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Lewis v. District of Columbia

September 8, 2010

TANYA LEWIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



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

Re Document Nos.: 58, 62

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RELIEF UPON RECONSIDERATION; GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CORRECT THE RECORD

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff, an African-American woman, has asserted claims of gender-based disparate treatment, retaliation, hostile work environment and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., based on her non-selection for a supervisory position within the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ("DCRA"). In a memorandum opinion issued on September 14, 2009, the court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff on her disparate treatment claims, concluding that she had set forth a prima facie case of disparate treatment and that the defendant had failed to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for the plaintiff's non-selection. The court, however, granted summary judgment to the defendant on the plaintiff's remaining claims.

This matter is now before the court on the defendant's motion for relief upon reconsideration of that portion of the court's September 14, 2009 ruling granting summary judgment to the plaintiff on her disparate treatment claims. The defendant asserts, much as it did in its prior motion for summary judgment, that the plaintiff's disparate treatment claims fail because the plaintiff did not assert that she was treated differently from a similarly situated male applicant. For the reasons discussed below and in the court's prior memorandum opinion, the court denies the defendant's motion for relief upon reconsideration.*fn1

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The court has recounted the facts underlying this case on two prior occasions, see Mem. Op. (Nov. 6, 2009) at 2-5; Mem. Op. (Jan. 24, 2008) at 2-4, and will not endeavor to do so again here. Suffice it to say, the plaintiff contends that the defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her gender when it declined to select her for the position of Permanent Electrical Supervisor within the DCRA, a vacancy that it advertised on five separate occasions. See generally Am. Compl. On each occasion, the DCRA would issue a vacancy announcement for the position and the plaintiff would submit her application along with several other applicants. Id. ¶¶ 10-21. The DCRA would then cancel the vacancy announcement without selecting anyone for the position. Id. Ultimately, after issuing its fifth vacancy announcement for the position, the DCRA hired an African-American male to fill the vacancy. Id. ¶ 22.

The plaintiff commenced this action in March 2007, asserting claims of gender-based disparate treatment premised on her non-selection, as well as claims of retaliation, hostile work environment, constructive discharge and violations of District of Columbia law. See generally Compl.; Am. Compl. On January 24, 2008, the court issued a memorandum opinion granting in part and denying in part the defendant's motion to dismiss the amended complaint. See generally Mem. Op. (Jan. 24, 2008). The court dismissed the plaintiff's disparate treatment claims premised on her non-selection following the fourth and fifth vacancy announcements because she had not exhausted her administrative remedies before commencing this action. Id. at 8-11. In addition, the court dismissed the plaintiff's claims based on D.C. law. Id. at 16. The court, however, declined to dismiss the remainder of the plaintiff's claims. Id. at 13-19.

On February 17, 2009, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff's remaining claims. See generally Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. The defendant argued that the plaintiff had failed to make out a prima facie case of disparate treatment based on her non-selection, relying on the fact that the DCRA had cancelled each vacancy announcement at issue without hiring anyone, male or female, to fill the vacancy. Id. at 7-8. In addition, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff had offered no evidence suggesting that the vacancy announcements were cancelled for discriminatory reasons. Id. at 9. The plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that she had established a prima facie case of disparate treatment based on her non-selection and that because the DCRA had offered no legitimate, non-discriminatory explanation for her non-selection, she was entitled to summary judgment on her non-selection claims. Pl.'s Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. at 10-15.

In a memorandum opinion issued on September 14, 2009, the court concluded that the plaintiff had stated a prima facie case of disparate treatment based on her non-selection. Mem. Op. (Sept. 14, 2009) at 9-13. The court held that the plaintiff's prima facie case gave rise to a rebuttable presumption of discrimination, which required the defendant to offer a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for its actions. Id. at 13-14. Because the defendant declined to offer such a justification to rebut the presumption of discrimination created by the prima facie case, the court granted the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment on her non-selection claim. Id. at 14-15. The court noted, however, that it would consider a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification offered by the defendant in a subsequent motion for relief upon reconsideration.*fn2 Id. at 15 n.7.

In November 2009, the defendant filed the motion for relief upon reconsideration now before the court.*fn3 See generally Def.'s Mot. for Relief Upon Recons. ("Def.'s Mot."). The defendant contends that the court erred in granting summary judgment to the plaintiff on her non-selection claims. See generally id. With the defendant's motion now ripe for adjudication, the court turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Denies the Defendant's Motion for Relief Upon ...


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