United States District Court, District of Columbia
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Jeffrey Howard Leib, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.
Wyneva Johnson, Darrell C. Valdez, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendant.
REGGIE B. WALTON, District Judge.
The plaintiff, Debra Clark Gordon, brings this action against her employer, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. § 1404 (2006) of the Congressional Accountability Act (" Accountability Act" ), alleging discrimination based on her race and color in violation of 2 U.S.C. § 1311(a)(1), and retaliation for participation in protected activities in violation
of 2 U.S.C. § 1317(a). Complaint (" Compl." ) ¶¶ 1, 5. The Court previously granted the defendant's motion to dismiss Count II of the plaintiff's complaint in part and Count III in its entirety. Gordon v. Office of the Architect of the Capitol, 750 F.Supp.2d 82, 94 (D.D.C.2010). Currently before this Court is the Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (" Def.'s Mot." ). After carefully considering the parties' submissions, the Court concludes, for the following reasons, that it must deny the defendant's motion to dismiss but grant the defendant's motion for summary judgment.
The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. The plaintiff, an African American female, applied for the position of Supervisory Secretary with the defendant, her employer. Def.'s Facts ¶ 1; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 1. One of the plaintiff's superiors, Robin Morey, was the selecting official for the position. Def.'s Facts ¶ 20; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 20. Another superior, Taxiarxis Tzamaras, participated in the interview process with Morey, and an independent observer was also present. Def.'s Facts ¶ 20; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 20. Morey created the interview questions for the position and asked the same questions of the plaintiff and five other applicants. Def.'s Facts ¶ 21; (citing Def.'s Mem. Exhibit 7 (" Morey Dep." ) at 32-33); see Pl.'s Facts ¶ 21 (stating that the plaintiff neither agrees with nor disputes this fact). During the job selection process, the plaintiff did not hear anyone make any racially derogatory comments, and concedes that she " could not answer whether [Morey], the selecting official, discriminated against her." Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 5-7; Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 5-7. Morey eventually chose Christine Camera, a Caucasian female, rather than the plaintiff, for the Supervisory Secretary position. Def.'s Facts ¶ 1; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 1.
Regarding his decision, Morey explained that after reviewing the applications and interviewing the candidates, he chose Camera because of her " management experience ... on the private industry side," Morey Dep. at 36, her " very strong sense of ... security," id. at 36-37, and the fact that her interview responses " went into detail" using " specific examples, experiences that she had at her other employment on how to deal with [client service] matters, [and] how to ensure confidentiality," id. at 61-62. He stated that the plaintiff, on the other hand, lacked " [a]ny ability to communicate her experience" in her interview and gave only " very short answers" without " any elaboration." Id. at 40-41. Morey perceived the plaintiff's responses to the interview questions as " really inadequate and not responsive to the question." Id. at 51-52. Furthermore, Morey said that the plaintiff exaggerated
her past work experiences on her application. Id. at 24-25; see, e.g., id. at 55-56 (commenting as he read from the plaintiff's application: " She does not do that. Did not lead groups of people in accomplishing week-to-week or month-to-month on a regular basis. She did not address work performance. She did not make higher level recommendations to supervisors." ).
The plaintiff agrees that her answers to the interview questions " didn't come out right." Def.'s Facts ¶ 22; see Pl.'s Facts ¶ 22. However, she contends that her interview responses were not indicative of her abilities, Pl.'s Facts ¶ 22, and that she was generally very well-qualified for the position, id. ¶¶ 22, 24-26. She points out that at the time of her application, she had been employed by the defendant for twelve years and held a position one grade below the Supervisory Secretary position, see Pl.'s Mem. at 2, whereas Camera had only held a position with the defendant for five months, and Camera's selection represented " a promotion of four grades," Pl.'s Facts ¶ 26. She vigorously contests Morey's assertion that her application contained inaccuracies. Id. ¶¶ 29-31. Moreover, she states that Morey took none of the same pains to verify the claims in Camera's application. Id. ¶¶ 23, 25, 27, 29-33.
The plaintiff testified during her deposition that on January 28, 2008, she overheard Taxiarxis Tzamaras instructing someone else to send an email to several other individuals to tell them that Camera had been selected for the position. Pl.'s Mem. at 7; see also Def.'s Facts ¶ 2 (citing the plaintiff's deposition ). Two days later, on January 30, 2008, Morey met with the plaintiff and notified her of her non-selection. Def.'s Facts ¶ 2; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 2.
The plaintiff made a request for counseling with the Office of Compliance on July 28, 2008. Def.'s Facts ¶ 3; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 3. The plaintiff brought this action after the conclusion of the administrative process, alleging that her non-selection was due to her race and that she was subsequently the target of retaliation for her complaint of discrimination. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 24-42.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction because the plaintiff had not exhausted her administrative remedies, or in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment in its favor. Gordon, 750 F.Supp.2d at 84-85. This Court granted in part and denied in part the motion. Id. at 85. The Court dismissed the retaliation claim " to the extent that the claim is based on alleged retaliation resulting from the plaintiff's participation in counseling and mediation" because she had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as to that aspect of her retaliation claim, and the claim for hostile work environment in its entirety for the same reason. Id. at 93. Regarding the discrimination count, however, the Court held that jurisdiction in this Court was proper because the plaintiff had exhausted ...