*fn1,The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge,CHRISTOPHER B. WADE, PLAINTIFF, v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT." />

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Christopher B. Wade v. District of Columbia

April 20, 2011 *fn1

CHRISTOPHER B. WADE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Christopher B. Wade, an officer in the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, brings this action alleging a hostile work environment based on sex and retaliation by his employer in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's [31] Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff has filed an opposition brief, and Defendant has filed a reply, and the motion is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons explained below, the Court shall grant Defendant's motion with respect to Wade's hostile work environment claim and most of his retaliation claims and deny the motion with respect to one of Wade's retaliation claims.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Christopher B. Wade ("Wade") has been employed as a patrol officer with the Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") since 2002. Def.'s Stmt.*fn2 ¶ 1. In May 2004, Wade applied for and was assigned to the Office of Organizational Development ("OOD") as a technical writer in the Directive Development Unit ("DDU") of the Policy and Program Development Division ("PPDD"). Id. ¶ 2. During the period between October 2005 and October 2006, Wade worked under the direct supervision of Jo Hoots ("Hoots"), a civilian employee. Id.

¶ 3. From October 2005 until December 2006, Wade's second-line supervisor in that office was Debra Hoffmaster ("Hoffmaster"), also a civilian employee.

According to Wade, things changed dramatically when Hoots and Hoffmaster came to PPDD. See Decl. of Christopher Wade ("Wade Decl.") ¶ 6. At that time, Wade was one of four men working in the PPDD. See id. The other three men were [REDACTED #1], [REDACTED #2], and [REDACTED #3]. Id. ¶¶ 6-8. [REDACTED #1]'s working hours in the unit were from 5:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Dep. of Christopher Wade ("Wade Dep.") at 24. Hoffmaster told everyone in the unit that they would have to work from 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M., and [REDACTED #1] asked to leave the unit. Id. Then, [REDACTED #1] was replaced with a woman who was allowed to work the same hours that [REDACTED #1] had worked. Id. at 25. Wade claims that after [REDACTED #1] left, Hoots and Hoffmaster began to pick on [REDACTED #2]. Wade Decl. ¶ 7. Hoots submitted a memorandum up the chain of command asking for [REDACTED #2] to be transferred, but her request was denied because she could not demonstrate any problems with his performance. Id. Wade claims that Hoots then began writing [REDACTED #2] up for minor and non-existent infractions. Id. Around that time, [REDACTED #2] received notice that he had made the list for promotion and requested a transfer until he received his promotion. Id. [REDACTED #2] was replaced with a woman. Id. ¶ 9.

With [REDACTED #1] and [REDACTED #2] gone, the only men left in the unit were Wade and [REDACTED #3]. According to [REDACTED #3], Hoffmaster subjected him to supervision that was "very arbitrary, unprofessional, dictatorial and unnecessarily micromanag[ing]." See Pl.'s Ex. 4 (MPD Office of Professional Responsibility Diversity and EEO Compliance Unit Memorandum (Dec. 22, 2006)) (hereinafter, "MPD Investigation Report") at 13.*fn3 [REDACTED #3]'s interactions with Hoffmaster caused him a lot of stress, and he was eventually hospitalized because of a heart condition aggravated by job-related stress. See id. On one occasion, [REDACTED #3] was told to write a report because he was late with a deadline. Id. [REDACTED #3] also complained that Hoffmaster barraged him with demeaning emails inquiring about his work. Id. at 13-14. [REDACTED #3] stated that he did not believe that the females in the unit were subject to the same email traffic and monitoring as male members. Id. at 14. [REDACTED #3] also stated that he believed that [REDACTED #2] and [REDACTED #1] were "pretty much forced out." Id. [REDACTED #3] stated that he also had confrontations with Hoots, whom he believed acted at Hoffmaster's direction. Id. After [REDACTED #3] filed a hostile work environment complaint, [REDACTED #3] was transferred out from under Hoffmaster's supervision in March 2006. Id. at 13-14.

Wade claims that after [REDACTED #3] was transferred, Hoots and Hoffmaster began trying to force him out of the unit. In mid-May 2006, Wade requested leave to attend a training seminar on writing skills. See Pl.'s Ex. 5, Att. 4. Hoots denied his request on the grounds that Wade had already attended a writing course and that she wanted another employee to attend instead. See Wade Decl. ¶ 10. According to Wade, however, he was the only one who had requested to attend the course, and the other employee sent by Hoots was an editor who should not have needed the training in question and had not requested to attend the course. Id. After Hoots denied his training request, Hoots met with Wade and told him that he was "living on the edge" because he handed in assignments on the day they were due. Id. ¶ 11. Hoots told Wade that if he did not feel comfortable in the unit that he could always request a transfer. Id. Wade felt that this meeting came from out of the blue and that he had not missed any deadlines. Id. Wade felt like Hoots was trying to attack his performance so that he could be transferred out of the unit. Id. ¶ 12.

