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Hairsine v. James

June 19, 2007

JACK R. HAIRSINE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRUCE R. JAMES PUBLIC PRINTER OF THE U.S. PRINTING OFFICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Jack R. Hairsine, a Caucasian, was not selected for three positions at the Government Printing Office ("GPO") that were awarded to three African-Americans. He sues Bruce R. James, head of the GPO, in his official capacity, alleging reverse discrimination based on race and color. The government has filed a motion for summary judgment, which Mr. Hairsine opposes. The Court finds that Mr. Hairsine has presented argument but not evidence to dispute the government's motion. It will therefore grant the motion for summary judgment and dismiss this suit.

I. BACKGROUND

Mr. Hairsine is a Caucasian male who at all relevant times was employed as an offset stripper in the Copy Prep Unit of the Pre-Press Section of the Electronic Printing Division of GPO. Compl. ¶ 7. Three vacancy announcements were posted for the Copy Prep Unit in April 2004: (1) Vacancy Announcement 04-162 for a "Head Deskperson" for Shift 1; (2) Vacancy Announcement 04-161 for a "Head Deskperson" for Shift 2, and (3) Vacancy Announcement 04-163, for a "Group Chief" position for Shift 3. Mr. Hairsine applied for all three positions but was not selected. Def.'s Statement of Material Facts as to Which There is No Genuine Dispute ("Def.'s Facts") ¶ 2.

Dannie Young, Assistant Production Manager in the Production Department, was the selecting official for the three vacancies. See id. Ex. 1 (Young Aff.). He requested recommendations from Frederick Hall, one of his direct reports and the foreperson of the Section in which the Copy Prep Unit was located. See id. Mr. Hall had been the direct foreperson of the Copy Prep Unit until about one year before the selections, when he was promoted and William Milans became direct foreperson of the Copy Prep Unit. See Pl.'s Mem. Opposing Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Mem.") at 3. Messrs. Hall and Young are both African-American and Mr. Milans is Caucasian. Id. Exs. 1 (Young Aff.) & 3 (Hall Aff.); Def.'s Reply Ex. 7 (Milans Aff.). Mr. Hall reviewed all of the applications and made recommendations to Mr. Young. Pl.'s Mem. Ex. 3. Relying in part on those recommendations, Mr. Young made his selection decisions. Def.'s Facts Ex. 2 (Young Suppl. Aff.). Mr. Hall and Mr. Hairsine are personal friends. Id. Ex. 3 (Hairsine Dep.) at 105-06.

Mr. Hall recommended to Mr. Young that he select Sarah Pitt, an African-American, for the Head Deskperson position for Shift 1 (the day shift). Pl.'s Mem. Exs. 3 & 4 (Hall Suppl. Aff.); Def.'s Facts Ex. 2. Ms. Pitt had been employed at the GPO for approximately 30 years and had been working as an offset stripper since 1984. Pl.'s Mem. Ex. 7 (Pitt Appl.). At the time of the vacancy in question, Ms. Pitt was working on Shift 1 and Mr. Hall believed that she was familiar with the overall operation of the office and her shift duties. Def.'s Facts Ex. 4 (Hall Dep.) at 44-46. She also had experience acting as the Head Deskperson for Shift 2 (the swing shift). Id. at 58-60. Mr. Young selected Ms. Pitt in part based on Mr. Hall's recommendation. Id. Ex. 2. He understood that certain duties performed during Shift 1 - such as dealing with the Code of Federal Regulations and Presidential Documents - were primarily performed only during Shift 1. Id. He concluded that Ms. Pitt was the best candidate to understand and direct the work on Shift 1. Id. At the time of the selections, Mr. Hairsine was working on Shift 2 and had not worked full-time on Shift 1 for 10 years. Id. Ex. 3 at 33-34, 70.

Mr. Hall recommended to Mr. Young that he select Fletcher Ruffin, an African-American, for the Head Deskperson position for Shift 2. Pl.'s Mem. Ex. 4. Like Ms. Pitt, Mr. Ruffin had approximately 30 years experience working for the GPO. Id. Ex. 6 (Ruffin Appl.). Mr. Young selected Mr. Ruffin. Id. Ex. 2. While Mr. Hairsine initially challenged this selection, he has withdrawn his challenge, acknowledging that he was not better qualified than Mr. Ruffin. See Pl.'s Mem. at 9 ("Undisputed (as to Mr. Ruffin only)" that "Plaintiff does not believe that he was better qualified than Mr. Ruffin for the Head Deskperson position for Shift 2.").

With respect to the third vacancy, for the Group Chief position for Shift 3 (the graveyard shift), Mr. Hall recommended to Mr. Young that he select Charles Brown, an African-American. Pl.'s Mem. Ex. 4 Unlike the Head Deskperson jobs, the Group Chief position is a supervisory role and higher in rank. Id. Ex. 2. As with the others who were selected to fill the vacancies, Mr. Brown had worked at the GPO for decades. See id. Ex. 12 (Brown Appl.). Mr. Hall believed that Mr. Brown had demonstrated leadership capabilities while working on Shift 3 and that Mr. Brown had shown more initiative than Mr. Hairsine. Id. Ex. 4. Mr. Hall found Mr. Brown to be "very personable," "knowledgeable about all the operations" done in the Copy Prep Unit, and an excellent worker. Def.'s Facts Ex. 4 at 60-61. Mr. Young selected Mr. Brown, based in part on Mr. Hall's recommendation. Pl.'s Mem. Ex. 2. In addition, Mr. Young selected Mr. Brown because he believed that Mr. Brown had been performing most of the duties of the Group Chief position on an informal basis before the vacancy announcement for the position had been posted. See id.

Mr. Hairsine filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 3, 2004. After receiving an adverse decision from the EEOC, Mr. Hairsine filed this action on September 23, 2005. He seeks damages and injunctive relief ordering the GPO to promote him to either Head Deskperson or Group Chief. On January 4, 2007, the government moved for summary judgment. That motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for decision.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Summary Judgment

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Moreover, summary judgment is properly granted against a party that "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion . . . fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true.

Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. The nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements. Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999); Harding v. Gray, 9 F.3d 150, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1993). Rather, the nonmoving party must present specific facts that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. Greene, 164 F.3d at 675. If the evidence "is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).

B. Reverse Discrimination Under Title VII

Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer "to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). When a plaintiff has no direct evidence of discrimination, the Court applies the burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), under which a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of discrimination in order to shift the burden to the employer-defendant to establish a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the employment action; and, if the defendant establishes such a ...


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