The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge
DISMISSING THE PLAINTIFF'S ADEA TERMINATION CLAIM AND
GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE
This case comes before the court on the defendant's motion for summary
judgment. The plaintiff alleges that his former employer, the defendant,
unlawfully discriminated against him in violation of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and
the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. Code §§ 2-1401
et seq. The court dismisses the plaintiff's ADEA termination claim
because he has failed to exhaust the ADEA's prescribed administrative
remedies for that claim. As to the plaintiff's remaining claims, the
court grants the defendant's motion for summary judgment because the
plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of age discrimination
under either the ADEA or the DCHRA. II. BACKGROUND
The plaintiff began working for the defendant as a butcher in 1981.
Def's Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Def's Statement") ¶¶ 1-4; Pl.'s
Statement of Disputed Facts ("Pl.'s Statement") ¶ 4. In January 2000,
one of the plaintiff's supervisors reported that the plaintiff directed
inappropriate and abusive language at another employee. Def.'s Statement
¶ 6; see generally Pl.'s Statement. After this incident, the plaintiffs
supervisors warned him that any repeated conduct of this nature could
result in his termination. Def.'s Statement f 7; see generally Pl.'s
A few months later, in April 2000, a supervisor reported that the
plaintiff confronted and threatened him after once again directing
inappropriate and abusive language at another employee. Def.'s Statement
¶¶ 8-9; see generally Pl.'s Statement. As a result of this second
transgression, the defendant suspended the plaintiff for five days and
required him to attend and provide documentation of anger-management
counseling. Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 10-11; see generally Pl.'s Statement.
Nearly a year later, in March 2001, another supervisor reported that
the plaintiff had, yet again, used inappropriate and abusive language in
the workplace. Def.'s Statement ¶ 15; see generally Pl.'s Statement.
Consequently, the defendant suspended the plaintiff for ten days, again
ordering him to attend and document his enrollment in anger-management
counseling. Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 16-17; see generally Pl.'s Statement. The
plaintiff refused to attend the defendant's prescribed anger-management
counseling. Mussad Decl. ¶¶ 6-7 & Attachs. 3-4, 6-7. Due to his suspensions, on March 22, 2001, the then 58-year-old
plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that the defendant discriminated against
him on the basis of his age. Def.'s Statement ¶ 39; Pl.'s Dep. Tr.
("Pl.'s Dep.") Ex. 3. Specifically, he claimed that the defendant had not
suspended similarly situated younger employees for comparable conduct.
Def.'s Statement ¶ 41; Pl.'s Dep. Ex. 3.
On November 2001, while his EEOC complaint was pending, the plaintiff
reported that he injured his back while lifting a box of meat at work.
Def.'s Statement ¶ 20; Pl.'s Statement ¶ 4. As a result of his alleged
injury, the plaintiff discontinued work, presented the defendant with a
doctor's statement restricting his employment activities, and filed for
workers' compensation. Def.'s Statement ¶ 22; Pl.'s Statement ¶ 4.
Thereafter, in an effort to verify the legitimacy of the plaintiff's
reported injury and inability to work, the workers' compensation
insurance provider had the plaintiff submit to an independent medical
evaluation and assigned private investigators to conduct surveillance of
the plaintiff. Def.'s Statement ¶ 23; see generally Pl.'s Statement. In
January 2002, the defendant received a videotape from the insurance
provider that contained footage of the plaintiff repeatedly lifting
luggage. Def.'s Statement ¶ 24; see generally Pl.'s Statement. The
defendant also received a copy of the independent medical evaluation,
which determined that the plaintiffs conduct on the videotape was
inconsistent with his reported condition and that the plaintiff could
work without restriction. Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 25-31; see generally Pl.'s
Statement. After reviewing the videotape and the medical evaluation, the
defendant's general manager, in conjunction with the recommendation of
the defendant's director of human resources, terminated the plaintiff for
"misrepresent[ing] his ability to work after allegedly suffering an
on-the-job injury." Def.'s Statement ¶¶ 33-34, 37; see generally Pl.'s
Statement. B. Procedural History
On March 29, 2002, the EEOC issued the plaintiff a "Notice of Right to
Sue" at the request of his counsel. Am. Compl. at 2; Pl.'s Dep. Ex. E. On
April 24, 2002, the plaintiff initiated this suit against the defendant,
alleging that the defendant violated the ADEA by suspending and later
terminating the plaintiff on account of his age. Compl. ¶ 2; Am. Compl.
at 1-2. On May 12, 2003, pursuant to the parties' stipulation, the
plaintiff amended his complaint, adding an unlawful-termination claim
under the DCHRA. Am. Compl. at 3-4. After receiving the plaintiff's
consent, the defendant late-filed an answer to the amended complaint,
advancing, inter alia, the affirmative defense of failure to exhaust
administrative remedies with regard to the plaintiff's ADEA termination
claim. Answer to Am. Compl. at 5. On November 3, 2003, the defendant
filed its motion for summary judgment. The court now addresses that
A. The Court Dismisses the Plaintiff's ADEA Termination
1. Legal Standard for Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Under the
The purpose of the ADEA is to "promote employment of older persons
based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age
discrimination in employment; [and] to help employers and workers find
ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment."
29 U.S.C. § 621(b). Toward that end, the ADEA gives an individual who
is at least 40 years old the right to seek relief against his employer if
the employer has taken some adverse employment action against him on the
basis of age rather than ability. Id. §§ 623, 631(a).
Before filing suit under the ADEA, a putative plaintiff must exhaust
his administrative remedies by filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180
days of the alleged discriminatory incident. Id. § 626(d)(1); see also
Washington v. Wash. Metro Area Transit Auth., 160 F.3d 750
, 752 (D.C.
Cir. 1998) (stating that "[b]efore suing under the ADEA[,] . . . an
aggrieved party must exhaust his administrative remedies by filing a
charge of discrimination with the EEOC"). The "charge" requirement
mandates the filing of a written statement identifying the potential
defendant and generally describing the alleged discriminatory incident.
H.R. Rep. No. 95-950, at 12 (1978) (conference report). According to the
[a] vague or circumscribed EEOC charge will not
satisfy the exhaustion requirement for claims it does
not fairly embrace. Allowing a complaint to encompass
allegations outside the ambit of the predicate EEOC
charge would circumvent the EEOC's investigatory and
conciliatory role, as well as deprive the charged
party of notice of the charge, as surely as would an
initial failure to file a timely EEOC charge.
Naturally every detail of the eventual complaint need
not be presaged in the ...