In June 2006, Wade volunteered to assist with a youth initiative involving McGruff, the crime-fighting mascot. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 5. However, Wade later learned that the volunteering would require far more work than he had anticipated, and on July 12, 2006, he sent around an email saying he no longer wished to be involved. Wade Decl. ¶ 13. The following week, Hoffmaster told him that the assignment was mandatory. Id. Wade needed several days to put the presentation together, leaving him unable to complete his other work for several days. Id. ¶ 14.

In addition, Wade was scheduled to be out of the office for various reasons, including jury duty and testimony at a murder trial. See Pl.'s Ex. 5, Att. 7 at 1 (Emails between Wade and Hoots). When Wade was unable to complete two assignments by July 27, 2006, Hoots asked Wade to provide a written statement on a P.D. 119 form-which is typically used for taking statements from suspects-explaining why he was unable to meet the deadline. Id. at 2 (7/27/2006 Email from Hoots to Wade); MPD Investigation Report at 8. On August 14, 2006, Wade filled out a P.D. 119 form explaining that he had missed the deadline because: (1) Hoots told him to focus on the McGruff presentation and (2) he had been assaulted while working mandatory overtime on the weekend and was placed on sick leave up until the deadline. See Pl.'s Ex. 7 at 1. Wade submitted two additional statements on P.D. 119 forms on August 15, 2006. See id. at 2-3. Wade's co-workers reported that they did not know of any other employees in the unit who were required to submit explanations for missed deadlines on P.D. 119 forms. See MPD Investigation Report at 12-14, 22.

On August 1, 2006, Wade complained to the head of OOD, Senior Executive Director Sampson Annan, about the harassment he had been receiving from Hoots and Hoffmaster. Wade Dep. Tr. at 74-75. Annan told Wade there was nothing he could do about it but that Wade was free to file an equal employment opportunity ("EEO") complaint. Id. On August 15, 2006, Wade met with the director of MPD's EEO office to complain about what he perceived as discriminatory treatment from Hoots and Hoffmaster. Id. at 76-77. Wade brought more information about his treatment to the EEO office over time, and a formal complaint was filed on October 20, 2006. Id. at 78; MPD Investigation Report at 1. Wade argues that Hoots and Hoffmaster became aware of Wade's EEO activity by around October 5, 2006. See MPD Investigation Report at 19; Pl.'s Opp'n at 12; Pl.'s Ex. 17 (Emails between Hoffmaster and Jacqueline Soares).

During August and September 2006, Wade was working on murder trials in court and was out of the office for an extended period, and the record reflects that Hoots and Hoffmaster were displeased with Wade's absence. One of Wade's co-workers overheard Hoots on the phone trying to find out "if it was OK for Wade to be gone" for such long periods and whether she could write him up for missing deadlines due to his duties in court. See MPD Investigation Report at 12. Several other co-workers reported that Hoots was trying to find a way to stop Wade from attending court. Id. at 13-14. One co-worker opined that Hoots made unreasonable demands on Wade in light of his court duties, saying it was "almost like they wanted miracles." Id. at 14. The OOD Chief of Staff met with Hoots and told her that she could not punish Wade for performing his duties in court. See id. at 10-11. On September 6, 2006, Hoots sent Wade an email complaining about his absence from the office and his missed deadlines. See Pl.'s Ex. 5, Att. 5 (9/6/2006 Email from Hoots to Wade). In her email, Hoots stated that she thought Wade must be "exceedingly unhappy" in the unit and asked if he wanted her to request a transfer for him. See id. At some point during the murder trials, Wade asked Hoots for permission to reschedule a week of redeployment that would have allowed Wade to earn overtime compensation, but Hoots denied Wade's request. See Wade Dep. at 90-91.

On October 5, 2006, Hoots requested that Wade be transferred out of her unit due to missed deadlines associated with Wade's court duties. See Pl.'s Ex. 6 (Memorandum from Hoots to Michael J. Fitzgerald). Hoots requested that Wade be replaced with a female officer who had previously applied for a position in the unit. Id. The record shows that Wade had asked several times between August and October 2006 to be transferred to another unit within OOD where he would not be under the supervision of Hoots and Hoffmaster. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 10; Wade Dep. at 105.

In early October 2006, Hoots altered two of Wade's weekly activity reports, which record the number of hours worked, after Wade had signed them. See MPD Investigation Report at 6; Pl.'s Ex. 5, Att. 9 (Activity Reports). Hoots and Wade had a dispute about whether Wade had properly filled out the reports, and Wade was concerned about Hoots's corrections because Wade would be liable for any errors. See Pl.'s Ex. 8 (Emails between Wade and Hoots) at 1-5.

In late October 2006, Hoots and Hoffmaster approved Wade's fiscal year 2006 performance evaluation, giving Wade an overall rating of "Meets Expectations." See Pl.'s Ex. 9 (Officer Performance Rating Form) at 3-4. Wade appealed this ruling, and on March 25, 2007, an appeal panel granted Wade an increase to a rating of "Exceeds Expectations." Id. at 1-2. Wade contends that the rating assessed by Hoots was retaliatory. Hoots left the unit sometime in late October.

