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Threadgill v. Spellings

July 15, 2005

GLORIA THREADGILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARGARET SPELLINGS*FN1, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Introduction

This matter comes before the court on defendant's motion for summary judgment on the age discrimination claim. Gloria Threadgill filed this suit after she was not promoted to the position of Management Analyst for the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (the "Department") at the GS-14 level, stating that her non-promotion was based on discrimination on the basis of age. Plaintiff's complaint alleges age discrimination in promotion practices, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Upon consideration of the defendant's motion and reply, the opposition thereto, as well the relevant law, defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied.

Factual Background

In 1999, plaintiff, age fifty, was employed as a GS-13 Management Analyst on the Human Resource Team ("HRT") in the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights, and had been in this position for three years. As a Management Analyst, plaintiff was one of the most senior members of the team, and before this position held a variety of positions within the Department of Education. In her position as Management Analyst for the HRT, she worked in many aspects of human resource services, as her boss indicated by stating he considered her "to be a right hand." Dorka Dep. at 92. During her tenure on the HRT, Ms. Threadgill compiled an excellent record, and earned various awards. Additionally, Ms. Threadgill has served as the acting manager a number of times. Plaintiff's Motion at 6-8.

In March 1999 the Department posted a vacancy for a new Management Analyst position in the Office of Civil Rights ("OCR") HRT, as a career ladder position, meaning that the department could either hire someone as a GS-14 or GS-13. Nicholas Dorka, the selecting official, and team leader for the HRT, wrote the job vacancy, as well as the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities), for the position. The Human Resources Group in the Office of Management initially screened all the applicants, and a certificate of eligibles was given to Dorka, who made the decision that the final selection would be based on the candidates' answers to a set of predetermined questions largely based on the KSAs for this position. Mr. Dorka selected two other, non-HRT members to sit on the interview panel with him. Rosemary Fennel and Karen Hakel, neither of whom had any experience with the human resources department. were hand selected by Mr. Dorka to be part of the interview panel. Mr. Dorka was the selecting official, and determined the final decision. Dorka Int. ¶ 6.

Mr. Dorka stated that all the interviewees were qualified candidates, and the selectee Ms. Moorefield performed the best during the interview. The Department contends that key criteria for hiring were the panelists scores on the interview. Defendant's Memorandum in Support of His Motion for Summary Judgment ("Def.'s Motion") at 10. Plaintiff, who was fifty one at the time of the incident, alleges that the proffered reason was a really a pretext, and that the real reason why Ms. Moorefield, aged thirty one, was hired and Ms. Threadgill was not was age discrimination by the selecting officials. Plaintiff states that she was not promoted because of her age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 633a.

Plaintiff filed her complaint on November 13, 2002, and after the parties conducted discovery, defendant moved for summary judgment.

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when "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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and consequently affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true.

Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. If summary judgment is denied, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party. Id. at 252. A nonmoving party, must establish more than a "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. Furthermore, if the non-moving party "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," summary judgment may be granted. Celotex, 477 U.S. at ...


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