The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD LEON, District Judge
Andrew Fowler, the plaintiff, initiated this proceeding against
Learie Phillip, Principal of Roosevelt Senior High School, and
the District of Columbia, through Arlene Ackerman in her official
capacity as Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public
Schools*fn1 ("DCPS") (collectively "defendants"). Plaintiff
alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and the
District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code § 2-1401 et
seq. ("DCHRA"). The matter comes before the Court on the
parties' "cross motions"*fn2 for summary judgment. Upon due
consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and
the entire record herein, the Court GRANTS defendants' motion, DENIES plaintiff's motion, and
dismisses the action in its entirety.
The relevant facts and circumstances surrounding this case are
well documented.*fn3 To summarize, Andrew Fowler ("Fowler")
began teaching at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School
("Roosevelt High") in 1982. Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶ 7.
Approximately thirteen years later, in September 1995, defendant
Learie Phillip ("Phillip") became principal of Roosevelt High.
Id. ¶ 9. Shortly after assuming the post as principal, Phillip
issued a written reprimand to Fowler. Defs.' Mot. For Summ. Judg.
(filed on 11/7/02), Exh. 3 at 1.*fn4 The reprimand charged
Fowler with "unprofessional conduct" for alleged "sexual
innuendos" that Fowler made to a female student in his classroom
on September 14, 1995. Id.
Fowler responded to the reprimand with a six page written
memorandum to Phillip. Id., Ex. 4 (Memorandum from Fowler to
Phillip). While the memorandum primarily explains and defends
Fowler's own conduct vis a vis the female student, in the last
paragraph Fowler accuses Phillip of sexually harassing a female faculty member
during a faculty meeting.*fn5 Id., Ex. 4 at 6. Fowler
copied several other school and administration officials on this
letter, including the former superintendent of schools and chief
of labor relations. Id.
In June 1996, several months after the official reprimand and
Fowler's response, Fowler's teaching position was among those
positions terminated pursuant to a DCPS system-wide
reduction-in-force ("RIF").*fn6 Am. Compl. ¶ 13; Pl.'s Mot.
For Summ. Judg., Exh. 3 (Letter from the Director of the DCPS
Office of Fiscal and Personnel Service to Fowler notifying him of
the RIF). In March 1997, Fowler filed a charge of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC" or
"Commission"), in which he argued that he was terminated in
retaliation for opposing Phillip's sexual harassment of a female
faculty member in the response to the official reprimand. Pls.'s
Statement of Material Facts To Which There is No Genuine Dispute
("SMF") ¶ 10.*fn7 According to Fowler, Phillip "began a practice of sexually
harassing female faculty members" almost "immediately" after
starting as principal of Roosevelt High. Am. Compl. ¶ 9. Fowler
further contended that Phillip "embarked on a campaign of
retaliation" once Fowler began opposing Phillip's sexual
harassment of others. Id. ¶ 11. Although this retaliation
culminated in his termination, Fowler also alleged that it
included "poor performance evaluations" and "denial of his
applications to coach interscholastic sports." Id. ¶ 12.
On February 11, 1999, the EEOC issued a Determination, finding
that Fowler was in fact terminated in violation of Title VII.
Pl.'s Mot. For Summ. Judg., Ex. 1 at 2. Notwithstanding the
EEOC's determination, the Commission was unable to "conciliate"
the case and Fowler received a Right to Sue letter from the
Department of Justice.*fn8 Id., Ex. 2 (Right to Sue
Letter). This action followed.
Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings and the
record demonstrate 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). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a
genuine dispute of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In this case, where cross motions for
summary judgment are at issue, the Court draws all reasonable
inferences regarding the assertions made in a light favorable to
the non-moving party. Flynn v. Dick Corp., 2005 WL 1904018, *2
(July 29, 2005 D.D.C.). The Court will "grant summary judgment
only if one of the moving parties is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law upon material facts that are not genuinely
disputed." Consumer Fed'n of Am. v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 2005
WL 1773851, *2 (July 28, 2005 D.D.C.).
II. Fowler has Failed to Demonstrate a Prima Facie Case of
Fowler contends that he was terminated from teaching at
Roosevelt High in violation of Title VII and the DCHRA. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 14-29. More precisely, he argues that defendants
retaliated against him for opposing Phillip's sexual harassment
of a female faculty member. Pl.'s Mot. For Summ. Judg. at 2.
Courts look to Title VII jurisprudence when analyzing
employment discrimination claims under the DCHRA. E.g., Goos v.
Nat'l Ass'n of Realtors, 715 F. Supp. 2, 3 (D.D.C. 1989). To
establish a prima facie case for retaliation under Title VII, the
plaintiff must demonstrate: "1) that [he] engaged in a
statutorily protected activity; 2) that the employer took an
adverse personnel action; and 3) that a causal connection existed
between the two." McKenna v. Weinberger, 79 F.2d 783, 790 (D.C.
Cir. 1984). The plaintiff bears the initial burden of proving each element of the prima facie case. See
McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973) (concluding
that the complainant carries the burden of demonstrating a prima
facie case of racial discrimination).
The central issue before the Court is whether Fowler has
demonstrated that he engaged in "statutorily protected activity"
under the first prong of the prima facie case of retaliation.
Fowler argues that his response to the official reprimand is a
"protected activity" under § 704(a) of Title VII because the
response contains a paragraph in which he protests Phillip's