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Patel v. Shinseki

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 18, 2013

RAJNIKANT PATEL, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC K. SHINSEKI, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, [1] Defendant

For RAJNIKANT PATEL, Plaintiff: Aroon Roy Padharia, LEAD ATTORNEY, AROON ROY PADHARIA, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Washington, DC.

For R. JAMES NICHOLSON, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Defendant: Wyneva Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR D.C., Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 117

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Rajnikant Patel has been a Medical Technologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs [2] since 1982. Mr. Patel claims that VA intentionally discriminated against him because of his race, age, religion, gender, and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., when he was not selected for promotions in 2004. Eric Shinseki, VA Secretary, responds that the appropriate agency officials selected the most qualified candidates for each of these positions, and Mr. Patel was not the most qualified. The Court will grant summary judgment in favor of the Secretary because the Court finds no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the Secretary is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

I. FACTS

Mr. Patel was born in 1941 and is a male, Indian-Asian, of Indian origin, and Hindu. Def. Statement of Undisputed Facts [Dkt. 28] ¶ 1 (" Def. SUF" ). He began work at VA in July 1982 as a Medical Technologist. Id. On October 20, 2004, VA posted a vacancy announcement for one Supervisory Medical Technologist position. See Def. Mot., Ex. 4 [Dkt. 28-4] (Lead Medical Technologist and Supervisory Medical Technologist Job Announcements (" Job Announcements" )) at 20-21. On October 27, 2004, VA posted a vacancy announcement for two Lead Medical Technologist positions. Id. at 2-3. Both the Supervisory Medical Technologist position and the Lead Medical Technologist positions required a degree in Medical Technology, Chemistry, or Biology and one year of specialized experience as a Medical Technologist. Id. at 2-3, 20-21. Mr. Patel applied for all three positions. Def. SUF ¶ ¶ 3, 16.

The VA Office of Human Resources (" HR" ) determined that Mr. Patel and

Page 118

nine other applicants met the minimum qualifications for the Lead Medical Technologist positions and referred these applicants to a three-member interview panel. Id. ¶ 8. The panel interviewed Mr. Patel in October or November of 2004. Id. ¶ 9. The panel asked all applicants 12 standardized performance-based questions. The panel rated the applicants on a scale of 1-5 for each question. The total score per panelist for an applicant (a sum of each panelist's scores on the 12 questions) was averaged to arrive at the interview score for that applicant. See Def. Mot., Ex. 8 [Dkt. 28-8] (Interview Questions and Ranking for Lead Medical Technologist). Mr. Patel scored 27.33 in the interview out of a possible score of 60. Def. SUF ¶ 12; see also Interview Questions and Ranking for Lead Medical Technologist at 7. Dr. Robert Dufour, the Chief for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Service at the time, served as the selecting official for the positions. Def. SUF ¶ 14. On December 12, 2004, Dr. Dufour selected applicant Christina Santos, who had an interview score of 50, and applicant Maripe Floriza, who had an interview score of 49, to fill the Lead Medical Technologist positions. Ms. Santos and Ms. Floriza were the highest scoring interviewees. Def. SUF ¶ ¶ 13, 15; Def. Mot., Ex. 5 [Dkt. 28-6] (Merit Promotion File for Lead Medical Technologist). Each successful applicant is an Asian female of Filipino descent. Def. SUF ¶ ¶ 5, 6.

HR also referred Mr. Patel and several other applicants to another three-member interview panel because they met the minimum qualifications for the Supervisory Medical Technologist position. Id. ¶ 19. Again, the interview panel asked all applicants a set of standardized questions. Mr. Patel scored 33.3 in the interview. Id. ¶ ¶ 21, 23. Dr. Dufour again served as the selecting official. Id. ¶ 24. On November 28, 2004, he selected applicant Peregrina Lee, who scored 52.7 in her interview. Ms. Peregrina was the highest scoring interviewee. Id. ¶ 26; Def. Resp. [Dkt. 36] at 3. Ms. Lee is an Asian female of Filipino descent. Def. SUF ¶ 18.

Mr. Patel filed an administrative charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) in 2004. [3] Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 4; Pl. Opp. at 2. The EEOC issued Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter on October 27, 2006. Compl., Att. 1 [Dkt. 1-1] (EEOC Final Order). Within ninety days of receipt of this letter, on January 27, 2007, Mr. Patel filed his Complaint in this Court.

At the end of discovery, the Secretary filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. He argued that Mr. Patel failed to establish that his legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for his non-selection--that he was not as qualified as the selected applicants for the positions in question--was mere pretext. Mr. Patel responded that the selected applicants were not as qualified as he because he had an American Society of Clinical Pathologists (" ASCP" ) certification, which the selectees lacked and which was ...


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