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Harris v. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 13, 2013

Anthony HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY, Defendant.

Page 31

John W. Davis, John W. Davis & Associates, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Grace E. Speights, Jocelyn R. Cuttino, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony Harris was employed as a Systems Operations Manager by Defendant District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority. His lawsuit alleges that WASA unlawfully terminated him in violation of the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act, federal Civil Rights Acts, and the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act. The sole federal count is based on WASA's alleged retaliation against him for complaining to the Mayor about its purported racially discriminatory employment practices. In now moving to dismiss, Defendant correctly argues that Plaintiff has not sufficiently pled causation under Title VII or Section 1981. The Court will thus

Page 32

grant Defendant's Motion as to this claim and permit Plaintiff to pursue his state claims in the appropriate local court.

I. Background

According to Plaintiff's Complaint, which the Court must presume true for purposes of the Motion, Harris worked as a Systems Operations Manager in the Department of Maintenance Services at WASA from September 1995 until his termination on October 13, 2011. See Compl., ¶¶ 6, 26. While employed at WASA, Plaintiff, who is black, believed that Defendant had terminated a significant number of black employees and hired white employees to replace them. Id., ¶¶ 3, 11. Plaintiff says several WASA managers also expressed concerns to him about questionable employment practices by the company. Id., ¶ 16. In January 2011, Plaintiff wrote a letter to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray complaining about fraud, waste, abuse, and racial discrimination at WASA. Id., ¶ 17. In February 2011, Plaintiff sent a similar letter to the D.C. City Council committee with oversight of WASA. Id., ¶ 18. Although in May 2011 WASA officials told Plaintiff they wanted to meet with him regarding the letter he had sent to Mayor Gray, they subsequently canceled the meeting. Id., ¶ 19.

Additionally, in 2010, Plaintiff was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure and had to go on dialysis. Id., ¶ 20. On or about October 6, 2011, Plaintiff took leave from WASA to have surgery. Id., ¶ 23. On October 11, Plaintiff called WASA management to inform them that his physician had told him he could not return to work until at least October 26. Id., ¶¶ 24-25. Two days later, on October 13, WASA notified him that his position had been abolished. Id., ¶ 26. Plaintiff alleges that the functions of his position are still being performed, even though WASA indicated that it no longer exists. Id., ¶ 28.

In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts three counts. First, he alleges that WASA unlawfully terminated his employment in retaliation for his letters, in violation of the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act, D.C.Code § 1-615.51 et seq. , and the common law of wrongful discharge. Id., ¶¶ 33-35. Second, Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated in retaliation for his statements that WASA had engaged in racial discrimination in its employment practices, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Id., ¶¶ 37-38. Finally, Plaintiff claims that WASA violated the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act, D.C.Code § 32-501, et seq. , by firing him when he had to be out of work for a medical procedure. Id., ¶¶ 40-41.

Plaintiff also alleges that he received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC and satisfied all administrative prerequisites to filing his suit. Id., ¶ 29. He brought this action against WASA on September 3, 2012, ...


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