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JONES v. GREENSPAN

December 13, 2005.

CHARLES B. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAN GREENSPAN, Chairman of The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Defendant.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
I. INTRODUCTION
The plaintiff, Charles Blaine Jones, brings an employment discrimination suit against his former employer, the Federal Reserve Board. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant retaliated against him after he filed an age discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This matter is before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. Because the plaintiff has made out a prima facie case of retaliation with respect to the 2000 performance evaluation, but not as to the other performance evaluations, the court grants in part and denies in part the defendant's motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

  The plaintiff, a certified public accountant, was born on May 30, 1948. He began working at the defendant's Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems in April 1991. Compl. ¶ 6. In July 1993, the plaintiff transferred to the Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation at grade level FR-27. Id. ¶ 8. Michael Martinson became the plaintiff's immediate supervisor in late 1997. Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss and for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 3.

  The plaintiff alleges that Martinson denied him a promotion to a managerial position at the FR-29 grade level, and instead selected Heidi Richards, "a woman in her early thirties." Id. at 3, 6. Concerned that his supervisor was "effectuating [d]efendant's policy of promoting young women to positions of management," the plaintiff approached Martinson after Richards' selection. Id. at 4. In response to the plaintiff's concerns, Martinson allegedly "assured" the plaintiff that he would receive a promotion to grade level FR-28. Id.

  "Having not received the promised promotion by September 1998," the plaintiff approached Martinson again to inquire about the status of the promotion to the FR-28 grade level. Id. Martinson allegedly "assured" the plaintiff that "he would be promoted with the next group of promotions." Id. The plaintiff alleges that during this time period, Martinson "effectively demoted [him] by stripping him of his primary job duties and reassigning them to Mrs. Richards." Id. at 5.

  "Based on Mr. Martinson's assurances that a promotion was forthcoming, [the plaintiff] did not pursue the matter with the [d]efendant's EEO office." Id. at 4-5. On October 7, 1999, Martinson promoted a group of individuals. Id. at 5. The plaintiff, however, was not one of those individuals. Id. at 6. Martinson explained that he could not justify the plaintiff's promotion "because of his recently truncated work responsibilities." Id.

  Soon afterwards, in November 1999, the plaintiff filed an informal complaint with the defendant's EEOC office alleging age and gender discrimination. Compl. ¶ 9. The plaintiff filed a formal discrimination complaint in January 2000. Pl.'s Opp'n at 6. The plaintiff alleges that after he initiated the EEOC charge, Martinson "unjustifiably" downgraded the plaintiff's performance evaluations from "outstanding" in 1999 to "commendable" in the years 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. Id. at 2. The plaintiff further asserts that the allegedly retaliatory performance evaluations "have negatively impacted his salary increases, his bonus entitlement, and his [promotion potential]." Compl. ¶ 11.

  B. Procedural Background

  On July 9, 2004, the plaintiff received a notice of final agency action, stating that an EEOC administrative judge dismissed the plaintiff's charge regarding his non-promotion to the FR-29 managerial position, concluding that it was time-barred. Pl.'s Opp'n at 9; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 9A at 1. The plaintiff filed his complaint in this court on October 4, 2004. The plaintiff's complaint alleges that the lowered performance ratings constitute unlawful retaliation, in violation of Tile VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 633a et seq. ("ADEA"). Compl. ¶ 1. The defendant moves for: (1) dismissal of the complaint on the basis that the plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies, and (2) summary judgment on the plaintiff's claims of retaliation. Def.'s Mot. at 1. The court now turns to these motions. III. ANALYSIS

  A. The Court Denies the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

  The defendant moves to dismiss the plaintiff's allegations that the 2000 and 2001 performance evaluations were retaliatory on the basis that the plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies. Def.'s Mot. at 1. The plaintiff opposes the defendant's motion, arguing that he was not required to exhaust his administrative remedies with regards to the 2000 and 2001 performance evaluations. Pl.'s Opp'n at 12. Because the plaintiff is not required to exhaust administrative remedies to file a retaliation claim in court, the court denies the defendant's motion to dismiss the allegations concerning the 2000 and 2001 performance evaluations.

  (1) Legal Standard for Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

  In actions brought under Title VII and the ADEA, a court has authority over only those claims that are (1) contained in the plaintiff's administrative complaint or claims "like or reasonably related to" those claims in the administrative complaint and (2) claims for which the plaintiff exhausted administrative remedies. Park v. Howard Univ., 71 F.3d 904, 907 (D.C. Cir. 1995); Caldwell v. Serv. Master Corp., 966 F. Supp. 33, 49 (D.D.C. 1997). It is the defendant's burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Brown v. Marsh, 777 F.2d 8, 13 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (stating that "because untimely exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, the defendant bears the burden of pleading and proving it"). Meager, conclusory allegations that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies will not satisfy the defendant's burden. Id. at 12 (noting that a mere assertion of failure to exhaust administrative remedies without more is "clearly inadequate under prevailing regulations to establish a failure to exhaust administrative remedies").

  Dismissal results when a plaintiff fails to exhaust administrative remedies. Rann v. Chao, 346 F.3d 192, 194-95 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (affirming the trial court's dismissal of the plaintiff's ADEA claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies); Gillet v. King, 931 F. Supp. 9, 12-13 (D.D.C. 1996) (dismissing the ...


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