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RICHARD v. BELL ATLANTIC CORP.
September 14, 2001
IRIS RICHARD ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
BELL ATLANTIC CORP. ET AL., DEFENDANTS. RENEE ARRINGTON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS, V. BELL ATLANTIC CORP. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
ON ALL CLAIMS OF PLAINTIFF CAROLYN GREEN
These race-discrimination and retaliation cases began with 132 current
and former employees of Bell Atlantic Corp. (now Verizon) suing their
employer and its subsidiaries (collectively, "the defendants" or "Bell
Atlantic") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
Although the court has not consolidated these two cases, they have been
mediated together and briefed together because of the similarity in
claims, counsel, and parties.*fn1 Through the diligence and persistence
of the parties, the lawyers, and alternative dispute resolution, only
three plaintiffs remain in the case.
The defendants have filed motions for summary judgment against all
three remaining plaintiffs. In this case, the defendants move for
summary judgment on all claims of Carolyn Green ("the plaintiff" or "Ms.
Green"). For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the
defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Carolyn Green has worked for Bell Atlantic-Maryland, Inc. (" Bell
Atlantic") from October 26, 1977 until the present. See Mot. for Summ.
J. at 3. She began as a directory assistance operator, received a
promotion to customer service representative in 1979, and remained in that
position until 1986, when she received a promotion to Frame Attendant.
See id. On February 25, 1990, Ms. Green received a promotion to Central
Office Technician ("COT"), and on June 29, 1997, she received a promotion
to Engineering Assistant. See id. On December 1, 1999, the company
promoted her to management (Specialist), where she currently remains. See
In April 1991, the company assigned Ms. Green, then a COT, to the Voice
Mail crew, which maintains and monitors the company's voice-mail system.
See Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. In February 1996, Bell Atlantic manager
Peter Bogdan made the decision to reassign Ms. Green from the Voice Mail
crew to the Electronic Switching Team ("5ESS team"). See id. at 4. The
parties offer different reasons from Mr. Bogdan's decision. The plaintiff
charges that "unlike similarly situated white associates in Ms. Green's
workgroup, she was not asked whether or not she would voluntarily accept
reassignment to the electronic switching system team. . . ." See Pl.'s
Statement of Material Facts As to Which There Are Genuine Disputes
("Pl.'s Statement") at 1.
Ms. Green makes a number of allegations against Bell Atlantic. First,
she claims she was segregated from her white co-workers, and excluded
from company parties, anniversaries of co-workers, and recognition
breakfasts. See Pl.'s Statement at 2. Second, Ms. Green claims she
requested but was denied on-the-job training. See id. Third, she alleges
that the company retaliated against her when Mr. Bogdan involuntarily
transferred her to the 5ESS team. See id. Fourth, Ms. Green claims the
company denied her equal access to the tools and facilities associated
with her job, such as a personal computer and, in some instances, a desk
phone. She also states she was not given a key to the "quiet room" at her
work location. See id. at 3. Fifth, she asserts that the company denied
her both regular and emergency overtime that was given to similarly
situated white employees. See Pl.'s Statement at 4. Sixth, Ms. Green
claims that Bell Atlantic falsely evaluated her by rating her as an
employee who only "meets some" requirements in several categories in her
1995 year-end performance appraisal. See id. Seventh, she claims she
applied for more than 200 positions but was unfairly denied promotions.
See id. at 5. Lastly, she alleges that the combination of many of these
things subjected her to a hostile work environment. See Pl.'s Opp'n to
Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 8.
The defendant denies all the allegations. In terms of Ms. Green's
attempts to obtain a promotion, the company states that before it
eliminated the Business Management Abilities Test ("BMAT") in May 1998,
Ms. Green had taken the test several times and never earned a qualifying
score. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 5. The company notes that it promoted
Ms. Green to the management position of Specialist on December 1, 1999.
See id. The company also points out that of the "103 positions which
Green sought that were filled by someone other than Green, 27% of the
placements were African-American." See id.
The defendants now move for summary judgment on all the claims of Ms.
Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C.
Cir. 1995). To determine what facts are "material," a court must look to
the substantive law on which each claim rests. See Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose
resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and,
therefore, affect the outcome of the action. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at
322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
In addition, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or
conclusory statements. See Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 674 (D.C.
Cir. 1999). Rather, the nonmoving party "must come forward with specific
facts" that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. See
id. at 675. If the evidence "is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477
U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted). Finally, the D.C. Circuit has
directed that because it is difficult for a plaintiff to establish proof
of discrimination, the court should view summary-judgment motions in such
cases with special caution. See Aka v. Washington Hosp. Ctr.,
116 F.3d 876, 879 (D.C. Cir. 1997); see also Johnson v. Digital Equip.
Corp., 836 F. Supp. 14, 18 (D.D.C. 1993).
B. The McDonnell Douglas Framework
To prevail on a claim of race discrimination or retaliation under Title
VII, a plaintiff must follow a three-part burden-shifting analysis. See
McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). The Supreme Court
explained this scheme as follows: First, the plaintiff has the burden of
proving by the preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of
discrimination. Second, if the plaintiff succeeds in proving the prima
facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant `to articulate some
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection.'
Third, should the defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff must then
have an opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the
legitimate reasons offered by the defendant were not its true reasons,
but were a pretext for discrimination. . . . The ultimate burden of
persuading the trier of fact that the defendant ...
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