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Valles-Hall v. Center for Nonprofit Advancement

March 12, 2007

ARMINDA VALLES-HALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CENTER FOR NONPROFIT ADVANCEMENT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff's Complaint and First Amended Complaint include claims pursuant to both 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code §§ 2-1401 et seq. ("DCHRA"), alleging that Defendant, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement ("CNA"), discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of "racial, ethnic, and national origin considerations," First Am. Compl. (hereinafter "Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 73-78; Compl. ¶¶ 31-35, and that CNA retaliated against Plaintiff because "she was engaged in statutorily protected expression concerning the vindication of her civil rights," Am. Compl. ¶¶ 68-72; Compl. ¶¶ 41-44. In addition to these claims, Plaintiff's Complaint includes claims for Sexual Orientation/Preference discrimination under the DCHRA (Count II), Constructive Discharge (Count IV), Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count V), and Negligent Supervision (Count VI); however, Plaintiff has not opposed Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to these Counts, and the Court shall therefore dismiss them as abandoned. Defendant has moved for summary judgment as to all Counts included in Plaintiff's Complaint and First Amended Complaint. Upon a searching consideration of the filings currently before the Court, the attached exhibits, the relevant case law, and the entire record herein, the Court shall grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court begins its discussion of the facts by noting that this Court strictly adheres to the text of Local Civil Rule 56.1 (identical to Local Civil Rule 7(h) (formerly Rule 7.1(h)). The local rules for summary judgment "assist[] the district court to maintain docket control and to decide motions for summary judgment efficiently and effectively." Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garret & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 150 (D.C. Cir. 1996). "Requiring strict compliance with the local rule is justified both by the nature of summary judgment and by the rule's purposes. . . . The procedure contemplated by the rule thus isolates the facts that the parties assert are material, distinguishes disputed from undisputed facts, and identifies the pertinent parts of the record." Id. (quoting Gardels v. CIA, 637 F.2d 770, 773 (D.C. Cir. 1980)). "[A] district court should not be obliged to sift through hundreds of pages of depositions, affidavits, and interrogatories in order to make [its] own analysis and determination of what may, or may not, be a genuine issue of material fact." Id. (quoting Twist v. Meese, 854 F.2d 1421, 1425 (D.C. Cir. 1988)).

The Court further notes that Plaintiff has already been given an extra chance to comply with Local Civil Rule 56.1. On January 30, 2007, the Court found that Plaintiff's original "Statement of Material Facts" failed to comply with Local Civil Rules 7(h) and 56.1, and with this Court's May 4, 2006 Order, which advised Plaintiff that "[t]he Court strictly adheres to the dictates of Local Civil Rules 7(h) and 56.1 and may strike pleadings not in conformity with these rules." Valles-Hall v. Cent. for Nonprofit Advancement, Civil Action No. 06-806, Order (D.D.C. May 4, 2006 (citing Burke v. Gould, 286 F.3d 513, 519 (D.C. Cir. 2002)); Valles-Hall, Order (D.D.C. Jan. 30, 2007). Advising Plaintiff that the purpose of Rule 56.1 is to "place the burden on the parties and their counsel, who are most familiar with the litigation and the record, to crystallize for the district court the material facts and relevant portions of the record," Jackson, 101 F.3d at 151, the Court struck Plaintiff's Opposition in its entirety and, in the interest of justice, gave Plaintiff another opportunity to file a Statement of Material Facts in Dispute/Not in Dispute that complied fully with Local Civil Rules 7(h) and 56.1.

