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Robinson v. Red Coats, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 27, 2014

RED COATS, INC., Defendant

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For BEULAH J. ROBINSON, Plaintiff: Kenneth E. McPherson, LEAD ATTORNEY, KENNETH E. MCPHERSON, CHTD., Riverdale, MD.

For RED COATS, INC., Defendant: Nat Peter Calamis, Thomas L. McCally, LEAD ATTORNEYS, CARR MALONEY, P.C., Washington, DC.

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REGGIE B. WALTON, United States District Judge.

The plaintiff, Beulah J. Robinson, brings this action against her employer, Red Coats, Inc. (" Red Coats" ), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e-2, 2000e-3 (2006), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 623 (2006), and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (" D.C. Human Rights Act" ), D.C. Code § § 2-1402.11(a)(1), 2-1402.61(a)--(b) (2001), alleging discrimination based on her race and age and retaliation for filing a discrimination claim against Red Coats with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ). Complaint (" Compl." ) ¶ ¶ 23, 26, 33, 39. Currently before this Court is the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (" Def.'s Mot." ). After carefully considering the parties' submissions,[1] the Court concludes that it must grant the motion in part and deny it in part for the following reasons.


The plaintiff, Beulah Robinson, is an African-American woman who was seventy-five years of age when she was terminated from her position with the defendant as an office cleaner. Pl.'s Facts at 1, 2 ¶ 1; see Def.'s Mem. ¶ ¶ 1, 3, 6, 18. She was seventy-one years old when she began working for the defendant in June 2006. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 3; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 3. The parties dispute whether she was newly hired by the defendant or was simply retained when the defendant assumed the contract for cleaning services at 600 Maryland Avenue, N.W., in the District of Columbia, the location where the plaintiff worked as a cleaner at the time when she became a Red Coats employee. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 3; Def.'s Mem. ¶ ¶ 3--5. Before beginning her employment with the defendant, she had worked as a cleaner for over twenty years. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 3; see Def.'s Mem. ¶ 5. As a Red Coats employee, her primary job responsibilities were to empty trash receptacles and perform light dusting. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 1; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 6. While employed by Red Coats, the plaintiff was a member of a union with a Collective Bargaining Agreement governing numerous aspects of the parties' relationship. See Pl.'s Facts ¶ 4; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 22.

The sequence of events leading to the current litigation began when the plaintiff was reassigned from 600 Maryland Avenue, N.W., to an office building on K Street. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 4; see Def.'s Mem. ¶ ¶ 8--9. The defendant claims that she was transferred after it received complaints from the property manager that the plaintiff was not emptying all of the trash cans in her assigned area. Def.'s Mem. ¶ ¶ 8--9. The plaintiff successfully challenged her reassignment through her union, Pl.'s Facts ¶ 4, and she was relocated to an office building at 1225 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., in the District of Columbia in July 2010,

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Def.'s Mem. ¶ 10; see Pl.'s Mem. at 23.

The plaintiff began working at the Connecticut Avenue location in July 2010 and was supervised by Daniel Caceres, the Cleaning Supervisor, and Carmen Caceres, the Assistant Cleaning Supervisor. Def.'s Mem. ¶ ¶ 10--11; see Pl.'s Facts ¶ 2. The plaintiff asserts that when she arrived at the location for her first day of work, Ms. Caceres told her " Oh no[,] you can't work here" and then said, " [W]ell, you can work here today[,] [b]ut after today, you know, you can't work here anymore." Pl.'s Facts ¶ 2. The plaintiff was the only African-American and the oldest employee at that location. Id. ¶ 5(2); Pl.'s Opp'n, Exhibit (" Ex." ) 5 (Deposition of Daniel Caceres (" Daniel Caceres Depo." )) at 61:13--63:5.

The plaintiff was initially assigned to clean the seventh and eighth floors of the building. Def.'s Mem. ¶ 13; see Pl.'s Facts ¶ 5(2). From July through September 2010, Mr. Caceres issued repeated verbal warnings to the plaintiff, stating that he had been receiving complaints from the tenants of those floors that trash receptacles in the plaintiff's assigned area were not being emptied. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 1 (Deposition of Beulah Robinson (" Robinson Depo." )) at 39:12--40:10, 40:19--41:10; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 12. In either late September or early October 2010, the plaintiff was reassigned to clean the lower floors.[2] Pl.'s Facts ¶ 5; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 13. On October 4, 2010, the defendant claims that Mr. Caceres issued a verbal warning to the plaintiff, wherein he told the plaintiff that she " was missing trash every day, that she was never finishing her job, and that she was always asking for help." Def.'s Mem. ¶ 14. On that same day, the defendant contends that Mr. Caceres issued his first written warning to the plaintiff, stating that she " was again missing trash bags [on] the third floor," that " the crew had to stay late to finish [her] job," and that the plaintiff " told Mr. Caceres that [failing to empty trash bags] was not a problem unless the tenant complained." Id. ¶ 15. The defendant asserts that Mr. Caceres issued a second written warning on October 7, 2010 [3] to the plaintiff before the final warning and notice of termination was issued on October 13, 2010. Id. ¶ 17.

According to the plaintiff, she did not receive any of the written warnings until

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after her termination. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 6. She claims that she was forced to work alone to complete her tasks, while other younger Hispanic employees were able to work in crews. Id. She also alleges that she was given only four hours to complete the same work that other employees were given five hours to complete, id. ¶ 5(1), and that she was disciplined and ultimately terminated for not servicing trash receptacles within her first two weeks on the lower floors when other employees were typically given two weeks to learn where the trash receptacles were located, id. ¶ 5(2).

The plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination against Red Coats with the EEOC on October 1, 2010, complaining of both age and race discrimination in violation of Title VII and the ADEA. Pl.'s Mem. at 29; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 19. The plaintiff's EEOC Charge listed the defendant's address as 1225 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., the office building to which she was assigned when she filed her administrative complaint. Pl.'s Mem. at 29--30; Def.'s Mem. ¶ 19. Although the defendant has a " storage room" in that building, Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 3 (Deposition of Blaine Wilson (" Wilson Depo." )) ...

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