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Thomas v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 6, 2012

Ernest Alphonso THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Ernest Alphonso Thomas, Silver Spring, MD, pro se.

Gerard Joseph Stief, WMATA, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL Re Document Nos.: 17, 19, 24.

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Earnest Thomas, is an employee with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (" WMATA" ) who claims that he was passed over for several promotions based on his race (black), national origin (African), age (56 at time of the

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complaint) and that he was retaliated against for complaining about his discriminatory treatment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (" Title VII" ) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (" ADEA" ). WMATA has filed a partial motion for summary judgment arguing that: one of plaintiff's Title VII claims is untimely because he failed to file a " charge" with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act; plaintiff's Title VII retaliation claim is premature because plaintiff has not yet received a right to sue letter from the EEOC; and, all of plaintiff's ADEA claims fail because WMATA is not subject to liability under the ADEA because it is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. [Docket No. 24]. For his own part, plaintiff has also filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his discrimination claims. [Docket No. 19]. Additionally, plaintiff, who appears pro se, has moved the Court to appoint him counsel. [Docket No. 17]. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED, defendant's partial motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, and plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Since June 20, 2005, plaintiff has been employed as a " D Mechanic-Electrical" in WMATA's Rail Car Maintenance Department. Complaint at ¶ 3. In 2009, plaintiff applied for two promotions: Vehicle Engineer (Job Vacancy No. 090834) and Senior Vehicle Engineer (Job Vacancy No. 090350). Complaint at ¶ 8. He was not interviewed for either position and other individuals were selected.

On March 18, 2010, plaintiff wrote a letter to the EEOC concerning his allegations of discrimination. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Docket No. 26], Exhibit 3. In that letter, plaintiff claimed that he was discriminated against when he was not selected for the two above-referenced positions. Id. He wrote that, by submitting the letter, he wanted to file a complaint based on race, national origin and age discrimination and that he was " filing th[e] complaint" at that time " in order to observe the statute of limitation[s] of 180 days and accelerate the process...." Id. Based on that letter, the EEOC prepared a charge form that plaintiff signed on April 29, 2010 and that the EEOC received on May 4, 2010 (Charge No. 570-2010-01090). Defendant WMATA's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (" WMATA Mtn./Opp." ) [Docket No. 24], Exh. 1 at 31-32; Exh. 2. After more than 180 days since the EEOC assumed jurisdiction over the charge, on August 18, 2011, the EEOC sent plaintiff a right to sue letter on that charge. Id. at Exh. 3.

Later in 2010, plaintiff applied for a Senior Electrical Engineer position and was interviewed for that position on September 22, 2010. Complaint at ¶ 27; Docket 24, Exh. 4. He was informed on December 29, 2010 that he had not received this position. Id. On March 21, 2011, the EEOC received the charge form from plaintiff concerning this non-selection. Docket 24, Exh. 4.[1]

Plaintiff filed the current action on November 14, 2011. Plaintiff alleges that he

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was passed over for a number of promotions because of his race, national origin, age, and retaliation. The non-selections at issue can be broken down into three categories: 1) a number of unspecified non-selections going back to 2005 for which plaintiff never filed an EEOC charge; 2) the two non-selections included in plaintiff's first EEOC charge; and 3) the non-selection resulting in the retaliation claim at issue in plaintiff's second EEOC charge. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's Title VII claims which were included in the two EEOC charges survive, and all others are dismissed. Additionally, all of plaintiff's ADEA claims are dismissed. Moreover, plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is granted in part and counsel shall be appointed from this Court's pro bono panel for the sole purpose of pursuing mediation.

III. ANALYSIS OF DISCRIMINATION/RETALIATION CLAIMS

The plaintiff has moved for summary judgment on all of his discrimination and retaliation claims, asserting that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. [Docket No. 19]. The defendant has moved for summary judgment on some of the plaintiff's claims, arguing that some are untimely and that WMATA is not ...


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