The opinion of the court was delivered by: REGGIE B. WALTON, District Judge
This lawsuit involves claims of sexual harassment and retaliation.
The defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment regarding
Plaintiff's claims. The Court will grant this motion for the reasons set
The facts pertaining to this case are relatively straightforward. At
the time the events pertinent to this matter occurred, plaintiff, Milford
Jones, was employed by the defendant, the United States Postal Service,
as a material handler, Grade Level PS-4, at the Brentwood postal facility
located in the District of Columbia. Complaint filed on September 10,
2001 ("Compl.") ¶ 9.*fn1 On October 23, 2000, plaintiff was working
in the Brentwood facility's stock room, talking to several co-workers,
when James Wallace, the stock room manager, allegedly "sexual[ly]
assault[ed]" plaintiff. Id. ¶ 11. Specifically,
plaintiff alleges that Mr. Wallace
came up behind [him], grabbed his arms, pulled Mr.
Jones toward him, and rubbed his penis against Mr.
Jones' buttocks. Mr. Jones pulled away from
Supervisor Wallace, but before Mr. Jones could
turn around, Supervisor Wallace pulled Mr. Jones
back toward him, and rubbed his penis against Mr.
Jones' buttocks again. Mr. Jones broke away from
Supervisor Wallace's grip and got away from him.
Plaintiff states that this incident occurred in
full view of his co-workers and the incident was "non-consensual, and
extremely humiliating and embarrassing." Id. Plaintiff states
that Mr. Wallace is a homosexual,*fn3
while he is a heterosexual and
On the same day as the incident occurred, plaintiff filed a charge of
discrimination with the Postal Service's Equal Employment Opportunity
("EEO") office. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff alleges that after he filed his
charge of discrimination, the "[d]efendant embarked on a campaign of
retaliation against [him]." Id. ¶ 13. This "campaign of
retaliation" allegedly included
harassing [plaintiff] on a daily basis; the
elimination of his cubicle work area; denying
[plaintiff] the opportunity to work overtime hours
which he frequently worked prior to the initiation
of EEO proceedings[,] thus reducing
[p]laintiff's work hours and thereby causing him
to lose overtime compensation; etc.
Id. ¶ 13. Based on the above allegations, plaintiff
filed his two-count complaint in this Court alleging sexual harassment
and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (2000). He seeks $300,000
in compensatory and punitive damages; a permanent injunction prohibiting
the defendant from future sexual harassment or retaliation; Mr. Wallace's
dismissal, transfer or
reassignment to ensure that plaintiff never works with Mr. Wallace
a letter from defendant apologizing for the sexual harassment
and retaliatory actions; any overtime compensation plaintiff may have
obtained but for the defendant's retaliatory conduct; the
re-establishment of Plaintiff's cubicle work station, medical expenses,
and the costs of bringing this action.
As already indicated, this matter is currently before the Court on
defendant's motion for summary judgment. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56 provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if 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). A genuine issue of
material fact exists if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "Credibility determinations, the weighing of the
evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are
jury functions, not those of a judge. . . ." Id. at 255. The
entry of summary judgment is appropriate after there has been an
"adequate time for discovery . . . [and the] party [against whom the
motion has been filed] fails 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 Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When reviewing the evidence, the
Court must draw "all inferences . . . in favor of the nonmoving party[.]"
Coward v. ADT Security Systems, Inc., 194 F.3d 155, 158 (D.C.
Cir. 1999); Aka v. Washington HOSP. Center, 156 F.3d 1284, 1295
(D.C. Cir. 1998).
B. Plaintiff's Sexual Harassment Claim
The October 23 incident comprises the sole incident*fn5 of sexually
harassing behavior that plaintiff alleges in his complaint.*fn6
Defendant advances two arguments regarding why summary judgment should be
entered in its favor on this count of the complaint. First, defendant
argues that the plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the alleged sexual
harassment was "motivated by Mr. Wallace's sexual desire." Defendant's
Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Def.'s
Mem.") at 10. Rather, defendant argues, "Mr. Wallace's actions were in
the nature of horseplay." Id. at 11. Second, the defendant
argues that plaintiff cannot demonstrate "that the alleged conduct was
sufficiently severe or persuasive to create an objectively hostile or
abusive work environment that altered the conditions of [plaintiff's]
employment." Id. at 13. In opposition, plaintiff argues that
his claim is sufficient to withstand summary judgment because this one
incident was clearly based on sex, and was so "outrageous, offensive,
unwelcome, and egregious" that the event, standing
alone, constitutes a violation of Title VII. Plaintiff's Opposition
to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 23.
Alternatively, plaintiff argues that he has presented sufficient facts
and evidence from which this Court can conclude that he was the victim of
a hostile working environment. Id. at 24.
In Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services Inc., 523 U.S. 75,
82 (1998), the Supreme Court acknowledged "that sex discrimination
consisting of same-sex harassment is actionable under Title VII. . . ."
In this acknowledgment, the Court was careful to emphasize that claims of
same-sex harassment remain subject to the identical requirements as
claims of opposite-sex harassment; namely, a plaintiff making either type
of sexual harassment claim "must always prove that the conduct at
issue . . . actually constituted `discrimina[tion] . . . because of . . .
sex.'" Id. at 81. Thus, to establish his claim of "same-sex
harassment, [the] court first must determine whether the harasser's
conduct constitutes sex discrimination." La Day v. Catalyst
Technology, Inc., 302 F.3d 474, 478 (5th Cir. 2002). If this
determination is answered in the affirmative,
the court must decide whether the challenged
conduct meets the applicable standards for either
a quid pro quo[*fn7] or hostile
environment claim. For example, same-sex
harassment that is `severe or pervasive' enough to
create a hostile environment . . . might be
excluded from the coverage of [T]itle VII because
it was not discriminatory on the basis of sex. On
the other hand, same-sex harassment that is