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Clark v. District of Columbia

November 6, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. United States District Judge


Before the court is Defendant District of Columbia's motion for summary judgment [#165]. Upon consideration of the motion, the oppositions thereto, and the record of the case, the court concludes that the motion must be granted.


Plaintiff James Clark brings this lawsuit against the District of Columbia for violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 49, 53, 55. The case arises out of the January 2002 termination of Clark's employment with the District's Department of Corrections. Clark's allegations are as follows:

Clark, a 66-year-old Black man, was employed by the Department of Corrections for eighteen years. Id. ¶ 2. In February 1998, complaints were raised about Clark's behavior on the job, particularly by mental health professionals in the Department's office of Mental Health Services. See Pl.'s Opp. to Def.'s Mot. to Amend Admissions Exs. [#192-2] at 11--13, 35--37 (Balaran Ltr. to Valentine, Jan. 30, 1998; Weisman Ltr. to Shansky, Feb. 2, 1998; Shansky Ltr. to Moore, Feb. 2, 1998; Schneider Ltr. to Moore, Mar. 27, 1998); Pl.'s 2nd Opp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s 2nd Opp.") Exs. [#182-4] at 8 (Shansky Mem. to Valentine, Jan. 30, 1998).*fn1

Nearly a year later, in January 1999, Clark was transferred from the Department's Central Detention Facility ("CDF") to its Lorton facility, apparently at the behest of members of the Mental Health Services group. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 15, 25, 55; Pl.'s 2nd Opp. at 4.

In addition to claiming that this transfer was discriminatory and in violation of his rights, Clark also raises a series of other claims: He alleges that his promotion from the rank of lieutenant to captain was delayed, and that in August 2000, his employment was involuntarily converted from a career service position to an at-will Management Supervisory Services ("MSS") position, despite his rejection of the District's offer to accept the conversion. Am. Compl. ¶ 20. Clark alleges that in November 2001, he was re-assigned to work in the Central Detention Facility, but was told by a prison official that the CDF was not prepared for him yet, and sent him back to Lorton. Id. ¶¶ 28, 41. He was also given an admonition and demoted on December 29, 2001, or January 1, 2002. Id. ¶ 26; Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mem. in Supp.") Ex. H (Dep. of Clark). Shortly thereafter, in January 2002, his employment was terminated. Am. Compl. ¶ 29; Def.'s Mem. in Supp. Ex. F (Washington Ltr. to Clark, Jan. 2, 2002). Three months later, Clark applied to be re-hired for an open captain-level position, but the position was cancelled. Id. ¶ 39, 50. Clark alleges that each of these actions was motivated by racial, sex, and/or age-based animus, in violation of Title VII and the D.C. Human Rights Act, and that the District's actions violated the Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment and due process.

The District's motion for summary judgment argues that a number of Clark's claims fail, either because he failed to administratively exhaust them or because they are time-barred. The District also argues that all of Clark's claims fail on the merits.


A. Standard of Review

The court reviews motions for summary judgment to determine whether "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). A genuine dispute about a material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. Evidence is to be viewed "in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, draw[ing] all reasonable inferences in its favor, and eschew[ing] making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence." United States v. Project on Government Oversight, 454 F.3d 306, 308 (D.C. Cir. 2006).

B. Title VII

Clark brings a series of claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A court has authority over Title VII claims only if those claims are "(1) contained in the plaintiff's administrative complaint or [are] 'like or reasonably related to' those claims in the administrative complaint and [are] (2) claims for which the plaintiff exhausted administrative remedies." Johnson v. Ashcroft, 445 F. Supp. 2d 45, 51 (D.D.C. 2006) (citing Park v. Howard Univ., 71 F.3d 904, 907 (D.C. Cir. 1995)); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) (permitting a civil action only after an administrative charge has been filed and either the EEOC has dismissed the charge or taken no action and issued a right-to-sue letter). Exhaustion requires filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and receipt of a right-to-sue letter: "Only after the EEOC has notified the aggrieved person of its decision to dismiss or its inability to bring a civil action within the requisite time period can that person bring a civil action herself." Park, 71 F.3d at 907; 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) ("[W]ithin ninety days after the giving of [a notice of right to sue] a civil action may be brought against the respondent named in the charge."). A Title VII plaintiff also must comply with rules regarding timeliness of her claims. An aggrieved person must file an EEOC charge regarding a violation of Title VII within 180 days of that ...

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