Despite the Court's clear admonition regarding the requirements of Local Civil Rules 7(h) and 56.1, Plaintiff's more recent Genuine Statement of Material Facts in Dispute ("Plaintiff's Statement") still fails to comply with Local Civil Rules 7(h) and 56.1. As Defendant points out in its Supplemental Reply, the numbered paragraphs in Plaintiff's Statement bear no relationship at all to the numbered paragraphs in Defendant's Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute (hereinafter "Defendant's Statement"). As a result, it is extremely difficult for the Court to parse from Plaintiff's Statement those specific facts that Plaintiff considers in dispute. See Gibson v. Office of the Architect of the Capitol, Civ. No. 00-2424(CKK), 2002 WL 32713321, at *1 n.1 (D.D.C. Nov. 19, 2002), aff'd No. 05-5031, 2003 WL 21538073 (D.C. Cir. July 2, 2003). In addition, as Defendant also notes, Plaintiff fails to cite specific record support for a number of assertions included in her Statement, even though Defendant's initial Reply Memorandum highlighted this shortcoming. Def's Supp. Reply at 2-3. Indeed, Plaintiff repeatedly cites portions of her deposition transcript in support of her assertions, but fails to actually provide the Court with the particular pages to which she cites. Plaintiff did not correct these omissions in her revised Opposition and Statement, and as a result, the Court is unable to determine whether she has simply incorrectly cited her deposition or whether she instead lacks factual support for her assertions. Nevertheless, as Plaintiff has already been given an opportunity to revise her Opposition and Statement, the Court has decided not to correct Plaintiff's errors for her by soliciting additional record evidence that Plaintiff has failed to provide. Finally, the Court notes that Plaintiff's failure to comply with Local Civil Rule 56.1 has significantly prejudiced Defendant, who has been required to file additional memoranda in response to Plaintiff's filings, and who has faced the unnecessarily difficult task of meaningfully responding to Plaintiff's improper filings.

Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56.1, in resolving the present summary judgment motion, this Court "assumes that facts identified by the moving party in the statement of material facts are admitted, unless such a fact is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in opposition to the motion." LCvR 56.1; 7(h). In accordance with this Rule, the Court has treated as admitted all facts alleged by Defendant in its Statement and not specifically contradicted by Plaintiff in her Statement. The Court has also considered the facts adduced by Plaintiff in her Statement, to the extent that they are supported by record evidence, and cites directly to the record, where appropriate, to provide additional information not covered in either of the parties' statements.

A. The Parties

Plaintiff, Arminda Valles-Hall, identifies herself as a heterosexual Mexican-American woman, and describes her racial identity as either Latino or Hispanic. See Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 1; Compl. ¶¶ 3, 33.*fn1 In March 2003, Plaintiff applied for the position of Director of Education at Defendant the Center for Nonprofit Advancement ("CNA").*fn2 Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 12; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 51:8-20. Plaintiff was interviewed by CNA's Executive Director, Betsy Johnson, who was solely responsible for the decision to offer Plaintiff the position with a starting salary of $52,000 per year. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 5, 13; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 51:8-52:15; Def.'s Ex. 2 (4/2/03 Offer Letter from Johnson to Valles-Hall). Plaintiff accepted Ms. Johnson's offer and began working at CNA on April 21, 2003. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 14; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 41:7-10.*fn3 Plaintiff was an at-will employee of CNA from April 21, 2003 to February 14, 2005. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 14; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 41:11-16.

CNA is a tax-exempt, District of Columbia nonprofit corporation headquartered in the District of Columbia. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 1; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 11:6-11. CNA was founded in 1979 and serves the nonprofit community in the Washington, DC metropolitan area through education, advocacy, nonprofit community building and group purchasing. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 2; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 11:11-12:9. CNA is governed by a Board of Directors, which is chaired by its President. At all times relevant to this matter, Mary Ann de Barbieri served as President of CNA. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 4; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 20:109-22:11. CNA's paid staff is headed by Ms. Johnson, who has served as CNA's Executive Director since 1988. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 5; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 12:12-14:1. CNA has a Personnel Handbook, which each employee is required to read, and acknowledge having read, upon being hired. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 6, 8; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 55:8-14; Def.'s Ex. 4 (WCA Personnel Handbook); Def.'s Ex. 5 (4/28/03 Valles-Hall Handbook Acknowledgment Form); Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 77:16-78:16). In addition to containing provisions relating to equal employment and non-discrimination, use of compensatory time, sick leave, workplace behavior, and discipline, the Personnel Handbook notes that specific types of misconduct may lead to corrective action or dismissal. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 6-7; Def.'s Ex. 4 (WCA Personnel Handbook). These include "[c]onduct, including speech . . . that is abusive to or disrespectful of [CNA]'s directors [or] employees . . .;" "[f]ailure to conduct yourself in a professional and cooperative manner while carrying out your duties;" and "[n]eglect of duty." Id.

Just prior to Plaintiff's resignation in February 2005, the CNA Board had 13 directors -- six African-Americans, six whites, and one Latino -- and CNA had a staff of 13 people -- six African-Americans, six whites, and one Latina. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 56-57; Def.'s Ex. 26 (4/11/06 Johnson Supp. Aff.) ¶¶ 18-19. Although Plaintiff asserts that CNA's "management staff at the time of her hiring was predominantly white and gay," Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 4, she does not provide record support for this statement, or indicate whom she considers included in the term "management staff."

