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Morrison v. Mills

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 11, 2013

Vaunia MORRISON, Plaintiff,
v.
Karen G. MILLS, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration, Defendant.

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Michael D.J. Eisenberg, Deanna S. Schabacker, Law Office of Michael D.J. Eisenberg, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Rhonda C. Fields, United States Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, District Judge.

Plaintiff Vaunia Morrison alleges that she was subjected to retaliation and discrimination based on race and sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., when her request to transfer to a different position was denied. She also contends that she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on retaliation. Defendant Karen Mills, in her capacity as Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

Vaunia Morrison, an African-American woman, is a GS-13 Program Analyst assigned to the Office of Business Development within the Small Business Administration. During all relevant times, Morrison was part of the Termination Team, which worked on termination actions for businesses participating in a particular development program. Linda Waters was Team Leader. Morrison's first-line supervisor was Mariana Pardo and then, beginning in 2008, Leo Sanchez. Leanne Delaney was the second-line supervisor, and Joseph Loddo was the third-line supervisor. See Pl.'s Statement of Disputed Material Facts [Docket Entry 23-2] ¶¶ 1-4, 7-8, 34 (July 31, 2012).

Morrison told her supervisors on multiple occasions beginning in November 2007 that she wanted to transfer to another division. Id. ¶¶ 9, 19. Loddo advised Morrison that she could apply and compete for another position via USAJobs.com or find someone to swap positions with her, and that he would ask about other available positions. See Loddo Dep. [Docket Entry 18-4] at 7:10-17 (June 21, 2012). Morrison did not apply for any Small Business Administration jobs and " [t]o her knowledge, there were no job announcements made by the [agency] relevant to her skills and experience." Pl.'s Statement of Disputed Material Facts ¶ 49. Loddo subsequently transferred two other employees, Luke Williams, an African-American male, and Bohdan Kilyk, a white male, within the Office of Business Development, directing them to report directly to him rather than to their prior first-line supervisor, Teresa Lewis. Id. ¶¶ 37, 39-40. But Morrison remained under Team Leader Waters. Morrison considers her request to transfer denied on the date she made her final request to Loddo, March 17, 2008. See id. ¶ 22; see also Pl.'s Opp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [Docket Entry 23-1] at 10 (July 31, 2012) (" Pl.'s Opp." ).

On the Termination Team, Morrison had a number of conflicts with Waters. Morrison perceived Waters as " rude" and " cold." See Morrison Dep. [Docket Entry 18-10] at 23:18-19 (June 21, 2012). Taken in the light most favorable to Morrison, the record reflects that Waters invited other team members to certain meetings Morrison ultimately attended, allowing Morrison to overhear that a meeting was to take place without inviting her directly. Id. at 24:23-26:7. She accused Morrison of misplacing

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files, see Waters 2012 Dep. [Docket Entry 23-8] at 59:4-15 (July 31, 2012). Morrison and Waters also disagreed over the appropriate level of guidance Morrison should receive. See Ex. H to Pl.'s Opp. [Docket Entry 23-11] at 8, 19 (July 31, 2012). Waters and first-line supervisor Sanchez criticized Morrison's work. See, e.g., Morrison Dep. at 45:22-46:6. They even held a meeting where they criticized Morrison without giving her prior notice that such a meeting would take place. Id. at 41:21-42:21. Finally, Waters and Sanchez assigned Kimberly Mace, another team member who was at the GS-12 pay grade, rather than Morrison, to carry out certain Team Leader tasks in Waters's absence. See Waters 2012 Dep. at 49:8-50:15.

On June 3, 2008, Morrison filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint against Waters, Pardo, and Loddo based on the non-transfer. See Pl.'s Statement of Disputed Material Facts ¶ 23; see also June 2008 EEO Complaint [Docket Entry 17-25] (June 18, 2012). On December 11, 2008, she filed an EEO complaint against Waters and Sanchez alleging a hostile work environment based on reprisal for her prior EEO activity. See Pl.'s Statement of Disputed Material Facts ¶ 35; see also Attach. to June 2008 EEO Complaint [Docket Entry 17-28] (June 18, 2012). Morrison had ...


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