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Lyles v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

August 27, 2014

EVELYN LYLES, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

Page 182

For EVELYN M. LYLES, Plaintiff: Lyndon P. Dreven, Tami Lynn Azorsky, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Andrew R. Shaw, MCKENNA LONG & ALDRIDGE LLP, Washington, DC.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant: Sarah L. Knapp, LEAD ATTORNEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

Page 183

Re Document No.: 57

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

Denying Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment and Motion For Reconsideration

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff Evelyn Lyles brought this employment discrimination action against her employer, the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health (" District" ). Ms. Lyles alleged that she was discriminated against, retaliated against, and subjected to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities

Page 184

Act. See generally Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 9. The District moved for summary judgment, and on February 20, 2014, this Court granted in part and denied in part that motion. See Mem. Op., ECF No. 53 (February 20, 2014). Specifically, the Court granted the District's motion for summary judgment on all but the following two claims: (1) Plaintiff's Count I for sexual harassment and (2) part of Plaintiff's Count IV for retaliation. As to Count I, the Court instructed the defendant to file a renewed motion for summary judgment in light of the legal standard the Court set forth for a hostile work environment claim in its Memorandum Opinion. See Order, ECF No. 52 (February 20, 2014). As to Count IV, the Court found that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the District's proffered reason for transferring Ms. Lyles to the Day Services Program was a pretext. Pending before the Court now is the defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment, along with a motion for reconsideration on the retaliation claim. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the District's motion on both grounds.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Facts as Stated in Prior Memorandum Opinion

The Court recounts the facts as stated in its prior Memorandum Opinion at 1-6, with a few minor modifications:

Evelyn Lyles began working for the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health in 1994 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist. See Second Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 9 (" Compl." ). She worked in the Department's Supported Employment Program, which was part of the Department's Community Service Administration. See Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 1, ECF No. 45. Her job entailed " providing a full range of consumer employment and vocational rehabilitation services for persons with severe and persistent mental[] illnesses . . . . [with] [e]mphasis . . . on empowering individuals to change their own lives . . . ." Pl.'s Ex. 2 at 9, ECF No. 46-3. From 2002 until 2003, Ms. Lyles generally received good or excellent work performance evaluations from her then-supervisor, Deborah Hobbs. See Pl.'s Opp'n Mot. 3, ECF No. 46 (citing Pl.'s Exs. 4 & 5, ECF Nos. 46-5 & 46-6). In 2003, the District hired Carroll Parks to serve as the Director of the Adult Services Program (also within the Supported Employment Program), and he became Ms. Lyles's supervisor. See id. Mr. Parks gave Ms. Lyles excellent work performance evaluations from 2004 through 2006. See id. (citing Pl.'s Exs. 6 & 8 (Evaluations), ECF Nos. 46-7 & 46-9).

B. Allegations of Sexual Harassment

In the fall of 2006, Mr. Parks hired Steven Miller to join Ms. Lyles's team. Ms. Lyles served as Mr. Miller's supervisor. Id. Ms. Lyles alleges that from March 2007 through August 2008, Mr. Miller " verbally and physically sexually harassed" her. See Pl.'s Ex. 10, Pl.'s Resp. to Interrogatory No. 5, ECF No. 46-11. She alleges that Mr. Miller " made lewd gestures toward [her], including imitating that he was spanking [her]." Id. In addition, he " would go out of his way when passing [her] in the hall to brush up next to her." Id. Ms. Lyles also alleged that on or around August 2007, Mr. Miller " grabbed [her] breast while they were in [her] office." Id. Even after he was transferred to a different office in November 2007, he would find ways to harass her, by " brush[ing] up close against [her] and star[ing] menacingly at" her. Id. In her formal complaint to the EEOC, Ms. Lyles stated that the sexual hostile work environment " consisted of [Mr. Miller] being inappropriate with his language. He

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would pat me on my buttocks and make gestures with his hands as if he was jingling [sic] a butt." See Pl.'s Ex. 33, ECF No. 46-34. He also told her he would have to take her somewhere to give her a spanking. See id. She testified in her deposition that " there were times where he would make verbal slurs about I could spank you and that would change your ways . . . [a]nd different times I would take information into his office and he would make hand gestures as though he was juggling boobs with his hands." Lyles Dep. at 80:13-19, ECF No. 46-12. He would also try to close the door when Ms. Lyles would come into his office, even though she would ask him not to. Lyles Dep. at 80:20-22-81:1-4.

Ms. Lyles also received reports that Mr. Miller sexually harassed two other women. According to Ms. Lyles, around March or April 2007, Melody Crutchfield told her that Mr. Miller walked up behind her and grabbed her (Ms. Crutchfield's) breasts. See Lyles Dep. at 69:12-22; see also Pl.'s Ex. 12 Alleged Conduct of Steven Miller -- Supported Employment Program at 1, ECF No. 46-13. Also according to Ms. Lyles, around June 2007, Ms. Joan Mitchell reported to her that Mr. Miller had " approached her from behind, [and] he pressed his penis against the middle of her buttocks indicating that he was excited." See id. at 3. Another co-worker of Ms. Lyles (according to Ms. Lyles), Ms. Carolyn Stevens, told Ms. Lyles that Ms. Mitchell had reported to her that Mr. Miller had " grabbed [Ms. Mitchell's] breasts." See id. at 2.

Ms. Lyles explained that she did several things in response to these reports, and in response to her own alleged harassment. She first called Mrs. Green at the personnel office. Mrs. Green suggested that Ms. Lyles contact Brendolyn McCarty-Jones, the Senior Labor Relations Specialist for the Community Services Administration. Ms. Jones advised Ms. Lyles to contact Mr. Parks. See Lyles Dep. at 77-78. On or around June 14, 2007, Ms. Lyles contacted Mr. Parks to report her concern with Mr. Miller. See Pl.'s Ex. 12 at 1; see also Pl.'s Resp. to Interrogatory No. 4, ECF No. 46-2 (" [p]laintiff met with Carroll Parks regarding Mr. Miller's behavior toward the Plaintiff, and toward two other women, Melody Crutchfield and Joan Mitchell. In this meeting, the Plaintiff informed Mr. Parks of harassment that she was experiencing from Mr. Miller" ). Mr. Parks told Ms. Lyles to write up her allegations, which she did in a statement she prepared on June 19, 2007. See Pl.'s Ex. 12 at 1 (explaining that the statement " is provided as a follow-up to the verbal report that I made to you on June 14, 2007 regarding allegations made against Mr. Steven Miller" ). That document described Ms. Mitchell's and Ms. Crutchfield's incidents of sexual harassment, but did not include Ms. Lyles's own allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Miller.[1]

In addition, according to Ms. Lyles, in January 2008, she met with Gillian Daniels, an Administrative Officer for the Vocational Rehabilitation Division regarding the harassment from Mr. Miller. See Pl.'s Resp. to Interrogatory No. 4, ECF No. 46-2. Ms. Daniels suggested that Ms. Lyles reach out to an EEO Officer for the Department of Mental Health named Mr.

Page 186

Boone. See id. Ms. Lyles contacted him by email and by voicemail in February and March of 2008. See id. Mr. Boone reported that his Department was ...


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