The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Howard P. Stewart ("the plaintiff" or "Mr. Stewart") brings this
employment discrimination case against the United States Department of
Justice ("the defendant" or "DOJ"). Mr. Stewart alleges that the DOJ
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., by discriminating against him on
the basis of his race. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the
defendant discriminated against him when it passed him over on two
occasions for the position of Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section
("ECS") of the DOJ's Environmental and Natural Resources Division
("ENRD") giving the promotion to two white male employees. The defendant
now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the court
grants the defendant's motion on both counts.
An African-American man, Mr. Stewart worked for more than 15 years at
the DOJ as an attorney in various departments, including the Criminal
Division's Fraud Section, the U.S. Attorney's Office of Pennsylvania, and
the ECS. Compl. at 3-4. After performing well as a prosecutor during his
service at the DOJ, he was promoted to the Senior Executive Service
("SES"). Id. Ronald A. Sarachan, then ECS Chief, recommended him for the
position to Lois J. Schiffer, then Assistant Attorney General in charge of
the ENRD. Id.; Pl's Opp'n to Mot. for Summ.J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") Ex. 4 at
1. In 1995, Mr. Stewart became the only SES-level employee in the ECS
other than the person holding the position as Section Chief. Compl. at
4. At the same time, the DOJ appointed Mr. Stewart to his current
position, Senior Litigation Counsel. Id.
The principal factual allegations are as follows. In 1997, the position
of ECS Chief became vacant and Mr. Stewart applied. Id. After evaluating
10 candidates, Ms. Schiffer selected Steven Solow, a white male, for the
position because "he had the temperament and expertise to provide the
leadership to the Section. . . ." Mot. for Summ.J. at 1, 8. In August
1998, Mr. Stewart filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC") alleging racial discrimination because he believed he
was the most qualified candidate for the position of Chief. Pl's Opp'n at
2, 12, 17. In 2000, the position of ECS Chief became vacant again, and
Mr. Stewart again applied.
Compl. at 5. Ms. Schiffer chose David Uhlmann after apparently receiving
strong recommendations in support of his candidacy. Mot. for Summ.J. at
25, 26 (citing Cruden Dep. at 10-11; Sobeck Dep. at 84-85). Ms. Schiffer
ultimately concluded that, "[c]ertainly Mr. Stewart had great strengths,
but I thought that Mr. Uhlmann had greater strengths." Id. at 25.
On both counts, Mr. Stewart contests that he suffered adverse
employment actions since the ECS Chief position would have entailed
"significantly elevated supervisory duties and responsibilities" as
compared to his current job. Pl's Opp'n at 18. Mr. Stewart contends that
the DOJ unlawfully discriminated against him because of his race by
favoring less qualified, lower-graded white candidates. Id. at 2. On
February 5, 2001, the plaintiff filed suit seeking $600,000 in
compensatory damages, a retroactive promotion, including back pay and
adjustment of benefits, and permanent injunctions against the defendant
to prevent any further acts of discrimination or retaliation. Compl. at
7-8. The defendant now moves for summary judgment on both of the
A. Legal Standard 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. 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. 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. 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. 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." 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. Id.
In addition, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or
conclusory statements. 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. Greene, 164 F.3d 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).
B. The McDonnell Douglas Framework
To prevail on a claim of race discrimination under Title VII, a
plaintiff must follow a three-part burden-shifting analysis. McDonnell
Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817. The ...