B. Plaintiff's Performance as Director of Education Through Her June 2003 Evaluation

CNA, acting through Johnson, evaluates employees and considers salary increases annually, in late June or early July. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 9; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 31:12-32:3. CNA's evaluation form rates employees on 13 criteria, using a 5-point scale, where "1" is unsatisfactory, "2" is marginal, "3" is satisfactory, "4" is above average, and "5" is outstanding. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 9; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 3; Def.'s Ex. 6 (6/26/03 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form, introduced as Ex. 8 at 1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.).

Johnson normally does not do a formal evaluation for employees who have worked at CNA for fewer than six months; however, at Plaintiff's request, Johnson agreed to evaluate Plaintiff during CNA's June/July 2003 evaluation cycle, despite the fact that Plaintiff had been at CNA for only two months. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 18; Def.'s Ex. 26 (4/11/06 Johnson Supp. Aff.) ¶ 7. In Plaintiff's June 2003 evaluation, she received a "5" on the eight criteria on which she was evaluated -- "Attitude," "Initiative," "Open Mindedness," "Inter-personal Communication," "Self Confidence," "Assertiveness," "Work Habits," and "Quality/Quantity." Def.'s Ex. 6 (6/26/03 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form). Johnson did not evaluate Plaintiff on the other five criteria listed on the evaluation form because they were inapplicable to Plaintiff. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 19; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 61:4-18.

The CNA Board of Directors approves a ceiling for awarding raises to employees coincident with their annual performance evaluations; however, Johnson determines the amount of individual raises. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 10; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 9:7-10:7. Coincident with Plaintiff's June 2003 evaluation, Johnson raised Plaintiff's salary by $8,000 from $52,000 to $60,000 per year, making Plaintiff the third highest paid employee at CNA. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 20; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 60:8-21; Def.'s Ex. 6 (6/26/03 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form); Def.'s Ex. 26 (4/11/06 Johnson Supp. Aff.) ¶ 8. Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that she does not know how other CNA employees were evaluated in 2003, and that she does not know whether or the extent to which they received raises. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 21; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 62:4-63:3. However, Johnson avers that in June 2003, she gave a white female CNA employee who worked in a management position comparable to Plaintiff's an overall rating of "2" (marginal) and no raise, based primarily on a history of verbal abuse towards other staff. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 22; Def.'s Ex. 26 (4/11/06 Johnson Supp. Aff.) ¶ 9.

C. Plaintiff's Performance Between June 2003 and June 2004

Plaintiff asserts that "up to and including" the date of her June 2003 performance evaluation, she "had not had any adverse interaction with any of Defendant's employees." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 6 (citing Pl.'s Ex. C (6/26/03 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form)). However, according to Plaintiff, during late 2003 and early 2004, "her close association with [CNA's female, African-American Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Lisa Ransom] made her the subject of increased bias on the part of Johnson." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 12; Pl.'s Ex. A (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 82:15-21.*fn4 Plaintiff further asserts that in April 2004, she complained to Tim Kime, Vice- Chairman of the CNA Board of Directors, that Ransom "was being treated in a discriminatory way and that [Plaintiff] was in the cross-hairs of that," citing as evidence of Johnson's alleged bias her decision to strip Plaintiff of her responsibilities regarding a CNA program known as the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management (the "Post Award"), discussed in greater detail below. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 13; Pl.'s Ex. A (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 82:22-84:22. However, Plaintiff does not dispute CNA's assertion that "Johnson . . . did not know about [Plaintiff's conversations with Mr. Kime] prior to this litigation." Def.'s Reply at 8 (citing Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 22:16-21). As such, even if Plaintiff in fact complained to Mr. Kime during April 2004 regarding a perceived bias on the part of Johnson, it is uncontroverted that Johnson was unaware of such complaints at the time. Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 22:16-21).

For its part, CNA points to a number of incidents of which Johnson became aware prior to Plaintiff's next performance evaluation in July 2004.*fn5 These include:

1. Compensatory Time

During the fall of 2003, Plaintiff assigned herself compensatory time without approval from Johnson, in violation of CNA's Personnel Handbook. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23a; Def.'s Ex. 24 (Def.'s Ans. to Interrogs. #18(a)). Plaintiff does not deny misusing compensatory time, but rather asserts that her "alleged misuse of compensatory time" was "neither intentional nor a problem prior to the initiation of this lawsuit." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 38. Plaintiff also disputes CNA's assertion that Johnson counseled her about the matter. Id. ¶ 39.

