms. Russ left the bar.
Ms. Russ then reported the conduct of Mr. Grimm to her office
manager, Ms. Haley. Ms. Haley then reported the event to Ms.
Buckley, who reported the event to Mr. Van Scoyoc. On December
12, 1997, Ms. Russ spoke with Mr. Van Scoyoc about the incidents
involving Mr. Schoonmaker and Mr. Grimm. Mr. Van Scoyoc told her
to be tolerant of Mr. Schoonmaker because he has "nothing outside
of his work". Plaintiff's Opposition, Ex. 3 Van Scoyoc Deposition
at 46. He also told Ms. Russ that Mr. Grimm was having marital
problems and that it would be better if his wife did not find out
about the incident at the Bottom Line.
Later that day, Ms. Russ was told that her raise would only
bring her salary to $32,000 and her bonus would be only 6%, not
the $35,000 salary she believes she was promised, nor the 10%
The following Monday, December 15, Ms. Russ met again with Mr.
Van Scoyoc and attempted to resign. Mr. Van Scoyoc refused to let
her resign, instead giving her an extended vacation and flying
her home to visit her family in Montana. He told her that they
could discuss her situation in the New Year.
When Ms. Russ returned from vacation, she, Mr. Van Scoyoc, and
Ms. Buckley scheduled a meeting for January 6, 1998. When Ms.
Russ went to this meeting, she brought along an attorney, Claude
Convisser, to negotiate the terms of her return to Van Scoyoc
Associates. However, when Mr. Van Scoyoc saw that Ms. Russ
brought counsel to the meeting, he became upset and abruptly
ended the meeting. Ms. Buckley asked Ms. Russ to hand over her
keys to the office and to leave the building.
Ms. Russ filed this action against Van Scoyoc Associates and
Mr. Van Scoyoc personally on December 28, 1998. Mr. Van Scoyoc
previously filed a motion to dismiss the claims with respect to
him, which was granted for the claims arising under Title VII and
a constructive discharge theory and denied for the claims under
DCHRA. Thus, the only remaining claim against Mr. Van Scoyoc
personally is Count IV, the constructive discharge claim. A
motion to dismiss the constructive discharge claim filed by Van
Scoyoc Associates was also denied. See Russ v. Van Scoyoc
Associates, Inc., 59 F. Supp.2d 20 (D.D.C. 1999).
II. Count I — Sex Discrimination Based on Mr. Schoonmaker's
December 8 Conduct.
Ms. Russ alleges that Mr. Schoonmaker's conduct on December 8,
1997, when he yelled at her and brandished a stack of papers at
her, constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. To
prevail on a sex discrimination charge, a plaintiff must show
that not only that she is a member of a protected class, and that
similarly situated individuals who are not a member of a
protected class were treated differently, but also that the
plaintiff suffered some adverse employment action. See, ...