United States District Court, D. Columbia.
Decided August 21, 2014
For Keith Taylor, Plaintiff: Nicholas Woodfield, LEAD ATTORNEY, R. Scott Oswald, THE EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP, P.C., Washington , DC.
For Federal National Mortgage Association, doing business as FANNIE MAE, David Magidson, Defendants: Damien G. Stewart, Seth Jeremy Blonder, LEAD ATTORNEYS, FANNIE MAE, Washington , DC.
Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Keith Taylor (" Taylor" ) seeks declaratory relief and damages for alleged retaliatory employment termination. Taylor alleged that defendants, Fannie Mae and David Magidson (individual, " Fannie Mae" and " Magidson" , or collectively " defendants" ), retaliated against him by wrongfully terminating his employment because he raised concerns that Magidson was reporting fraudulent data to federal regulators. Taylor alleged that his termination violated the Dodd-Frank Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78u-6 (2012), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (" SOX" ), 18 U.S.C. § 1514A (2012), and that his termination was a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Defendants seek summary judgment of plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Defendants argue that plaintiff did not engage in any activity protected by SOX and that his public policy claim is deficient. For the following reasons, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.
Taylor was hired by Fannie Mae as an Operational Risk Analyst III in spring 2010. On September 27, 2010, Magidson, Fannie Mae's vice president of Risk and Controls for Operations and Technology and Taylor's second-level supervisor, asked Taylor to provide him with information regarding trending in operational incidents. At the time, Fannie Mae was implementing a process called the software development life-cycle (" SDLC" ). Magidson sought information from Taylor to determine whether SDLC efforts had reduced operational incidents. From the information Taylor provided, Magidson
mistakenly calculated that technology-related operation incidents had dropped 60% from 2009 to 2010. The mistaken statistic was then disseminated to Fannie Mae employees and presented to Fannie Mae's Senior Management Group and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (" FHFA" ), Fannie Mae's regulator. After several questions about the reliability of the 60% statistic, Magidson scheduled a meeting with Taylor and Taylor's immediate supervisor, Jill Oliver (" Oliver" ), to discuss the data. During that meeting on November 4, 2011, Magidson realized that his calculations were incorrect and that he had misunderstood the data Taylor provided. Magidson then prepared a retraction of the incorrect 60% statistic.
Fannie Mae has a SOX Business Team that is a designated internal organization with expertise to determine whether an identified risk has SOX implications. Fannie Mae makes available to its employees an operational incident database, ACCORD. Operational risk professionals who suspect that they are confronted with an operational incident that has SOX or financial reporting implications are required to log the incident in ACCORD so that the SOX Business Team may evaluate the incident. Fannie Mae also has a Compliance and Ethics Department. The Fannie Mae Code of Conduct requires all employees to report any suspicions about potential violations of law. Neither Taylor nor Oliver contacted the SOX Business Team or the Compliance and Ethics Department and nor did they log an incident in the ACCORD system regarding Magidson's use of the incorrect statistic.
In early 2011, Magidson was instructed by his manager and second-level supervisor to " shape-shift" his organization. To accommodate this instruction, Magidson engaged in a reduction-in-force which resulted in Taylor's termination on April 21, 2011. After his termination, Taylor filed a claim with Fannie Mae's Compliance and Ethics Department that Magidson had violated the company's Code of Conduct. Taylor filed suit against Fannie Mae in this Court on June 28, 2011. Compl., ECF No. 1. This Court dismissed the case for arbitration on March 20, 2012. Order, ECF No. 13. On September 6, 2013, the case was reopened after the conclusion of a nonbinding arbitration process. Order, ECF No. 18. On December 30, 2012, defendants moved for summary judgment. Defs. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 24. Taylor filed his Opposition to the Motion for Summary ...