United States District Court, District of Columbia
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Ekram Siddique, Silver Spring, MD, pro se.
Nat Peter Calamis, Carr Maloney PC, Washington, DC, Courtney M. Menges, The Law Offices of Courtney Menges, St. Louis, MO, for Defendant.
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, District Judge.
Ekram Siddique worked as a sales associate for Hecht's and its successor, Macy's, for many years. In 2009, he was working in Men's Suits at Macy's in downtown D.C. and often arrived for work 15 minutes late because he stayed with his youngest child while his wife took the other children to school. When a new director of human resources came to the store, Mr. Siddique's habitual tardiness became an issue, and Macy's warned him three times that he could no longer be late. Because he believed that he could not change his childcare obligations, Mr. Siddique asked to work a part-time shift in the evening hours. He did not accept either of the two part-time positions Macy's offered him and was separated from employment. Mr. Siddique now sues Macy's, on his own without a lawyer, claiming violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act and the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act.
Ekram Siddique is a foreign born citizen of the United States who speaks with an accent that is " noticeably Indian." Compl. [Dkt. 1-1] ¶¶ 2-4. He began working for Hecht's in August 1990 and, in 2006, worked at the Hecht's store in Friendship Heights, Maryland, just over the line from the District of Columbia. Id. ¶¶ 12-13; Resp. to Def. Statement of Undisputed Facts (Resp. to SUF) [Dkt. 28] ¶ 1. After Macy's acquired Hecht's in August 2006, the store in Friendship Heights closed, and Mr. Siddique moved to the Macy's store at Metro Center in downtown D.C. as a sales associate in the Men's Suits Department. Compl. ¶¶ 14-15; Def. Statement of Undisputed Facts (SUF) [Dkt. 23] ¶ 2. Macy's paid him on commission at a rate that averaged approximately $30/hour if paid on an hourly basis. Compl. ¶¶ 17-18; SUF ¶ 3. His performance reviews were excellent and over the course of his career he received numerous awards in recognition of his customer service. See Pl. Opp., Ex. 7 (Annual Reviews) [Dkt. 28-1].
Mr. Siddique has four children, born between 2000 and 2007. Compl. ¶ 20. In 2009, the time of the events here, his youngest son was two years old and suffered from medically-diagnosed behavioral problems. Compl. ¶ 21; Resp. to SUF ¶ 9. As a result, Mr. Siddique stayed with his youngest child while his wife took the other three children to school in the morning; this practice made him periodically arrive late for work. Resp. to SUF ¶¶ 6, 9. That is, instead of arriving at 9:30 when sales associates were due to start work, he would arrive closer to 9:45, which was still before the store actually opened at 10:00 A.M. but late to straighten the merchandise for the day. Id.
In March 2009, a new human resources (HR) manager, Laura Anninos, arrived and noticed that associates failed to meet their schedules and were not being held accountable; she met with store management to address the problem. Def. Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt. 23], Ex. 2 (Anninos Decl.) [Dkt. 23-11] ¶ 5. In April 2009, Liz Green, Mr. Siddique's sales manager, verbally warned Mr. Siddique about his tardiness. SUF ¶¶ 7-8. Shortly thereafter, in June and August 2009, Ms. Green issued Mr. Siddique two written warnings  that his habitual tardiness was unacceptable and that it put his job in jeopardy. SUF ¶¶ 9, 11. Mr. Siddique " was tardy 49 times prior to the first warning [Reminder dated June 22, 2009] and tardy an additional 21 times following the first warning." Def. Mot., Ex. 1(G) (Younger Letter) [Dkt. 23-8] ¶ 2. His tardiness continued after the issuance of the second written warning. Younger Decl. ¶ 16. Mr. Siddique insists that he told Ms. Green that he needed a 15-minute grace period because his youngest son was hyperactive, Resp. to SUF ¶ 9, 12, but Macy's disputes that it ever received any information about his son's health status.
In early September 2009, Mr. Siddique had an argument with a fellow sales associate during which Mr. Siddique said to him, " we didn't come from the jungle." Resp. to SUF ¶ 14. The other man, a native of Senegal, considered this an insult and reported it to HR. SUF ¶ 14. Mr. Siddique states that his comment has been taken out of context and his statement meant only that he hoped to resolve their dispute amicably. Resp. to SUF ¶¶ 14, 15. Macy's considered it a racially derogatory statement and, coupled with his continued tardiness, decided to issue a " Decision-Making Leave" form to Mr. Siddique on September 11, 2009. The critical third paragraph read:
Your performance/conduct is not meeting Macy's expectation(s). Specifically: On September 1st you had a conversation with Assane, where you stated " we are not from a jungle." This is an inappropriate way to speak to co-workers.
In addition, he has had 5 tardies since his Reminder 2. Ekram must show to work on time and interact with all associates and guest [sic] within the ...