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Green v. Chao

March 15, 2005

HERBERT S. GREEN, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELAINE CHAO, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Herbert S. Green, a 61-year-old African-American employee of the U.S. Department of Labor, brings this complaint under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., claiming that his 2001 non-selection for a promotion in the Employment Training Agency ("ETA"), in favor of a 34-year-old white candidate, was motivated by unlawful discrimination. Defendant has filed for summary judgment, claiming that plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence that unlawful factors played a part in the Agency's hiring decision. On January 7, 2005, plaintiff filed a one-page cross-motion for summary judgment, claiming that defendant has no basis to claim there was a justifiable reason for its hiring decision. After careful consideration of the parties' motions, the responses and replies thereto, and for the following reasons, the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to conclude that plaintiff was the victim of intentional discrimination. Therefore, defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED and this case will be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Herbert S. Green, Jr., was a GS-13 Program Analyst and a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Training Administration ("ETA") when he filed his application for the position of a GS-14 Manpower Development Specialist in the Office of Youth Opportunities in May 2001. After the application period closed, ETA's Office of Human Resources certified a list of three eligible candidates who met the minimum qualifications for the position. Human Resources then forwarded the certificate, which included Mr. Green, to Ms. Irene Lynn, ETA's Director of the Office of Youth Opportunities and selecting official for the position. Ms. Lynn interviewed each of the eligible candidates, and ultimately selected Greg Weltz, a 34-year-old white male, for the position.

The Agency notified plaintiff of its decision on June 19, 2001. One week later, Mr. Green requested the Agency's rationale for the hiring decision.*fn1 Ms. Lynn responded with a letter describing Mr. Weltz's qualifications as they specifically related to the evaluation factors listed on the job vacancy listing. See Def's. Mot. Ex. 7. In particular, Ms. Lynn cited Mr. Weltz's "expertise in youth programming under the Workforce Investment Act," and "extensive experience in developing and delivering technical assistance to grantees, particularly those at the local level." Id.

On August 6, 2001, plaintiff filed an informal complaint with the Department, asserting that he believed Ms. Lynn's decision was motivated by discrimination on the basis of race and age. After filing a formal complaint of employment discrimination, and having failed to obtain administrative relief, plaintiff filed the present action.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

This case is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment should be granted only if the moving party has shown that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986); Waterhouse v. District of Columbia, 298 F.3d 989, 991 (D.C. Cir. 2002).

In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The non-moving party'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); see Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.

In addition, a district court "is under no obligation to sift through the record... in order to evaluate the merits of [a] party's case." Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Rather, consistent with Local Civil Rule 7(h), a court determining whether to grant summary judgment may rely on the parties' separate statements of material facts and the record material they reference, and may "treat as admitted all facts not controverted" in the statement of genuine issues filed in opposition to the motion. See Waterhouse, 298 F.3d at 992.

B. McDonnell Douglas Framework

Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire... or otherwise discriminate against any individual" because of such individual's race. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The ADEA contains a nearly identical prohibition on discriminatory employment practices based on an individual's age. See 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1).

Because "there will seldom be 'eyewitness testimony' as to an employer's mental processes," U.S. Postal Serv. Bd. of Governors v. Aikens, 460 U.S. 711, 716 (1983), courts often employ a variant of the burden-shifting framework articulated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973), to analyze discrimination cases based on circumstantial evidence. See, e.g., Carter v. George Washington Univ., 387 F.3d 872, 878 (D.C. ...


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