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Ronesha Butler v. Mary Schapiro

March 20, 2012

RONESHA BUTLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARY SCHAPIRO,*FN1 CHAIRMAN, SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Signed by Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge, on March 20, 2012.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Ronesha Butler ("Butler") brings this action against Mary Schapiro, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC" or "the defendant"), pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"). Butler alleges discrimination and a hostile work environment based on race, and she further alleges retaliation for engaging in protected EEO activity. Presently before the Court is the defendant's motion [5] to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, the Court will DENY the defendant's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

Butler, an African-American female, was hired by the SEC in 2003 as an attorney advisor. Compl. ¶¶ 9-10. In 2004, Butler received a promotion to the position of Senior Counsel in the SEC's Office of Market Supervision ("OMS"), within the Division Trading and Markets.

Id. From her initial hiring in 2003 until 2008, OMS Assistant Director Nancy Burke-Sanow ("Burke-Sanow"), a Caucasian female, supervised Butler. Id. ¶ 12.

In March 2005, Butler took four months of maternity leave. Id. ¶ 15. Prior to taking this leave, Burke-Sanow required Butler to fill out four months of daily leave requests. Id. ¶ 16. Burke-Sanow failed, however, to have Butler submit the required extended leave form. Id. ¶ 18. As a result, Butler received more compensation than she was entitled to during this time, and the SEC required her to repay the unearned portion. Id. ¶ 19.

In May 2006, Butler's mother suffered cardiac arrest, and Burke-Sanow "reluctantly" granted Butler's leave request to attend to her mother. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. While on leave to care for her mother, plaintiff alleges that Burke-Sanow informed other employees that Butler was on an extended last-minute vacation. Id. ¶ 24.

From 2005 to 2006, Butler assisted on a delisting project with fellow employee Susie Cho. Id. ¶ 28. On April 20, 2006, Burke-Sanow approached Cho and made disparaging comments about Butler. Id. ¶ 29. Burke-Sanow also questioned Cho about whether Butler actually performed the tasks under the delisting projects that were reported. Id. ¶

During her time at the SEC, Butler teleworked two days each month. Id. ¶ 33. On six occasions between August 2005 and October 2006, Burke-Sanow questioned Butler about whether Butler was actually working from home, or instead, caring for her daughter. Id. ¶ 35. On August 14, 2006, Butler sent a work report to Burke-Sanow of the tasks she would complete while teleworking from home that day. Id. ¶ 37. Burke-Sanow followed up with two employees on the list to verify that Butler performed the tasks on her work report. Id. ¶ 38. Butler eventually stopped teleworking. Id. ¶ 41.

On May 30, 2006, Associate Directors Elizabeth King and David Shillman met with the Assistant Directors, including Burke-Sanow, to discuss employee performance for the May 2005 to April 2006 time period. Def.'s Mot. at 5. During this meeting, the Assistant Directors gave recommendations to King and Shillman regarding merit pay raises. Compl. ¶ 50. Butler received an overall acceptable rating for the period at issue, but she did not receive a merit pay increase in 2006. Id. ¶ 51.

In August 2006, Burke-Sanow called Deborah Balducchi, the SEC's then Director of Equal Employment Opportunity, to inquire into Butler's current time commitment to the SEC's African-American Council. Id. ¶ 42.

On October 10, 2006, Butler contacted an EEO Counselor to initiate the formal complaint process for race discrimination and harassment based on race. Id. ¶ 63. During the discovery period of Butler's EEOC claims, Butler's work assignments and feedback from Burke-Sanow decreased. Id. ¶ 68. Butler was additionally removed from working on the OTCBB and Pink Sheets Over-the-Counter Derivatives projects. Id. ¶ 71.

Butler filed the instant action on March 21, 2011 alleging harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, and retaliation. The defendant subsequently filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary ...


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