Compl. ¶ 63. In January 1999, the plaintiff received the
second-highest rating of "commendable overall." The plaintiff
alleges that the defendant made negative comments in the
"Performance Improvement Plan" section of the evaluation. See
Carter Dep. at 219. The plaintiff complained about these
comments and her supervisor, Mr. Betts, crossed them out and
initialed the change. See Pl.'s Opp'n, Carter Aff.Ex. F at 9.
C. Breach of Contract
The plaintiff alleges that she had a contract with the
university based on the employment manual given to her during
her employment. See Compl. ¶ 73. The defendant disagrees,
noting that the George Washington University Manual of Personnel
Policies contains the following disclaimer: "The personnel
policies of the University do not constitute or reflect terms of
a contract between the University and any employee. . . ."
Def.'s Mot. for Summ.J.Ex. 17. The manual also contains a
statement of at-will employment: ". . . Employment at the
University is not for a definite time and may be terminated at
the will of the employee or the University at any time. . . ."
D. Constructive Discharge
On or about February 23, 1999, the plaintiff submitted a
letter of resignation from her position as the Director of
Reunion and Events after being on medical leave for two months.
See Def.'s Mot. for Summ.J.Ex. 8. In the letter, she expressed
her appreciation for having the opportunity to work at GWU and
also wished success to the Office of Alumni Relations. See id.
The plaintiff now claims that she was constructively discharged
because her doctor recommended that she not return to that
department and the defendant refused to transfer her or grant
her a leave of absence. See Pl.'s Opp'n, Carter Aff, ¶ 43.
Five months before her resignation, Dr. Carter applied for and
held open an offer of employment at Howard University, where she
is currently employed. See id. In January 2001, the plaintiff
returned to GWU as a part-time adjunct professor to teach a
course in women's studies. See Carter Dep. at 266-7.
A. Legal Standard for Motion for Summary Judgment
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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood,
43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C.Cir. 1995). To determine which 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (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, 106 S.Ct. 2548;
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505.
In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor
and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A nonmoving party,
however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. See id. at
252, 106 S.Ct. 2505. To prevail on a motion for summary
judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party
"fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on
which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." See
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548. By pointing to the
absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving
party may succeed on summary judgment. See id.
In addition, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on
allegations or conclusory statements. See Greene v. Dalton,
164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C.Cir. 1999); Harding v. Gray,
9 F.3d 150, 154 (D.C.Cir. 1993). Rather, the nonmoving party must
present 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505
(internal 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, 879-80
(D.C.Cir. 1997); see also Johnson v. Digital Equip. Corp.,
836 F. Supp. 14, 18 (D.C. 1993).
B. Discrimination Claims under Title VII, Section 1981, and
The plaintiff argues that the defendant discriminated against
her on the basis of race and age by failing to promote her on
three different occasions. See generally Compl. For each
occasion, the plaintiff brings claims under the statutory
authority of Title VII, Section 1981, and the ADEA. See id. ¶
2. The plaintiff fails to meet her burdens under these statutes
to the extent required in defending a motion for summary
judgment. Accordingly, the court grants the defendant's motion
for summary judgment on all counts of discriminatory failure to
promote under Title VII, Section 1981, and the ADEA.
1. Legal Standard: the McDonnell Douglas Framework
Both Title VII and Section 1981 prohibit intentional
discrimination based on race, and the ADEA prohibits
discrimination based on age. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.;
42 U.S.C. § 1981; 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. To prevail on a
claim of discrimination brought pursuant to Title VII, a
plaintiff must follow a three-part burden-shifting analysis.
See McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct.
1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). The D.C. Circuit has held that the
standards and order of proof in Section 1981 cases are identical
to those governing Title VII disparate-treatment cases. See
Berger v. Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen Local, 843 F.2d 1395,
1412 n. 7 (D.C.Cir. 1988) (citing Carter v. Duncan-Huggins,
Ltd., 727 F.2d 1225 (D.C.Cir. 1984)). Similarly, the D.C.
Circuit has utilized the Title VII framework to analyze
discrimination claims brought pursuant to the ADEA: "that is,
where direct evidence of discriminatory intent is not available,
a party may establish unlawful age discrimination by relying on
the familiar burden-shifting scheme first articulated in
McDonnell Douglas. . . ." Hall v. Giant Food, Inc.,
175 F.3d 1074, 1077 (D.C.Cir. 1999); see also Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 140-43, 120 S.Ct. 2097,
147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000) (applying the McDonnell Douglas
framework to ADEA claims).
The Supreme Court explained the McDonnell Douglas three-part
burdenshifting analysis 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
intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff
remains at all times with the plaintiff.
Texas Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine,