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Ibrahim v. Unisys Corp.

October 27, 2008

BILL IBRAHIM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNISYS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Bill Ibrahim worked for Unisys Corporation until his resignation in October 2005. He complains of a hostile work environment, discrimination and retaliation due to his country of national origin (Somalia), race and/or religion, and protected activity. Unisys moves to dismiss the entire complaint, as time-barred or for failure to state a claim. Mr. Ibrahim's claims under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. Code § 2-1401 et seq., will not be dismissed as time-barred because his timely filing of a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which in turn cross-filed with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights ("DCOHR"), tolled the one-year statute of limitations for filing a private cause of action under the DCHRA. The allegations under the DCHRA and the same allegations brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), also will not be dismissed, as the Complaint makes out viable claims sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

Mr. Ibrahim is a Muslim from Somalia who is now a citizen of the United States. Compl. ¶ 6 [Dkt. #1].*fn1 He started to work for Unisys in September 2002 and resigned on October 21, 2005. Id. ¶¶ 6, 18. At all times, his direct supervisor was Paul Testa, whom Mr. Ibrahim alleges "had disdain" for Mr. Ibrahim because he is from Somalia, is a Muslim, and possesses dark skin. Id. ¶¶ 8, 16. Mr. Ibrahim alleges that Mr. Testa "created and sustained" a hostile work environment. Id. ¶ 10. He asserts that this hostile work environment was demonstrated by Mr. Testa "routinely doing the following":

a. Reject[ing] time sheets submitted by Mr. Ibrahim without justification [thus reducing his pay];

b. Reject[ing] training vouchers submitted by Mr. Ibrahim and denying him the opportunity to receive training which would [have] allow[ed] him to advance in his profession;

c. Reject[ing] expense vouchers submitted by Mr. Ibrahim again without justification[, which meant that Mr. Ibrahim was never reimbursed for many of the expenses he incurred while traveling as part of his work for Unisys];

d. Routinely deny[ing] requests for vacation made by Mr. Ibrahim again without justification;

e. Refus[ing] to sign [security] clearance sheets submitted by Mr. Ibrahim again in doing so den[ying] Ibrahim the opportunity to advance in the company; [and]

f. Routinely call[ing] Mr. Ibrahim names in the workplace such as nigger and boy [and] . . . further stat[ing] that if Mr. Ibrahim contacted the Human Resources Department nothing would happen and at one point stated that if HR [were] called, ["]I will hang you.["]

Id. ¶ 17. No other similarly situated employees of Unisys were treated in such a way as Mr. Ibrahim. Id. More specifically, Mr. Ibrahim asserts that Mr. Testa told him, in July 2003, that he was not going anywhere in the company, id. ¶ 10; that in December 2003, Mr. Testa "referred to the incident in Somalia in the early 1990's involving U.S. servicemen and further stated in Mr. Ibrahim's presence that all Somalis should be hung," id. ¶ 11; and that Mr. Testa demoted Mr. Ibrahim from his position as a team leader in 2004 without explanation or justification, id. ¶ 12. Further, he alleges that he was not promoted in October 2004 or June 2005 due to his national origin, race or color, and that less qualified white candidates were selected instead. Id. ¶ 14. Mr. Ibrahim alleges that he first contacted the Unisys Human Resources Department ("HR") in late 2004 to complain about Mr. Testa, and spoke to them repeatedly in 2005, but no corrective action was taken. Id. ¶ 18

Mr. Ibrahim resigned from Unisys on October 21, 2005. Id. He alleges that his resignation was "in effect" a constructive discharge. Id. He filed a charge with the federal EEOC on June 9, 2006, alleging violations of both the DCHRA and Title VII. See id. ¶ 4; see also Mem. in Support of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ("Def.'s Mem."), Ex. 1 (Decl. of John P. Monaghan ("Monaghan Decl.") ¶ 3, Ex. A). At that time, the EEOC and the DCOHR had a worksharing agreement, pursuant to which a charge filed with one agency was considered filed with the other and was investigated by the agency with which it was initially filed. See Def.'s Mem., Ex. 2 (Decl. of Brian Steinbach ("Steinbach Decl.") ¶¶ 3, 5, Exs. B & D).*fn2 On June 22, 2006, the EEOC notified the DCOHR of Mr. Ibrahim's charge. Steinbach Decl. ¶¶ 3-4, Exs. B & C. Pursuant to the worksharing agreement, the DCOHR declined to assert jurisdiction over the complaint and instead deferred its jurisdiction to the EEOC to investigate. Id. ¶¶ 3-5, Exs. B-D.

The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter to Mr. Ibrahim on September 25, 2007, stating that, "[b]ased upon its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statute." See Monaghan Decl., Ex. E. Mr. Ibrahim filed suit on December 20, 2007. See Compl. Count I of the Complaint alleges that Mr. Ibrahim was subjected to a hostile work environment, not promoted, and otherwise harassed due to his country of national origin, race, and/or religion, in violation of Title VII. Count II of the Complaint advances the same allegations, charging that they also violate the DCHRA. In Count III, Mr. Ibrahim alleges that after he complained ...


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