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JOHNSON v. ASHCROFT

August 25, 2005.

EMANUEL JOHNSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN ASHCROFT et. al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

  This case comes before the court on the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The pro se plaintiff is an African-American former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). The plaintiff alleges that the defendant maintained a racially discriminatory hostile work environment that led to his constructive discharge. The defendant argues that the plaintiff's claims are barred by res judicata and moves the court for summary judgment. Because the court concludes that the plaintiff's claims are barred by previous settlement agreements, the court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment. II. BACKGROUND

  A. Factual History

  The plaintiff, an African-American man, was employed as a special agent for the Department of Justice ("DOJ"), FBI, between January 15, 1973 and May 3, 1999. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19. In 1991, the plaintiff, along with other African-American special agents, brought a class action suit before Chief Judge Hogan in this court. Id. at ¶ 121. That lawsuit, known as the BADGE lawsuit, settled on October 14, 1993, when the court approved a settlement agreement. Id. at ¶ 123. Under the terms of the BADGE settlement agreement, the plaintiff class waived any then-pending claims arising out the defendant's discriminatory employment practices. Defs.' Mot., Ex. 4 ("1993 Settlement Agreement") at 55. The 1993 Settlement Agreement also provided a mechanism for bringing any retaliation claims that might arise as a result of the plaintiffs' participation in the BADGE suit. Id. at 58-60. In 2000, the parties amended the settlement agreement, Defs.' Mot., Ex. 5 ("Mediation Settlement Agreement") at 1, to "resolve all outstanding class issues related to promotions, discipline, and performance evaluations raised by plaintiffs in mediation," Defs.' Mot., Ex. 6 ("Notice of Proposed Mediation Settlement Agreement") at 4.

  After the BADGE lawsuit settled, the plaintiff brought another lawsuit, Johnson v. Reno, 93-cv-2234, before Judge Jackson in this court, alleging retaliation based on his role as the lead plaintiff in the BADGE suit. Am. Compl. ¶ 223; Defs.' Mot. at 7. The parties settled the suit on June 1998. Defs.' Mot. at 5. The suit was based on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") complaint F-89-4155. Id.

  In addition to EEOC complaint F-89-4155, the plaintiff brought five other EEOC complaints under the auspices of the BADGE settlement agreement, namely: (1) F-95-4707, filed on December 14, 1994, (2) F-95-4607, filed on May 31, 1995, (3) F-96-4784, filed on January 16, 1996, (4) F-96-4881, filed on October 22, 1996, and (5) F-97-4967, filed on May 9, 1997. Defs.' Mot. at 7. According to the defendants, all five EEOC complaints were "administratively closed." Id. The plaintiff subsequently re-filed F-97-4967 as F-97-5049 on September 19, 1997. Id.; Defs.' Mot., Ex. 19. The plaintiff does not dispute that the factual basis for the five EEOC complaints and the BADGE lawsuit are "identical to those filed by Plaintiff in the instant action." Defs.' Mot. at 7. The plaintiff also filed a seventh EEOC charge, F-97-5073, on November 3, 1997. Defs.' Mot., Ex. 12; Defs.' Mot., Ex. 19.

  On December 4, 2000, the DOJ's Complaint Adjudication Office examined the claims in F-97-5049 and F-97-5073 and concluded that "the evidence does not support complainant's claim that he was discriminated against because of his race or prior EEOC activity." Defs.' Mot., Ex. 12. The plaintiff appealed the agency's decision, but on May 30, 2002, the Equal Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") affirmed the DOJ's decision. Defs.' Mot., Ex. 19. On September 6, 2002, the EEOC denied the plaintiff's request for reconsideration and notified the plaintiff of his right to file a civil action. Defs.' Mot., Ex. 20.

  B. Procedural History

  The plaintiff filed this civil action on September 3, 2002, and he amended his complaint on August 11, 2003. In contrast to the fifth and sixth EEOC charges,*fn1 the plaintiff in this action alleges that the defendant subjected him to a hostile work environment throughout his 26-year*fn2 career at the FBI. The plaintiff claims that the hostile work environment led to his constructive discharge. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 19. Approximately a month after the plaintiff amended his complaint, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. In its January 12, 2004 memorandum opinion, the court declined to dismiss the action because at least one of the alleged acts took place within the statutory period. The court, however, emphasized that it was not expressing any opinion as to whether the plaintiff had proven that an actionable hostile environment existed. The court now turns to the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

  III. ANALYSIS

  A. Legal Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment

  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); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). 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 ...


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