United States District Court, D. Columbia.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For Ramesh Sharma, Mr., Plaintiff: David A. Branch, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF DAVID BRANCH, Washington, DC.
For Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, WMATA, Richard White, Mr., individually and as General Manager, WMATA, Mark Sullivan, Mr., individully and as Asst. General Counsel for WMATA, Cheryl Burke, Ms., individully and as General Counsel, WMATA, James Zingale, Mr., individually and as Managing Director & Contracting Officer, WMATA, William Ellerman, Mr., individually and as Contracting Officer, WMATA, Ruth Parks, Ms., individually and as Employee Relations Officer, WMATA, Robin Henry, Ms.,individually and as Manager, Medical Services, WMATA, Defendants: David J. Shaffer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bruce P. Heppen, WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Washington, DC.
Thomas F. Hogan, Senior United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Ramesh Sharma filed this action asserting claims for breach of contract and tortious interference. He also brings claims of discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ). He alleges that defendants discriminated against him and retaliated against him by mistreating him in the workplace, refusing to retain him as an independent contractor, thwarting his efforts to obtain employment references from his former supervisors, and interfering with the calculation of his monthly retirement pension benefit. His breach of contract and tortious interference claims are based on the same factual allegations. Before the Court are defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, the oppositions and replies thereto, and the entire record of this case. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and GRANTS defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety.
It would be something of an understatement to say these parties have an extensive litigation history. In 1984, plaintiff and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (" WMATA" ) reached a settlement agreement with respect to claims of discrimination plaintiff had asserted. Mem. Op., Sharma v. Washington Metro. Area Transit Auth., 94-cv-305 (TFH), *16 (D.D.C. Oct. 10, 2000). Five years later, plaintiff filed two additional claims of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which the parties also settled. Id. Another claim of discrimination followed in 1993, which culminated in a lawsuit filed in 1994. The parties devised a mutually acceptable Agreement in Principle resolving that litigation (" Settlement Agreement" ) in November 2001. Compl. ¶ 10. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, plaintiff agreed to resign from WMATA. Pl.'s Amended/Corrected Opp.
Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. and Cross Mot. Partial Summ. J. (" Pl.'s Br." ) at 2. The Settlement Agreement also provided that:
Plaintiff will not apply for any position with WMATA at any time in the future.
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WMATA agrees to permit the Plaintiff to accept employment or [a] consulting position with any contractor doing work for [WMATA], except if there exists an actual or apparent conflict of interest.
Pl.'s Ex. A ¶ ¶ 11, 13. Otherwise, the Settlement Agreement contained relatively standard provisions, including a section that forbade WMATA from retaliating against plaintiff in the future, Compl. ¶ 31, and a provision that WMATA would provide neutral reference information to plaintiff's prospective employers. Id. ¶ 28. The parties executed the Settlement Agreement on November 6, 2001. Pl.'s Ex. A ¶ 4.
Plaintiff has filed two different lawsuits related to the Settlement Agreement; the instant lawsuit, and a lawsuit focused primarily on plaintiff's claims that WMATA and its employees and agents improperly interfered with the computation of his monthly retirement pension benefit.
Here, plaintiff alleges that WMATA and its employees began an intensive campaign of retaliation after he signed the Settlement Agreement. Pl.s' Ex. A ¶ 7. Specially, he contends that WMATA separated him from his staff and office equipment, threatened him with police action, and forcibly removed him from the WMATA building. Id. He also avouches that WMATA prevented his former colleagues from providing reference information to potential employers. Pl.'s Br. at 4. Plaintiff avers that when he threatened to go on a hunger strike outside the WMATA building to protest this treatment, WMATA and its employees attempted to have him declared " insane." Id.
Plaintiff's last day at the WMATA building was December 31, 2001, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (" Defs.' Br." ) at 2, though he remained on WMATA's payroll through March 31, 2002, so that he could exhaust his accrued annual leave. See Defs.' Ex. 5 at 6-7. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff contacted a WMATA official and offered to work for WMATA as an independent contractor or consultant. Pl.'s Ex. A ¶ 15. According to plaintiff, two of the individual WMATA defendants intervened and told the WMATA official that plaintiff could not work for WMATA as a consultant, id. ¶ 16, formal notification of which plaintiff received on or about May 7, 2002. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff filed a ...