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Kelley v. Billington

March 31, 2005

JAMES KELLEY, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JAMES BILLINGTON, LIBRARIAN, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this action, plaintiffs James Kelley and Vanita Kelly assert a discrimination claim against James Billington, Librarian of the Library of Congress ("defendant" or"Library") relating to their employment as police officers at the Library. Plaintiffs bring their claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., based on allegations of harassment by their co-workers because of their inter-racial marriage. See Compl. ¶¶ 10-11. Presently before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are uncontroverted.*fn1 Plaintiffs are a married couple who both work as police officers at the Library of Congress ("Library"). See Def. Statement ¶ 1. The plaintiffs met while they were both employed by the Library in 1994 and were married on July 8, 2000. Id. ¶ 12. Mr. Kelly, a Caucasian, began working at the Library in September 1991 as a Police Officer, Private with Training. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4. After 30 months, he was promoted to Police Officer, Private First Class. Id. ¶ 4. Since 2001, Mr. Kelley has worked the second shift, which is commanded by Lt. Melvin Dogan, an African-American, with Sgt. Jeffrey Milton, a Caucasian, as the second shift patrol sergeant. Id. Mr. Kelley has never received an evaluation below"satisfactory." Id. ¶ 6.

Mrs. Kelley, an African-American, started at the Library in April 1994 as a Police Officer, Private with Training. Id. ¶¶ 1, 7. After 30 months, she was promoted to Police Officer, Private First Class. Id. ¶ 7. On December 8, 1996, Mrs. Kelley was promoted to the position of Police Technician. Id. Then on January 12, 2003, she was again promoted, this time to Sergeant. Id. As a technician Mrs. Kelley worked in the Communications Center monitoring alarms and radio dispatches and receiving telephone calls. Id. ¶ 9. She worked alongside two other technicians, Deborah Butler, an African-American, and Floyd Montague, an African-American. Id. As a sergeant, Mrs. Kelley first worked in the administrative section, but then was moved to the command center where she supervised several technicians, including Ms. Butler. Id. ¶ 10. Throughout her career at the Library, Mrs. Kelley has never received a rating below"excellent" and she received performance awards in 1996 and 2003. Id. ¶ 11.

On the morning of September 20, 2001, Mrs. Kelley found a photocopy of a picture of a man and woman in her Library mailbox. Id. ¶ 14. The caption on the photo read,"David J. Eisenhower and Ida Stover Eisenhower (Dwight's parents)." Id. Mrs. Kelley did not know what the photo represented, and neither did Mr. Kelley when she showed it to him shortly thereafter. Id. Officer Aaron Williams told Mrs. Kelley that the picture was of an African-American woman and a Caucasian male, from which Mrs. Kelley concluded that"someone was making a mockery of [her] marriage." Id. Before roll call that morning, Mrs. Kelly took the picture to her supervisor, Lt. Dogan, who announced at roll call (before the entire second shift) that such harassment would not be tolerated. Id. ¶¶ 15, 17. After the September 20, 2001 roll call, no further incidents of this type occurred. Id. ¶ 18. Following the announcement at roll call, Lt. Dogan directed Sgt. Milton to investigate who placed the picture in Mrs. Kelley's mailbox. Id. ¶ 19. Neither officials at the Library nor plaintiffs have ever established who placed the picture in Mrs. Kelley's mailbox. Id.

On October 4, 2001, plaintiffs filed an informal complaint of discrimination with the Library Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints Officer ("EEOCO"). Id. ¶ 20. In that informal complaint, and a subsequent supplement, plaintiffs recounted several incidents of alleged harassment they suffered as a result of their inter-racial marriage. Id. The EEO counselor was unable to resolve plaintiffs' concerns and informed them that they could file a formal complaint. Id. ¶ 34. On June 17, 2002, plaintiffs filed a formal complaint with the EEOCO. Id. Between October 4, 2001 and June 17, 2002, plaintiffs did not report any specific incidents of racial harassment. Id. On July 31, 2002, the EEOCO informed plaintiffs that their formal complaint would not be accepted for processing because the alleged incidents of harassment"have not been regular or severe enough." Id. ¶ 35. Plaintiffs appealed this determination, but on September 13, 2002 the EEOC office at the Library wrote plaintiffs that their appeal was denied and that they had 90 days from receipt of that letter to file suit. See id.; Def. Mot., Ex. K.

In their EEOC complaints, and over the course of discovery in the present action, plaintiffs have cited the following fourteen incidents, along with the photograph, as evidence of an alleged hostile work environment:

1. In 1994, according to Officer Tom Cartledge, Officer James Pettus described Mr. Kelley as a white male thirsting for"brown sugar." Def. Statement ¶ 21. Officers Cartledge and Pettus also stated that all white men wanted"black bed warmers" and that Mr. Kelley would never marry Mrs. Kelley and would probably call her"nigger" one day. Id. Neither plaintiff was present for this conversation. Id.

2. In 1994, Officer Cofield told Mr. Kelley that Officer Ronald Easter did not approve of inter-racial marriages. Id. ¶ 37. Mr. Kelley was not present for that statement, nor did Officer Easter specifically reference Mr. and Mrs. Kelley when he made that comment. Id.

3. In 1997, when Mrs. Kelley returned after break, her radio, playing light rock music, was turned off. Id. ¶ 22. Ms. Butler told Mrs. Kelley she had turned it off because she"did not want to listen to that hillbilly." Id.

4. On January 23, 2000, fellow technician Floyd Montague told Mrs. Kelley that a couple of days earlier Ms. Butler told him,"Damn that are you in love with the white boy, too? I know your friend is!" Id. ¶ 23. Mrs. Kelley believes the white boy referred to was Mr. Kelley, although she was not present for the remarks. Id.

5. On January 25, 2000, during an emergency shutdown Ms. Butler said,"Put your leave slips in if you want to go home. It's going to be by seniority so that means all the black people have to stay." Id. ¶ 24. Lt. Dogan, Mrs. Kelley and others were present when Ms. Butler, who does not have authority to issue leave, made this statement. Id. The statement was not made directly to Mrs. Kelley, but instead was addressed to all those present. Id.

6. At some point"in the past" Mrs. Kelley heard Ms. Butler say,"this is the black side (referring to the Jefferson and Adams Buildings) and the Madison is the white side. The Madison gets everything." Id. ΒΆ 25. Mr. ...


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