2. Mendoza Complaint

In October 2003, CNA's Office Manager, Barbara Mendoza, left a message for Plaintiff regarding the security of the CNA conference room. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23b; Def.'s Ex. 28 (3/20/06 Mendoza Dep.) at 52:2-53:12.*fn6 CNA asserts that Plaintiff criticized Mendoza for leaving the message, calling Mendoza "unprofessional." Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23b; Def.'s Ex. 28 (3/20/06 Mendoza Dep.) at 53:13-55:8. During her deposition in this matter, Mendoza testified that Plaintiff called her unprofessional, Def.'s Ex. 28 (3/20/06 Mendoza Dep.) at 53:13-55:8; however, Plaintiff denies calling Mendoza unprofessional, Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 33; Pl.'s Ex. A (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 122:7-13). As a result, a factual dispute exists as to whether Plaintiff, in fact, called Mendoza unprofessional. Nevertheless, during her deposition Mendoza testified that she reported the interaction to Johnson, including telling Johnson that Plaintiff had called Mendoza unprofessional. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23b; Def.'s Ex. 28 (3/20/06 Mendoza Dep.) at 55:9-56:22; 75:2-9. Likewise, Johnson testified during her deposition that Mendoza reported to her that Plaintiff called Mendoza unprofessional. Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 133:6-21. As such, while Plaintiff disputes calling Mendoza unprofessional, she cannot controvert the evidence that Mendoza reported as much to Johnson.*fn7

Plaintiff further asserts that the Mendoza incident is insignificant because "Johnson, after discussing the alleged incident with Mendoza, said that she did not think it . . . was a problem." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 35 (citing Pl.'s Ex. F (1/12/06 Johnson Dep. at 136)). Plaintiff accurately reports Johnson's deposition testimony, but fails to note that in her deposition, Johnson continued to explain that the Mendoza incident was the first involving Plaintiff to come to Johnson's attention, and that Johnson eventually came to consider the Mendoza incident problematic "[a]fter there were a series of complaints." Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 135:19-137:6. As such, Plaintiff's attempt to downplay the Mendoza incident does not undercut the evidence that Mendoza reported to Johnson that Plaintiff called Mendoza unprofessional.

3. Workshop Funds

In January 2004, Plaintiff was responsible for collecting fees charged by CNA for a workshop, and for turning the fees over to CNA's bookkeeper for deposit. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23e; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 107:21-109:9. In February, during a routine audit of CNA's finances, Plaintiff was found to have receipts from the workshop still in her possession and to have borrowed cash from the receipts to purchase lunch. Id. As a result, CNA received a "management letter" from its auditor criticizing CNA for poor handling of funds. Id. Plaintiff does not dispute these facts, but asserts that, like her misuse of compensatory time, her "withholding of corporate funds was neither intentional nor a problem prior to the initiation of this lawsuit." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 38 (citing Pl.'s Ex. A (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 108). Plaintiff's attempt to downplay the incident, however, raises no factual issue as to whether Plaintiff improperly retained CNA funds and used them for personal purposes.

4. Kost Conference Room Incident

In February 2004, Plaintiff had a disagreement with Kost about the use of CNA's conference room, after which Plaintiff claimed Kost was disrespectful towards her and demanded that he apologize. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23f; Def.'s Ex. 25 (1/12/06 Kost Dep.) at 12:8-15:22; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 23. Plaintiff claims that "Kost testified that he never met with Johnson, nor did he communicate via e-mail or telephone with her to specifically complaint about [Plaintiff]." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 24 (citing Pl.'s Ex. G (2/23/06 Kost Dep.) at 26-27). However, Plaintiff's assertion obscures the fact that while Kost testified that he did not speak with Johnson specifically to complain about Plaintiff, he also testified that he reported the conference room incident to Johnson and that he considered Plaintiff's behavior confrontational. Def.'s Ex. 25 (1/12/06 Kost Dep.) at 20:10-15; Pl.'s Ex. G (2/23/06 Kost Dep.) at 14:21-16:10; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 109:18-23; 112:10-18. Johnson investigated the incident involving Plaintiff and Kost, "but could find no evidence that [Kost] had been disrespectful," finding instead that "[Plaintiff] had been inflexible in her position and unnecessarily confrontational." Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23f; Def.'s Ex. 23 (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 126:2-7. Although Plaintiff takes issue with "Johnson's alleged inquiry into the matter," Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 26, neither Plaintiff's justifications of her behavior nor her dissatisfaction with Johnson's inquiry into the incident raises a factual question as to whether the incident actually occurred and was reported to Johnson by Kost.

