defendants contend that Ms. Smith "verbally assaulted the female
cashier" and that during the course of the incident, Ms. Smith
"snatched the money she had paid, threatened to `kick the ass'
of the cashier, and further threatened to wait for her after
work to commit the assault." See Defs.' Opp'n at 12 (citing
Trejos Decl. at 2-3). Moreover, the defendants maintain that
even though a restaurant employee told Ms. Smith not to return
to the premises, she returned and had an argument the next day,
this time with the manager. See id.
Gloria Waul, a co-worker at the American Café and an
eyewitness, supports Ms. Trejos's version of the facts. In
addition, Ahmed Mohamed, the owner and operator of the
restaurant, states that although he did not observe the incident
firsthand, when he returned to the restaurant, Ms. Trejos was
"crying and shaken." See Mohamed Decl. at 1. He adds that
during the time he has known Ms. Trejos, "I have never known her
to curse or threaten anyone." See id. at 3.
After learning of the incident, Mr. Mohammed went to the
Coalition's office in the building to complain about the conduct
of the Coalition's employee. See id. at 2. Later that day, the
Coalition's representatives interviewed Mr. Mohammed and Ms.
Waul. The defendants explained that based on these interviews
with third-party witnesses, "the Coalition did the responsible
thing: it suspended Ms. Smith [without pay] pending an
investigation." See Defs.' Opp'n at 12. It also advised Ms.
Smith's counsel that it would welcome the opportunity to
interview her. According to the defendants, plaintiffs' counsel
did not respond to this request.*fn5 See id.
E. Requested Injunctive Relief
Based on their allegations, the plaintiffs ask the court to
order the Coalition to restore the work assignments which
prevailed before they filed this lawsuit and to allow the
remaining five plaintiffs (Elizabeth Lee, Tina Smith, Lee
Sutton, Marion Wilson, and Lanae McCollum) to complete their
work. Specifically, the plaintiffs move the court to prohibit
the defendants from reassigning work that was routinely
performed by the African-American remittance and data-entry
employees to any outside consultants, to salaried employees, or
to hourly white employees pending this suit's resolution. See
Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 2. "Unless Defendants show cause,
Plaintiffs should be entitled to work the original work schedule
of 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day (provided that there is work
available) and should be guaranteed a minimum of four hours pay
per [workday], in accordance with D.C. law." See id.
More-over, the plaintiffs ask the court to order the
reinstatement of plaintiff Tina Smith and to guarantee her a
minimum of four hours paid work per day. See Mot. for Prelim.
Inj., Pls.' Proposed Order.
In response, the defendant argues that the plaintiff has
failed to make the requisite showing to justify the court's
issuance of injunctive relief. With regard to every plaintiff
still employed by the Coalition except Tina Smith, the court
A. Legal Standard for Injunctive Relief
This court may issue a preliminary injunction only when the
movant demonstrates that:
(1) there is a substantial likelihood plaintiff will
succeed on the merits; (2) plaintiff will be
irreparably injured if an injunction is not granted;
(3) an injunction will not substantially injure the
other party; and (4) the public interest will be
furthered by an injunction.
Davenport v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 166 F.3d 356,
361 (D.C.Cir. 1999); see also World Duty Free Americas, Inc. v.
Summers, 94 F. Supp.2d 61, 64 (D.C. 2000). These four factors
are not considered in isolation from one another, and no one
factor is necessarily dispositive as to whether preliminary
injunctive relief is warranted. See CityFed Fin. Corp. v.
Office of Thrift Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 746 (D.C.Cir. 1995).
Rather, the factors "interrelate on a sliding scale and must be
balanced against each other."*fn6 Davenport, 166 F.3d at
361 (citing Serono Labs. v. Shalala, 158 F.3d 1313, 1317-18
(D.C.Cir. 1998)); see also WMATC v. Holiday Tours, Inc.,
559 F.2d 841, 842-43 (D.C.Cir. 1977) (court "examines each
requirement in light of the others to determine whether an
injunction would be proper").
