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Blyden A. Davis v. Joseph J. Magnolia

September 28, 2012

BLYDEN A. DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH J. MAGNOLIA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Blyden A. Davis filed discrimination and retaliation claims against defendant Joseph J. Magnolia, Inc., his former employer, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. Code § 2-1401.01 et seq. On September 30, 2011, the Court granted in part and denied in part defendant's motion for summary judgment, dismissing all of plaintiff's claims except for one claim of Title VII discrimination. Plaintiff and defendant have each moved for reconsideration of Court's ruling. Defendant challenges the Court's denial of summary judgment on the remaining claim in this case for discrimination in violation of Title VII. Plaintiff challenges the Court's grant of summary judgment dismissing his retaliation claim. Upon consideration of the motions, the responses and replies thereto, the applicable law, the entire record, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court hereby DENIES defendant's motion for reconsideration and DENIES plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

I.BACKGROUND

The factual background of this case has been set forth in the Court's prior opinions and will not be repeated here unless relevant to the pending motions.

Plaintiff, who is African-American, was hired by defendant in April 2005 as a heavy equipment operator working at construction job sites. Soon after being hired, plaintiff received two or three oral warnings in May 2005 concerning his inability to operate heavy equipment, followed by a written warning issued on June 2, 2005. The warning stated that plaintiff was unable to operate heavy equipment as required by the job, and plaintiff was transferred to a new crew, supervised by Foreman Jeff Forsythe.

Plaintiff alleges that while working with the new crew, in July 2005, a fellow employee informed him that Forsythe had referred to plaintiff as a "nigger." Plaintiff made an internal complaint regarding Forsythe's allegedly discriminatory conduct on October 17, 2005. Following an investigation, Forsythe received a written warning for violation of company procedures and unsatisfactory behavior towards employees or customers.

On November 2, 2005, while still working on Forsythe's crew, plaintiff received another written warning. This warning stated that plaintiff had been insubordinate and violated company policies by failing to take a required training class. The warning specified that it was the "final warning before discharge."

In its September 30, 2011 Opinion, the Court found that with respect to all but one of the allegedly discriminatory actions, defendant had produced legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the action, and summary judgment was appropriate for defendant. With respect to one of the allegedly discriminatory actions, however, the Court found that plaintiff had produced "sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer intentional discrimination." Sept. 30, 2011 Op. at 13. Specifically, the Court found that with respect to the November 2005 written warning, plaintiff had identified "sufficient, albeit circumstantial, evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that Forsythe's decision to issue plaintiff a written reprimand was the result of intentional discrimination." Id. at 15.

The Court also granted defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claim of retaliation. Although the Court found that plaintiff had established a prima facie case of retaliation, the Court found that defendant had produced legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the November 2005 and January 2006 written warnings and plaintiff's termination in May 2006. Sept. 30, 2011 Op. at 30. The Court rejected plaintiff's arguments regarding the temporal proximity of plaintiff's complaints in October 2005 and January 2006 and the written warnings. Sept. 30, 2011 Op. at 31 (citing Talavera v. Shah, 638 F.3d 303, 313 (D.C. Cir. 2011) ("[P]ositive evidence beyond mere proximity is required to defeat the presumption that the proffered explanations are genuine.")).

Defendant, in its motion for reconsideration, asks the Court to grant summary judgment in favor of defendant on plaintiff's sole remaining claim in the case: that plaintiff's supervisor discriminated against him by issuing a written warning allegedly as a result of plaintiff's failure to re-take a training course. In support of its motion, defendant asks the Court to consider "supplemental" facts that it did not submit in support of its initial motion. Defendant also argues that a single, written warning cannot, as a matter of law, qualify as an "adverse employment action" under Title VII.

Plaintiff, in his motion for reconsideration, argues that the Court should reverse its grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant on plaintiff's claims of retaliation under Title

VII. Specifically, plaintiff argues that the Court overlooked evidence in the record that defendant's reasons for disciplining plaintiff were without basis, pretextual, or involve disputed material facts.

II.STANDARD OF ...


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