The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge
Plaintiff Denise Colbert is an African-American female employed by the Customer Services section of the Government Printing Office ("GPO"). In late December 2005 two vacancy announcements for positions in that section were posted, and Ms. Colbert applied for each. On or about January 20, 2006, the positions were filled by white male applicants. Ms. Colbert then sued GPO, alleging race and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. GPO now moves for summary judgment on Ms. Colbert's claims.
On December 29, 2005, GPO posted two vacancy announcements for Supervisory Printing Services Specialists in the Customer Services Section of Congressional Publishing Services. Compl. ¶ 11. Ms. Colbert timely submitted applications for each position. Id. ¶ 12. Each vacancy announcement contained a section titled "How You Will Be Evaluated" that stated that the candidates would be evaluated based on their qualifications and their narrative responses to the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics ("KSAOs") described in the announcements.
See Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") [Dkt. # 22], Exs. 7 & 8 (Supervisory Printing Services Specialist Vacancy Announcements). Jerry Hammond, Director of Congressional Publishing Services for the Customer Services Division, who was charged with selecting among the applicants, did not interview any of the candidates for the positions, but rather evaluated them based on the content of their applications and his personal knowledge of their work. See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mem.") [Dkt. # 20] at 9. Lyle Green, the Associate Director, assisted him in making the decisions. Id.
In January 2006, Mr. Hammond and Mr. Green selected Joseph Benjamin and William Milans, both white males, for the vacant positions. Compl. ¶ 14; Pl.'s Opp'n at 3. Mr. Benjamin was hired for the day-shift position, which had been advertised at grade PG-14, and Mr. Milans was hired for the night-shift position, which had been advertised at grade PG-13/14. See Pl.'s Opp'n, Exs. 7 & 8 (Supervisory Printing Services Specialist Vacancy Announcements). Prior to the posting of the vacancy announcements, Mr. Hammond requested that the night-shift position be advertised at the PG-13/14 level to encourage applications from more candidates who had previous night-shift experience. See Def.'s Mem., Ex. 9 ("Hammond Aff.") at 7; see Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 3 ("Hammond Dep.") at 31-32. Immediately prior to their selection, Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Milans had been employed in the Congressional Publishing Services section as PG-13 Printing Specialists. Pl.'s Opp'n at 3. Mr. Milans, however, had not been employed at grade PG-13 for sufficient time to qualify for the PG-14 day-shift position and was only qualified for the PG-13/14 night-shift position. Id. Ms. Colbert was employed at grade PG-13, as well, and was qualified for both positions. In fact, at either position Ms. Colbert was eligible for and would have received a promotion to grade PG-14. See Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 2 ("Colbert Decl.") ¶¶ 2 & 17.
Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). 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 (1986). 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; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
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. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Id. In addition, 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).
Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in hiring decisions, in compensation, terms, and conditions of employment, and in classifying employees in a way that would adversely affect their status as employees. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16. To establish a prima facie case of discrimination, a plaintiff must show 1) that he is a member of a protected class; 2) that he suffered an adverse personnel action; 3) under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. Brown v. Brody, 199 F.3d 446, 452 (D.C. Cir. 1999).
Once a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, then the burden shifts to the defendant to "articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason" for the employer's action. Tex. Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53 (1981); McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff then must have the opportunity to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the legitimate reasons offered by the employer were not its true reasons, but were a "pretext" for discrimination. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 253; McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 804. However, where an employee has suffered an adverse employment action and an employer has asserted a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the decision, the district court need not - and should not - decide whether plaintiff actually made out a prima facie case under McDonnell Douglas.
Brady v. Office of the Sergeant at Arms, 520 F.3d 490, 494 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (emphasis in original). Rather, the court should move directly to the third prong of the McDonnell Douglas framework and consider only whether the plaintiff has provided sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to ...