5. Baird Incident

In February 2004, CNA employee Jeremy Baird questioned an African-American visitor, who was unaccompanied in CNA's office, concerning her presence at CNA. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23g; Def.'s Ex. 30 (4/5/06 Baird Dep.) at 16:16-17:21; 45:17-47:20. Plaintiff does not dispute that she did not witness the incident, but nevertheless encouraged the visitor to make a written complaint. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23g; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 224:8-12. CNA does not indicate that Johnson relied on the Baird incident in conducting Plaintiff's July 2004 evaluation and any dispute regarding the facts of the incident are therefore immaterial. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 21-22. However, Plaintiff maintains that, in connection with her July 2004 evaluation, Johnson told Plaintiff that Baird had complained about Plaintiff's involvement in the incident, and that Johnson has since "recanted and changed her story about Baird's negative comments, saying that Baird never complained about [Plaintiff]." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 25 (citing Pl.'s Ex. A (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 118:21-122:6). Indeed, Plaintiff asserts, "Baird testified that he never complained to anyone about [Plaintiff]." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 25 (citing Pl.'s Ex. I (4/5/06 Baird Dep.) at 15:12-14).

While Johnson did testify at her deposition that Baird did not complain to her electronically about Plaintiff, Plaintiff provides no evidence that Johnson altogether denied receiving a complaint from Baird, rather than that Johnson was aware of the incident. Pl.'s Ex. F (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 108:23-109:5. Moreover, Plaintiff's detailed notes of the meeting during which she alleges Johnson told her that Baird complained about her do not substantiate Plaintiff's claim. See Def.'s Ex. 18 (Pl.'s Notes of 8/6/04 meeting with Johnson). Instead, Plaintiff's notes indicate that Johnson discussed the incident with Plaintiff, telling Plaintiff that she believed Plaintiff had "offended" Baird, see id. at 4, that Johnson believed Plaintiff had inappropriately insinuated that Baird treated the African-American visitor poorly, and that Johnson believed Plaintiff had not made any attempt to diffuse the situation, id. at 6-7. Plaintiff's assertion that Johnson told Plaintiff that Baird complained about her, and that Johnson has since "recanted and changed her story about Baird's negative comments," Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 25, is thus unsupported by anything other than Plaintiff's own testimony to that effect.

6. Sanow Incident

Among other things, CNA ran a program known as the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management (the "Post Award"), which was created and managed by CNA employee Susan Sanow for ten years. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23c; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 63:12-64:11. Sanow resigned from CNA in November 2003, and upon Sanow's resignation, Johnson assigned management of the Post Award to Plaintiff. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23c; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 66:12-18. Sanow continued, however, to serve as a consultant on the Post Award. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23h; Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 66:22-67:4; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 28. In March 2004, Sanow sent Plaintiff an e-mail in which she raised concerns regarding the late delivery of applicant materials and inconsistencies within the materials, reminded Plaintiff of upcoming critical deadlines, and offered Plaintiff help if necessary. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23h; Def.'s Ex. 7 (3/23/04 e-mail from Sanow to Valles-Hall). At the end of her e-mail, Sanow stated, "I know this e-mail is a bit negative, but I ask these questions out of concern and commitment to this program" Def.'s Ex. 7 (3/23/04 e-mail from Sanow to Valles-Hall). Plaintiff responded to Sanow's e-mail with her own e-mail, stating "Yes, the tone is negative and unnecessarily so." Def.'s Ex. 8 (3/24/04 e-mail from Valles-Hall to Sanow). Johnson was copied on both Sanow's initial e-mail and Plaintiff's response e-mail. Def.'s Ex. 7 (3/23/04 e-mail from Sanow to Valles-Hall) and Ex. 8 (3/24/04 e-mail from Valles-Hall to Sanow).

