United States District Court, D. Columbia
August 19, 2005.
ABDUL WAKIL AMIRI, Plaintiff,
SHERATON OPERATING CORPORATION, d/b/a WESTIN EMBASSY ROW HOTEL, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD LEON, District Judge
Plaintiff has filed an amended complaint alleging that he was
denied employment by defendant based on his race, color,
ancestry, and national origin, in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and
42 U.S.C. § 1981. Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment.
Because the Court finds that the undisputed material facts
establish that defendant had a legitimate, non-discriminatory
reason for not hiring plaintiff, summary judgment will be
Defendant is a hotel located at 2100 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
in Washington, D.C. Amended Complaint ("Amend. Compl."), ¶ 2. In
March, 2002, defendant posted a notice that it was seeking
applicants for part-time housekeeping positions. Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment ("Deft's Mtn."), Attachment B,
Declaration of Deanne Johnson-Anderson ("Johnson-Anderson
Decl."), ¶ 6. The job announcement stated that "[u]nless
otherwise specified, all positions require flexibility, including availability for
evening, weekend, and holiday shifts." Id., Exhibit ("Ex.") 1.
The notice for part-time housekeepers specifically stated that
previous experience was preferred and that the applicant had to
be able to work weekends and flexible shifts. Id.
On March 7, 2002, plaintiff submitted to defendant an
application for a room attendant position. Id., Ex. 2.
Plaintiff is a native of Afghanistan, has dark skin, and a strong
accent. Amend. Compl., ¶ 8. On his employment application,
plaintiff stated that he was only available to work from 7:00 or
8:00 a.m until 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. and that he was not available to
work on Mondays and sometimes Tuesdays. Johnson-Anderson Decl.,
Ex. 2. According to defendant, based on plaintiff's limited
availability, the hotel sent him a "regrets" card on March 20,
2002. Id., ¶ 15. Plaintiff alleges that defendant never offered
him a reason for denying him the position. Amend. Compl., ¶ 9.
Plaintiff also alleges the room attendant position was filled by
an equally or lesser qualified person not a member of plaintiff's
protected classes or that the position remains vacant. Id., ¶
Standard of Review
Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is appropriate if the pleadings 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
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Material facts
are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial
burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Tao
v. Freeh, 27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir. 1994).
In considering whether there is a triable issue of fact, the
Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see also
Washington Post Co. v. United States Dep't of Health and Human
Servs., 865 F.2d 320, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1989). The party opposing a
motion for summary judgment, however, "may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The non-moving party must do more
than simply "show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Moreover, "any factual
assertions in the movant's affidavits will be accepted as being
true unless [the opposing party] submits his own affidavits or
other documentary evidence contradicting the assertion." Neal v.
Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (quoting Lewis v.
Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100, 102 (7th Cir. 1982)). The mere
existence of a factual dispute by itself, however, is not enough
to bar summary judgment. The party opposing the motion must show
that there is a genuine issue of material fact. See Anderson,
477 U.S. at 247-48. To be material, the fact must be capable of
affecting the outcome of the litigation; to be genuine, the issue
must be supported by admissible evidence sufficient for a
reasonable trier of fact to find in favor of the nonmoving party.
Id.; see also Laningham v. United States Navy, 813 F.2d 1236,
1242-43 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
In order to prevail in a Title VII case or a discrimination
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, a plaintiff initially must
establish a prima facie case of prohibited discrimination.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-05 (1973); Carter v.
George Washington Univ., 387 F.3d 872, 878 (D.C. Cir. 2004). If
the plaintiff succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, the
burden of production shifts to the defendant to articulate a
legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the challenged action.
McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 804. Once the defendant proffers
a sufficient non-discriminatory reason, the burden shifts to the
plaintiff to produce some evidence, either direct or
circumstantial, to show that defendant's proffered reason is a
pretext for discrimination. Id.; Morgan v. Federal Home Loan
Mortgage Corp., 328 F.3d 647, 651 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied,
540 U.S. 881 (2003). See also Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 143, 147-49 (2000).
To establish a prima facie case of discrimination, the
plaintiff must establish that (1) he is a member of a protected
class; (2) he applied for and was qualified for the position; and
(3) someone outside his protected class was hired for the
position. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802; see Stella v.
Mineta, 284 F.3d 135, 145 (D.C. Cir. 2002); Brown v. Brody,
199 F.3d 446, 452 (D.C. Cir. 1999). The burden of establishing a
prima facie case of employment discrimination is "not onerous."
Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253
Defendant does not argue that plaintiff cannot establish a
prima facie case. For the purpose of deciding this motion,
then, the Court will assume plaintiff can meet his burden of
established a prim facie case of discrimination.
To demonstrate a legitimate reason for its employment decision,
the defendant need only "proffer," not prove, a legitimate
non-discriminatory reason for not offering the position to the
plaintiff. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802. The reason
offered by defendant here is that a requirement for the room
attendant position was that the applicant be able to work
flexible shifts, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Defendant imposed
this requirement based on its collective bargaining agreement
with the union representing full-time housekeepers at the hotel.
See Johnson-Anderson Decl., ¶ 9 & Ex. 3. Under that agreement,
full-time housekeepers had priority in choosing work schedules
based on seniority. Id. Part-time housekeepers were needed to
fill in for full-time employees when they were absent from work.
Id., ¶ 10.
Plaintiff's application clearly stated that his work
availability was not as flexible as required for the advertised
position. Plaintiff, therefore, was plainly unqualified for the
position. The job requirement was a rational, if not necessary,
decision by the hotel. Based on these facts, the Court concludes
that defendant had a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its
Since defendant has proffered a legitimate reason for not
hiring plaintiff, he must establish by a preponderance of the
evidence that the proffered explanation is a pretext for
discrimination. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 804. In
assessing whether an employer's stated reasons for the hiring
decision are a pretext, the Court should consider whether a jury
could infer discrimination from the combination of (1)
plaintiff's prima facie case; (2) any evidence plaintiff
presents to challenge the employer's proffered explanation; (3)
independent evidence of discriminatory statements or conduct by
the employer; and (4) any contrary evidence by the employer of a
positive record of equal opportunity employment. Aka v.
Washington Hospital Center, 156 F.3d 1284, 1289 (D.C. Cir. 1998).
The issue is not one of the correctness or the desirability of
the reasons offered, but whether the employer honestly believes
in the reason offered. Fischbach v. D.C. Dep't of Corrections,
86 F.3d 1180, 1183 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Plaintiff must show that the
reason offered is a phony one. Id. Plaintiff has not offered any evidence to rebut defendant's
articulated non-discriminatory reason for not hiring him for the
room attendant position. Therefore, plaintiff has failed to show
that the reason offered by defendant for its hiring decision is
The evidence presented by the parties shows that there are no
genuine issues of material fact. Plaintiff has failed to rebut
defendant's articulated non-discriminatory reason for the hiring
decision. As such, plaintiff cannot establish a discrimination
claim under either Title VII or 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Defendant's
motion for summary judgment will be granted and the case
dismissed. A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
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