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HAYSLETT v. PERRY

August 16, 2004.

NEVA HAYSLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN A. PERRY, Administrator, U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELLEN S. HUVELLE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, an African American female employed by the General Services Administration ("GSA"), has filed an employment discrimination suit against her employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., alleging discriminatory failure to promote and retaliation. Defendant has moved for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that defendant's motion for summary judgment should be granted.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff began her employment with GSA in 1996 in the Congressional Affairs Office as a GS-5 doing clerical duties. In October 1996 she was reassigned to GSA's Office of Information Technology ("OIT") as a Staff Assistant, GS-7. In November 1998 she was detailed to GSA's Leadership and Learning Center. In November 1999 she returned to OIT and was assigned to a Staff Assistant, GS-7 position in the Emerging Information Technology Policies Division, which was headed by Richard N. Kellett. Plaintiff was officially assigned to Mr. Kellett's supervision in February 2000. (Kellett Decl. ¶ 5.)

  In anticipation of plaintiff's assignment to Mr. Kellett's division, they executed an Individual Development Plan ("IDP") on August 10, 1999, which listed Ms. Hayslett's short-term goal of obtaining a Program Analyst position at GS-7/9 and her long-term goal of obtaining a Program Analyst, GS-13 position. (Id. ¶ 6; Kellett Decl. Ex. 1.) The IDP represented "goals to strive and work for," not "a promise or guarantee of a promotion." (Kellett Decl. ¶ 6.)

  After plaintiff began working for Mr. Kellett, they had discussions about her position and career path. Mr. Kellett suggested that Ms. Hayslett might be interested in a Program Analyst, GS-7 position to function in a support capacity for other office personnel. (Id. ¶ 7.) After several conversations with plaintiff, Mr. Kellett initiated the paperwork in 1999 to move plaintiff to a Program Analyst, GS-7 position, and the paperwork was ultimately forwarded to his superiors, who approved it in February 2000. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) The paperwork was then forwarded to GSA's Office of Human Resources for processing. (Id. ¶ 8.)

  Monique Spencer of the Office of Human Resources informed Mr. Kellett that plaintiff was not eligible for a reassignment to a Program Analyst position without formally advertising the position and requiring plaintiff to apply and compete against other applicants, because her current position carried a full performance level of GS-7. In other words, plaintiff would not be eligible for promotion without competition to a position with a higher grade level, since Program Analyst positions in GSA — unlike Staff Assistant positions — carried promotion potential to a GS-12 level. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11; Spencer Decl. ¶ 8.) Mr. Kellett determined that his division did not need a Program Analyst position with promotion potential to GS-12. (Kellett Decl. ¶ 13.) Ms. Spencer therefore suggested that Mr. Kellett establish a Program Assistant position for Ms. Kellett at the GS-7 grade level. (Spencer Decl. ¶ 9.) Management ultimately reassigned plaintiff to that position on June 18, 2000. (See id. Ex. 3.)

  On January 19, 2001, upon Mr. Kellett's return from a three-month detail to another agency, an altercation occurred between plaintiff and Mr. Kellett after a staff meeting. (Kellett Decl. ¶¶ 17-24.) Mr. Kellett contacted Federal Protective Services ("FPS") and filed a statement as a result of the incident. (Id. Ex. 3 (FPS Complainant/Witness Statement).) Two days later, plaintiff approached Mr. Kellett and asked to leave work early to attend a class in which she had enrolled at Strayer University. (Id. ¶ 34.) Mr. Kellett instructed plaintiff to cancel and withdraw from the courses because she had not obtained the proper prior authorization.*fn2 (Kellett Decl. ¶ 29; Hayslett Dep. at 43.) On May 9, 2001, plaintiff filed a formal complaint with defendant's EEO office alleging discrimination and retaliation based on, inter alia, Mr. Kellett's actions. (Pl.'s Ex. 9 (EEO Compl.).)

  Subsequently, plaintiff received a performance appraisal on October 4, 2001, from Mr. Kellett for the period of October 1, 2000 to August 26, 2001. (Pl.'s Opp. Ex. 10 (2001 Performance Appraisal).) Although her overall rating was "Successful," as it had been in her 1999 and 2000 appraisals, the narrative comments were less favorable than those in prior years. (Id. Ex. 11 (1999 Performance Appraisal); id. Ex. 12 (2000 Performance Appraisal).)

  On August 27, 2001, plaintiff was reassigned to the Office of Transportation and Personal Property ("OTPP") as a Program Assistant, GS-7. Her immediate supervisor there was Becky Rhodes. In early 2002*fn3 plaintiff was again reassigned, this time to the Travel Managment Policy Division to work with the Federal Premier Lodging Program ("FPLP"), but again as a Program Assistant, GS-7. Plaintiff continues to work in the FPLP, and her supervisor there has at all times been Peggy DeProspero. Plaintiff filed additional EEO complaints on February 20, 2002, and April 18, 2003. (See Pl.'s Ex. 27, 28.) Subsequently, she brought this action on December 11, 2002, and has since amended her complaint on two occasions to incorporate additional allegations of retaliatory conduct.

  ANALYSIS

  I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

  Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the "evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255; see also Wash. Post Co. v. United States Dep't of Health and Human Servs., 865 F.2d 320, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1989).

  The nonmovant's opposition, however, must consist of more than mere unsupported allegations or denials and must be supported by affidavits or other competent evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The nonmovant must provide evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to find in her favor. Laningham v. United States Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1241 (D.C. Cir. 1987). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted). "While summary judgment must be approached with special caution in discrimination cases, a plaintiff is not relieved of [her] obligation to support [her] allegations by affidavits or other competent evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Calhoun v. Johnson, 1998 WL 164780, at *3 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 1998), aff'd, 1999 WL 825425 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 27, 1999) (citation omitted). In addition, Local Civil Rule 7(h) provides that "[a]n opposition to such a ...


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