On November 9, 2006, Wade filed a formal charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming sex discrimination and retaliation. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 11; Def.'s Ex. 3 (11/9/2006 Charge of Discrimination). In that charge, Wade complained that Hoots and Hoffmaster had treated him differently than female technical writers. See Def.'s Ex. 3. Wade complained that in July 2006, Hoots had required him to perform duties outside his job description and given him unreasonable amounts of time to complete his duties. See id. Wade further stated that on August 1, 2006, he had complained about this discriminatory treatment to Senior Executive Director Sampson Annan and told him that he would be filing an equal employment opportunity ("EEO") complaint. Id. Wade stated that Annan told Hoots about Wade's complaint and that Hoots then began to require him to provide written statements that female technical writers were not required to provide. Id. Wade further complained that on October 16, 2006, Hoots and Hoffmaster required that Wade report to them when he arrived at work and when he left each day and what he was doing throughout the day, and that female technical writers were not required to report in this manner. Id. Wade stated that he believed he had been discriminated against because of his sex and in retaliation for filing an internal EEO complaint. Id. Wade's charge indicated that the discrimination began on July 1, 2006 at the earliest, and he checked a box on the charge form indicating that the discrimination was a "continuing action." See id.

During the course of MPD's investigation into Wade's complaints of discrimination and retaliation, Hoffmaster made inquiries regarding Wade's use of time in the unit. See Pl.'s Ex. 17 (11/13/2006 File Memorandum). On November 30, 2006, Hoffmaster requested that Wade provide her with a "plan of action aka timeline/taskplan" for getting orders completed by an upcoming deadline. See Pl.'s Ex. 11 (11/30/2006 Email from Hoffmaster to Wade). Wade's co-workers told Wade they had not received a similar request. See Pl.'s Ex. 11 at 1-4.

On December 1, 2006, Hoffmaster told Wade that she wanted to meet with him and Denise Pearson, who had replaced Jo Hoots as Wade's direct supervisor, in her office later that afternoon. Wade Dep. at 109. The request came shortly after Hoots had come back to the unit to have a meeting with Hoffmaster. Id. Wade was unsure of whether to bring along a union representative to the meeting because, according to Wade, the presence of a union representative had upset Hoffmaster during a prior meeting. Id. at 110-11. Wade ultimately decided not to bring a union representative because Pearson would be there as a witness. Id. at 111-12. According to Wade, when he came to her office for the meeting, Hoffmaster remained standing and commanded him to sit in a chair facing her desk instead of at the table where he would usually sit during meetings in Hoffmaster's office. Id. Hoffmaster purportedly told Wade that the meeting was set up for Wade to deliver his task/timeline plan. Id. at 112. Wade told Hoffmaster that he had already given her one, but she said it was not sufficient and started yelling and pointing at him. Id. When he looked to Pearson to see if she was observing Hoffmaster's behavior, Hoffmaster pointed at him and told him to look at her when was speaking to him. Id. Wade says that he told her he needed to get a union representative and started to leave, but Hoffmaster told him to sit down and not to leave her office. Id. at 112-13. Hoffmaster claims that Wade left her office without asking for permission or explaining that he wanted his union representative, although Pearson claims that Wade did say he was going to get a union representative. See MPD Investigation Report at 9, 16. Pearson reported that Hoffmaster "screamed" at Wade three times as he was leaving her office. Id. at 16. Hoffmaster admits that she raised her voice against Wade loud enough for someone outside her office to hear it. Id. at 9.

Wade returned to Hoffmaster's office with a union representative as well as another officer who worked in the OOD, Captain Ricky Mitchell. Wade Dep. at 114-15. According to Wade, Hoffmaster acted civilly when he returned to the meeting. Id. at 114. Hoffmaster asked Wade to confirm that he had left the meeting after she instructed him not to do so, which he did, and then the meeting ended. Id. at 114, 117. Wade was so humiliated by the meeting that he cried when he got back to his cubicle. Id. at 117. Wade testified that he felt intimidated by Hoffmaster because she held a position of authority over him. Id. at 117-18.

Following the meeting on December 1, 2006, Hoffmaster initiated a procedure to investigate and discipline Wade for failing to obey her order. See Pl.'s Ex. 12 (5/8/2007 Memorandum). Wade received an official reprimand on January 9, 2007, but this was later rescinded on appeal. See id. The official reprimand stated that a copy of the reprimand would be placed in Wade's personnel folder and would be considered in performance evaluations and used in deciding greater degrees of disciplinary action within a three-year period. Id. (1/9/2007 Official Reprimand). At some point after the meeting, Hoffmaster submitted a written request to have Wade transferred out of the DDU, citing Wade's failure to meet deadlines and his failure to obey her order. See Pl.'s Ex. 13. On December 4, 2006, the MPD EEO office recommended that Wade be detailed out of his position in the PPDD pending the outcome of the investigation relating to disobeying Hoffmaster's order. See Pl.'s Ex. 14 (12/4/2006 Memorandum to Executive Asst. to Chief of Police from Jacqueline Johnson). On December 12, 2006, Wade was ...


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