The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This employment-discrimination matter comes before the court
upon the defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). The plaintiff, Cynthia
Carter, brought this suit alleging discrimination and
retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et
seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The plaintiff also alleges
constructive discharge and numerous
counts of breach of contract. For the reasons that follow, the
court will grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment.
The plaintiff, Cynthia J. Carter, Ed.D., is an
African-American female who is over the age of 40. See Second
Am.Compl. ("Compl.") 3. George Washington University ("GWU" or
"the defendant"), is a private university located in the
District of Columbia. See id. At all times relevant to her
complaint, Dr. Carter was an employee of GWU, where she rose
swiftly through the ranks, receiving three promotions in four
years. She was hired as an Assistant Director of Marketing in
the Division of Continuing Engineering Education (Grade 15), and
was then promoted within the Division of Continuing
Education/Off Campus Programs (Grade 17). See id. ¶¶ 7-8. Over
time, Dr. Carter was promoted to Director of Regional Programs
and Communications in the Office of Alumni Relations (Grade 19)
and to Director of Reunions and Events in the Office of Alumni
Relations (Grade 20). See id ¶¶ 10-12.
The plaintiff filed her original complaint on November 24,
1999. On December 5, 2000 the court granted the plaintiff leave
to file her Second Amended Complaint, but struck the plaintiffs
Count 20 in response to a motion by the defendant. See Mem.
Op. (Dec. 15, 2000). On June 8, 2001, the defendant moved this
court for summary judgment on the remaining 19 counts.
The court now lists the relevant details of Dr. Carter's
experiences with GWU, organized according to her different
The plaintiff claims that the defendant failed to promote her
on three occasions because of discrimination and/or retaliation:
first, to the position of Executive Director of Alumni
Relations; next, to the position of the Director of Development
at Mount Vernon College; lastly, to the position of Director of
Corporate and Foundation Relations. The court describes the
facts surrounding each position separately.
1. Executive Director of Alumni Relations
The Executive Director of Alumni Relations position became
vacant in August 1997. See Worth Decl. ¶ 5; Compl. ¶ 15.
Michael Worth, Vice President for Development and Alumni
Affairs, appointed a search committee composed of GWU senior
officials and active alumni to recommend candidates for the
position. See Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 17; Worth Decl. ¶ 6. Dr. Carter
applied for the position in September 1997. See Compl. ¶ 16.
Her application, and those of five others, were selected from
almost 100 applications and forwarded to the Search Committee
for further evaluation. See id.; Hall Decl. ¶ 10.
The Search Committee interviewed the remaining finalists and
recommended four individuals for further consideration. See
Hall Decl. ¶ 12. Dr. Carter was not one of the four recommended
by the committee. See id.; Compl. ¶ 17. Michael Worth then
interviewed the remaining candidates, and selected Keith Betts,
a white male under the age of 40, to occupy the position of
Executive Director of Alumni Relations.
The plaintiff learned of her non-selection on November 7,
1997, and the defendant announced Keith Betts as the new
Executive Director in January 1998. See Def.'s Mot. for
Summ.J.Ex. 11, Carter Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC") Aff. After the announcement, the plaintiff approached a
member of the committee, GWU's Director of Career Services, for
professional advice. See Carter Dep. 145-46. The committee
member then advised the plaintiff to consider a different
interviewing style as a method for improving her professional
prospects. See id.
2. Director of Development at Mount Vernon College
Mount Vernon College was a small, independent women's college
in the District of Columbia that became affiliated with GWU in
October 1996. In the fall of 1998, as the College made plans to
close the following year, GWU planned to expand its offerings at
the College and continued the College's focus on women's
education. See Baxter Decl. ¶ 3. In March 1998, GWU posted a
vacancy for the position of Director of Development at the new
campus, describing the basic functions of this position as the
"identification, cultivation, and solicitation of major gifts
for programs of the school." Hall Decl.Ex. 8.
At this time, Graeme Baxter, Executive Dean of GWU Mount
Vernon College, interviewed the plaintiff and two others. See
Baxter Decl. ¶ 6. Dean Baxter concluded that the plaintiff was
not qualified because she lacked experience working with major
donors and also because she lacked experience directing
university fundraising. See id. The Dean also determined that
the successful applicant, Sarah Morgan, was best qualified
because she possessed experience at a women's college and
previously had direct responsibility for development campaigns.
See id. The plaintiff claims that the reasons offered by the
defendant are a pretext for her nonselection, and that her race
and age are the true reasons for her non-selection. See Compl.
¶¶ 49, 54.
3. Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
In or around October 1998, GWU announced a vacancy for the
position of Director of Corporate and Foundations Relations.
See Hall Decl. ¶ 19. The position required the successful
candidate to fundraise from corporations and foundations on a
national level. See id. The plaintiff applied for the
position, and her materials were forwarded to the independent
search firm handling the search process, AST/Bryant. See id.;
Carter Dep. at 165. Katherine White, of AST/Bryant, handled the
GWU account and met with each of the three applicants. Ms. White
determined that Dr. Carter was not a qualified candidate, and
that she could not present Dr. Carter as an applicant for the
position. See Hall Decl.Ex. 12; Carter Dep. at 1712. The
position was subsequently withdrawn for lack of qualified
applicants. See Hall Decl. ¶ 23; Carter Dep. at 175. The
plaintiff again claims that her race was the reason for her
non-selection for this position. See Compl. ¶ 59.
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, ...