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Jones v. Bernanke

February 15, 2010

CHARLES B. JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document Nos.: 62, 64

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO SUPPLEMENT THE COMPLAINT; DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISCOVERY

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the plaintiff's motion for leave to supplement his complaint and motion for discovery. The plaintiff, a former employee of the Federal Reserve, commenced this action alleging that the defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his age and gender and retaliated against him for participating in protected activity, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 633a et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-1 et seq. The court granted summary judgment to the defendant on all of the plaintiff's claims. On appeal, the Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's discrimination claims but remanded the plaintiff's retaliation claims for further proceedings. The plaintiff now moves to supplement his complaint to add claims of additional retaliatory treatment and constructive discharge. In addition, the plaintiff seeks discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f).

Because the plaintiff's proposed supplemental claims are not futile and because permitting supplementation would not significantly prejudice the defendant, the court grants the plaintiff's motion for leave to supplement the complaint. The court, however, denies without prejudice the plaintiff's Rule 56(f) motion for discovery as that motion is premature.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The factual background and procedural history underlying this case are detailed in the prior decisions of this court and the Circuit. See, e.g., Mem. Op. (Mar. 10, 2008) at 2-5; Jones v. Bernanke, 550 F.3d 670, 672-74 (D.C. Cir. 2009). By way of brief background, the plaintiff alleges that in March 1998, Michael Martinson, his then-supervisor, did not promote him to a managerial position and instead selected a younger woman for the position. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 9-10. The plaintiff suspected that his age or gender was a factor in his non-selection, but did not file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") because Martinson and another supervisor, William Ryback, assured him that he would receive a one-level promotion. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. After the promised promotion did not materialize, in November 1999, the plaintiff filed an informal charge with the defendant's EEOC office. Id. ¶ 17. The plaintiff then filed a formal administrative complaint in January 2000. See Def.'s First Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 4.

The plaintiff alleges that after he filed the administrative complaint, Martinson unjustifiably downgraded his performance evaluations from "outstanding" in 1999 to "commendable" in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Am. Compl. ¶ 18. The plaintiff contends that these "false" and "disparaging" performance evaluations were given in retaliation for his participation in protected EEOC activity. Id. ¶ 27.

The plaintiff filed his original complaint in this court on October 4, 2004, alleging that the defendant unlawfully retaliated against him in violation of Title VII and the ADEA by giving him downgraded performance evaluations for the years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. See generally Compl. On December 13, 2005, the court granted summary judgment to the defendant on all of the plaintiff's claims except for the one based on his performance evaluation for the year 2000. See generally Mem. Op. (Dec. 13, 2005).

On August 29, 2006, the court granted the plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint to assert a disparate treatment claim under Title VII and the ADEA based on his non-selection for the manager position. See generally Mem. Op. (Aug. 29, 2006). In a memorandum opinion dated June 11, 2007, the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on his non-selection claim and allotted thirty days for the defendant to file a motion addressing the retaliation claim based on the 2000 performance evaluation. See generally Mem. Op. (June 11, 2007). On March 10, 2008, the court granted summary judgment to the defendant on the plaintiff's remaining retaliation claim based on his 2000 performance evaluation, thus disposing of all of the plaintiff's claims. See generally Mem. Op. (Mar. 10, 2008).

On appeal, the Circuit affirmed the court's dismissal of the plaintiff's disparate treatment claim, but reversed the court's ruling on the plaintiff's claim regarding his 2000 performance evaluation, holding that the plaintiff had offered sufficient evidence to permit a reasonable jury to believe that the performance evaluation constituted retaliation. Jones, 557 F.3d at 674, 679-81. In addition, the Circuit reversed the court's ruling on the plaintiff's claims based on his 2001, 2002 and 2003 performance evaluations and remanded those claims for further proceedings. Id. at 681.

Following remand, the plaintiff filed this motion to supplement the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(d). See generally Pl.'s Mot. to Supplement Compl. The plaintiff seeks to add a claim regarding the performance evaluation he received in 2004, which assigned the plaintiff a marginal rating in several performance categories and which the plaintiff contends was retaliatory like the performance evaluations given in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. See id. at 8-13. In addition, the plaintiff seeks to add a claim for constructive discharge, alleging that the defendant's retaliatory behavior forced him to resign from his position in August 2005. See id.

On June 29, 2009, the plaintiff filed a motion for discovery. See generally Pl.'s Mot. for Discovery. Through this motion, the plaintiff seeks to augment the discovery he obtained at the administrative level under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f), which authorizes discovery to permit a party to obtain facts essential to justify its opposition to a motion for summary judgment. See generally id.

Both motions are now ripe. See generally Def.'s Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. to Supplement Compl. & Pl.'s Mot. for Discovery ("Def.'s Opp'n"); Pl.'s Reply in Support of Mot. to Supplement Compl. ("Pl.'s Reply"). The court now turns to an analysis ...


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