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Kangethe v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 15, 2013

JOHN N. KANGETHE, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

Page 195

Mr. JOHN N. KANGETHE, PHD, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT, Defendant: Martha J. Mullen, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 196

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff John Kangethe, proceeding pro se, brings this suit against his employer, the District of Columbia. He asserts violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (" ADEA" ), and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. He also alleges that he was subjected to retaliation and a hostile work environment. The District has moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and Kangethe has filed a memorandum in opposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the District's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Taking as true the allegations in Kangethe's complaint, See Oberwetter v. Hilliard, 639 F.3d 545, 549, 395 U.S.App. D.C. 52 (D.C. Cir. 2011), this case arises out of the following facts. Kangethe, a 59-year-old naturalized citizen of the United States, is a labor economist in the Office of Labor Market Research and Information (" LMI" ) at the

Page 197

District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (" DOES" ). See Am. Compl. [Docket Entry 23] ¶ ¶ 1-2, 19 (Oct. 1, 2012). He has a Ph.D. in economics and earns a GS-12 salary of $64,439. See id. ¶ ¶ 16, 27. Until the events at issue here, Kangethe alleges that he had received " uniformly favorable" job performance reviews. See id. ¶ 21.

Kangethe alleges that the position of LMI Supervisory Labor Economist--the section head--opened in April 2008. See id. ¶ 22. The position was advertised as a GS-14. See id. ¶ 25. During DOES's search for a new supervisor, Kangethe was appointed acting LMI head, taking on significant additional responsibilities. See id. ¶ ¶ 26, 30. He alleges that he performed these tasks with excellence. See id. ¶ ¶ 30-31. While serving as acting head, Kangethe applied for the permanent position and was found to be the most qualified candidate. See id. ¶ ¶ 31-32. However, Joseph Walsh, the DOES Director, declined to select Kangethe for the position, instead asking whether other candidates were available and directing DOES to relist the job opening. See id. ¶ 35. Kangethe alleges that this process repeated itself four times, with him applying for the position, being the only eligible candidate, and Walsh declining to give him the job. See id. ¶ ¶ 36-42.

During this time, Kangethe alleges that he continued to be paid at the GS-12 level despite performing GS-14 work. See id. ¶ ¶ 27, 30, 55. On August 16, 2009, he received a temporary pay raise to the GS-14 level for 90 days, while continuing to carry out the same duties. See id. ¶ 50. Kangethe alleges that he then contacted a Human Resources staff member to ask for retroactive pay for his prior work as acting LMI head. See id. ¶ ¶ 52-53. After the temporary promotion expired, he continued to perform the supervisory responsibilities for another month. See id. ¶ ¶ 55-58. On December 14, 2009, Kangethe alleges that he again requested an update from Human Resources on his compensation. See id. ¶ 56. Later that day, he was informed by Eric Scott, DOES's new Chief of Staff, that the Human Resources staff member " indicated that [Kangethe had] reached out to her concerning [his] duties." See id. ¶ 57 (internal quotation marks omitted). Scott then notified Kangethe that he was no longer the official acting supervisor and stripped him of his supervisory duties. See id. ¶ ¶ 57-58.

Kangethe filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (" EEO" ) complaint on February 2, 2010. See id. ¶ 61. On April 19, 2010, he initiated the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission administrative process. See id. ¶ 64.

In May 2010, Scott announced that a new position, Associate Director of Policy, Legislative, and Statistical Analysis, would be created to replace the still-vacant LMI supervisory position, and that a new person would be brought in to assume the Associate Director position. See id. ¶ 67. Kangethe alleges that the position was not advertised on the District's Human Resources website, in violation of its personnel rules. See id. ¶ 70. Nonetheless, an individual was invited to interview for the position. See id. ¶ 71.

DOES ultimately failed to hire anyone for this position, and Kangethe claims that the responsibilities were then shifted to a new position, Associate Director for Labor Market and Workforce Research and Analysis, which was advertised at a GS-15 level. See id. ¶ 80. Kangethe alleges that the job description for this position was altered in an attempt to " discourage or disqualify" him. See id. ¶ 81. He still applied, but DOES hired a younger white man with allegedly less relevant experience. See id. ¶ ¶ 84-85. According to the

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complaint, this hire came at the end of a four-year period where the position or its equivalent remained vacant, despite the availability of funding for it ...


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