Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Udoh v. Trade Center Management Associates

March 27, 2007

EKANEM H. UDOH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRADE CENTER MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff alleges that his employer, defendant Trade Center Management Associates ("TCMA"), engaged in race, color, national origin, and sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 162 et seq. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition, the reply, and the entire record in this case, the Court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment and will enter judgment for the defendant on all claims.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Ekanem H. Udoh is a black Nigerian man, who was 52 years old at the time of the events in question. See Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 1. He was employed as a banquet server for TCMA. See id. ¶ 7. TCMA is a building management and hospitality services provider that provides banquet and other services at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center ("Reagan Building") in Washington, D.C. See Defendant's Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute ("Def. SMF") ¶ 1. To increase security and sensitivity to workplace violence post-September 11, 2001, TCMA decided to enforce a no-tolerance rule prohibiting physically threatening conduct and confrontations in the workplace. See id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff knew of TCMA's rule prohibiting physical confrontations with his co-workers and that violating this policy could result in termination. See Ekanem Udoh Deposition, Def. Attach. C, ("Udoh Dep.") at 41-43, 48.

On May 26, 2004, plaintiff worked the morning coffee break, transporting items to and from the banquet room with a cart. See Udoh Dep. at 21-22. He started work at 5:30 a.m. and used the transport cart, which he dressed himself, throughout the morning. See id. at 19. Because there were not enough carts, other employees came into his work area to obtain carts. See id. Wanda Paz, an employee from another department, entered plaintiff's area and took the cart plaintiff had used throughout the morning. See id. Another employee told plaintiff that Ms. Paz took his cart, despite this employee's attempt to prevent her from doing so. See id. Plaintiff went to the Reagan Building's B2 level, where Ms. Paz works, to look for Ms. Paz and the cart. See id.; Def. SMF ¶ 7.

After finding Ms. Paz and the cart, plaintiff told her that he needed to take the cart back in order to perform his duties on coffee break detail. See Udoh Dep. at 29. Plaintiff insisted that he would be late in performing his duties if he did not return with the cart immediately, and he told Ms. Paz that he was taking the cart back to his area. See id. at 35. Ms. Paz held on to the cart's handle. See id at 35-36. Plaintiff lifted her hand off the cart, testifying that he used his right hand to grab Ms. Paz's right hand and wrist. See Udoh Dep. at 36. Plaintiff said he used his left hand to pull the cart toward him, "sort of like a push and pull at the same time" so she would release the cart. Id. at 36-37. After plaintiff removed Ms. Paz's hand from the cart, he returned with his cart to the work area because he feared being disciplined if he did not tend to his coffee break duties, which required the cart's use. See id. at 24-28.

That same day, Ms. Paz complained to her supervisors, stating that Udoh had used physical force against her. See Def. SMF ¶ 10. Her supervisors informed Don Shapiro, TCMA's Vice President of Food and Beverage, and Mr. Shapiro informed Linda Regner Sickel, TCMA's Vice President of Human Resources for the Reagan Building. See id. ¶ 10. Later that day, Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Sickel discussed the incident with plaintiff. See id. ¶ 11. At that time, plaintiff also submitted a written statement. See id. ¶ 12. Both verbally and in the written statement, plaintiff admitted that he touched Ms. Paz's hand to get her to let go of the cart. See id. ¶¶ 11-13. Although plaintiff disputes the extent of force he used against Ms. Paz, it is undisputed that Ms. Paz went to the hospital, missed two days of work pursuant to a doctor's orders, and wore a splint on her wrist for two to three months after the incident. See Def. SMF ¶¶ 23-24.

During the following twenty-four hours, Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Sickel interviewed Ms. Paz and several witnesses, each of whom gave a written statement. See Def. SMF ¶ 13. The statements all supported Ms. Paz's account. See id. ¶¶ 14-15 (describing plaintiff grabbing Ms. Paz's arm and twisting it). On May 28, 2004, defendant terminated plaintiff for violating its rule against physical threats and confrontations when he physically removed Ms. Paz's hand from the cart in a forceful manner. See Def. SMF ¶ 17; Plaintiff's Opposition ("Pl. Opp.") at 2-3, Response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Pl. SMF") ¶ 17

Plaintiff makes two claims of employment discrimination, occurring on May 28, 2004. Mr. Udoh alleges that: (1) defendant terminated plaintiff for discriminatory reasons relating to plaintiff's race (African), color (black), national origin (Nigeria), and sex (male), see Compl. ¶ 14; (2) defendant terminated plaintiff for discriminatory reasons relating to plaintiff's age (52) at the time of termination. See id. ¶ 15.*fn1

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Summary Judgment

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment may be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with any affidavits or declarations show 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) Material facts are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see Holcomb v. Powell, 433 F.3d 889, 895 (D.C. Cir. 2006). In considering a summary judgment motion, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 255; see Mastro v. Potomac Electric Power Co., 447 F.3d 843, 849-50 (D.C. Cir. 2006); Aka v. Washington Hospital Center, 156 F.3d 1284, 1288 (D.C. Cir.1998) (en banc).

The non-moving party's opposition, however, must consist of more than unsupported allegations or denials and must be supported by affidavits, declarations or other competent evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).The evidence must allow a jury reasonably to find for the plaintiff; if the non-movant's evidence is "merely colorable" or "not significantly probative," summary judgment may be granted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 249-50. To defeat summary judgment, a plaintiff must produce more than "a scintilla of evidence to support his claims." Freedman v. MCI Telecommunications Corp., 255 F.3d 840, 845 (D.C. Cir. 2001). In an employment discrimination case, "[u]sually, proffering evidence from which a jury could find that the employer's stated reasons were ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.