Thus, a particularly strong showing on one factor may
compensate for a weak showing on one or more of the other
factors. See Serono Labs., 158 F.3d at 1318. For instance, as
to the first factor, "[t]he court is not required to find that
ultimate success by the movant is a mathematical probability,
and indeed, [the court] may grant [an injunction] even though
its own approach may be contrary to [the movants'] view of the
merits. The necessary `level' or `degree' of possibility of
success will vary according to the court's assessment of the
other factors." New Mexico v. Richardson, 39 F. Supp.2d 48, 50
(D.C. 1999) (quoting Holiday Tours, 559 F.2d at 843).
A strong showing of likely success on the merits may warrant
issuance of preliminary injunctive relief even if the plaintiff
makes a less compelling showing on the other three factors. See
Virginia Petroleum Jobbers Ass'n v. Federal Power Comm'n,
259 F.2d 921, 925 (D.C.Cir. 1958) ("injury held insufficient to
justify a stay in one case may well be sufficient to justify it
in another, where the applicant has demonstrated a higher
probability of success on the merits."); National Wildlife
Fed'n v. Andrus, 440 F. Supp. 1245, 1256 (D.C. 1977) (enjoining
further construction on dam power plant, despite dispute over
irreparable injury, because "the court is convinced by
plaintiffs' argument on the merits and therefore finds it
sufficient on the question of irreparable injury . . .").
If the plaintiff makes a particularly weak showing on one
factor, however, the other factors may not be enough to
"compensate." See Taylor v. RTC, 56 F.3d 1497, 1506
(D.C.Cir.), amended on other grounds on reh'g, 66 F.3d 1226
(D.C.Cir. 1995). It is particularly important for the plaintiff
to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the
merits. Cf. Benten v. Kessler, 505 U.S. 1084, 1085, 112 S.Ct.
2929, 120 L.Ed.2d 926 (1992) (per curiam); University of Texas
v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 394, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175
(1981); Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 934, 95 S.Ct.
2561, 45 L.Ed.2d 648 (1975). If the plaintiff fails to make this
showing, "it would take a very strong showing with respect to
the other preliminary injunction factors to turn the tide in
plaintiff['s] favor." Davenport, 166 F.3d at 366; see, e.g.,
National Pharm. Alliance v. Henney, 47 F. Supp.2d 37, 41 (D.C.
1999) ("Here, because the likelihood of success is slim,
plaintiffs would have to make a very substantial showing of
severe irreparable injury in order to prevail on their
motion."). Indeed, absent a "substantial indication" of likely
success on the merits, "there would be no justification for the
court's intrusion into the ordinary processes of administration
and judicial review." American Bankers Ass'n v. National Credit
Union Admin., 38 F. Supp.2d 114, 141 (D.C. 1999) (quoting
Holiday Tours, 559 F.2d at 843).
In addition, any injunction that the court issues must be
carefully circumscribed and tailored to remedy the harm shown.
See National Treasury Employees Union v. Yeutter,
918 F.2d 968, 977 (D.C.Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
Finally, because preliminary injunctions are extraordinary
forms of judicial relief, courts should grant them sparingly.
See Mylan Pharms., Inc. v. Thompson, 139 F. Supp.2d 1, 17
(D.C. 2001) (Urbina, J.); Moore v. Summers, 113 F. Supp.2d 5,
17 (D.C. 2000). Although the trial court has the discretion to
issue or deny a preliminary injunction, it is not a form of
relief granted lightly. See Ambach v. Bell, 686 F.2d 974, 979
(D.C.Cir. 1982). As the Supreme Court has said, "[i]t frequently
is observed that a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary
and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the
movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion."
Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972, 117 S.Ct. 1865, 138
L.Ed.2d 162 (1997).
B. Injunctive-Relief Analysis
In this case, the court determines that all the plaintiffs
except Ms. Smith make a strong showing on all four factors that
the court must consider in the injunctive-relief analysis. In
short, the plaintiffs have shown that they are likely to prevail
on the merits of their case, they would suffer irreparable harm
if an injunction is not issued, the balance of the equities
favors the plaintiffs, and issuance of a preliminary injunction
would serve the public interest.
1. The Plaintiffs Have a Strong Likelihood of Success on the
In their motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs
argue that they have a strong likelihood of success on the
merits of their unlawful-retaliation claim.