Plaintiff attempts to downplay this interaction by contrasting Johnson's deposition testimony that she found Plaintiff's use of the words "and unnecessarily so" to be "angry and defensive," Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 31 (citing Pl.'s Ex. F (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 205:2-207:12, with Sanow's deposition testimony that she was not offended by Plaintiff's response e-mail, Id. ¶ 30 (citing Pl.'s Ex. J (2/28/06 Sanow Dep.) at 34:21-35:4. Whether or not Sanow was "offended" by Plaintiff's e-mail, however, does not undercut Sanow's testimony that she reported the interaction to Johnson because "in addition to this e-mail, [she] also received a phone call from [Plaintiff] berating me and [she] felt the double whammy of phone call and e-mail was uncalled for." Pl.'s Ex. J (2/28/06 Sanow Dep.) at 35:10-16.

7. Plaintiff's Post Award Complaint

In April 2004, Sanow's employer offered to allow Sanow to manage the Post Award without cost to CNA. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23i; Def.'s Ex. 29 (2/28/06 Sanow Dep.) at 40:21-41:1. CNA asserts that Johnson accepted the offer because it amounted to a substantial gift in kind, because Sanow was very experienced in managing the Post Award, and because Johnson was not satisfied with Plaintiff's management of the Post Award to that point. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23i; Pl.'s Ex. F (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 165:6-21. Plaintiff complained to Johnson about the decision to strip Plaintiff of responsibility for managing the Post Award, and sent Johnson a memo detailing her concerns with the manner in which the Post Award management issue was handled. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 23i, Def.'s Ex. 9 (5/11/04 memo from Valles-Hall to Johnson re: Issues of Concern & Discussion). Johnson testified in her deposition that when she tried to explain the Post Award management decision to Plaintiff, Plaintiff accused Johnson of "intentionally being disrespectful or thoughtless . . . I had the distinct impression that she thought I had intentionally ruined her reputation." Pl.'s Ex. F (1/12/06 Johnson Dep.) at 136:19-137:6. Johnson further testified that this conversation was the first time that Plaintiff spoke to her in a disrespectful manner. Id. at 137:9-11. Plaintiff does not dispute CNA's account of these events, but rather argues that CNA's assertion that Plaintiff "was incompetent in her handling of the Washington Post Award [is] . . . unsubstantiated," because Sanow testified that she continued to maintain confidence in Plaintiff's ability to manage the award. Pl.'s Opp'n at 21 (citing Sanow Dep. at 42-43).*fn8 Sanow testimony that she maintained confidence in Plaintiff's ability to run the Post Award, however, is entirely irrelevant to whether Johnson made a legitimate business decision regarding management of the Post Award.

D. Plaintiff's July 2004 Evaluation and Subsequent Complaints

1. Plaintiff's July 2004 Evaluation

Johnson's annual evaluation of Plaintiff took place over the course of two days, July 7 and July 8, 2004. Def.'s Ex. 11 (7/7/04 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form); Def.'s Ex. 1 (1/4/06 Valles-Hall Dep.) at 110:2-21. Johnson gave Plaintiff a "5" (outstanding) on five of 13 criteria ("Self Confidence;" "Job-Knowledge;" "Quality/Quantity;" "Decision Making;" and "Motivating"); a "4" (above average) on three criteria ("Initiative;" "Planning;" and "Leadership"); and a "3" (satisfactory) on five criteria ("Attitude;" "Open Mindedness;" "Interpersonal Communication;" "Assertiveness;" and "Work Habits"). Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 26; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 14; Def.'s Ex. 11 (7/7/04 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form). Johnson included a number of handwritten comments on Plaintiff's Personnel Review Form, including "responds with inflammatory remarks;" "needs work on staff;" "in conflicts in the office; reactions need work;" and "you need to work harder at solving problems with colleagues and refrain from telling them your judgment of them." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 14; Def.'s Ex. 11 (7/7/04 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form).

Coincident with Plaintiff's July 2004 evaluation, Johnson raised Plaintiff's salary from $60,000 per year to $61,800 per year, a 3% increase. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 27; Def.'s Ex. 11 (7/7/04 Valles-Hall Personnel Review Form). At that salary, Plaintiff continued to be the third highest paid CNA employee, after Johnson and Kost. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 27; Def.'s Ex. 26 (4/11/06 Johnson Supp. Aff.) ¶ 11. Plaintiff asserts that "[b]ased upon Defendant's negative evaluation, Johnson gave Plaintiff a 3% [sic] rather than the higher percentage paid to all other management staff." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 15. Plaintiff provides no support for her suggestion that other CNA management received larger raises, and indeed, during her deposition, admitted that she does not know ...


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