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Kangethe v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 15, 2014

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

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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.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge.

John Kangethe, an economist for the District of Columbia government, has applied for an array of promotions over the past few years. He has been unsuccessful in them all. Kangethe ascribes this outcome to racism and ageism, and complains of a deteriorating work environment that he believes is rooted in retaliation. The District, however, has proffered valid explanations for its actions, and hence merits summary judgment on Kangethe's claims.

BACKGROUND

John Kangethe, a man of Kenyan origin in his sixties, has been employed as a labor economist by the District of Columbia's Department of Employment Services (" DOES" ) since 2002. Over the years, DOES has experienced considerable turnover, resulting in a number of vacant positions. In May 2008, Kangethe temporarily filled one of those positions: Labor Market Information Acting Chief, an informal designation. See Ex. A to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. [ECF No. 49-1] at 3. This position was formalized as a temporary promotion to Supervisory Labor Economist in August 2009. The temporary promotion included a pay raise but, from the beginning, both the position and the raise were set to expire in three months. See id. at 15.

In the meantime, DOES was advertising for a permanent Supervisory Labor Economist. Kangethe applied to the first and third postings of that position (posting Nos. 10572 and 13183), but not the second (No. 11294). The third posting attracted only four applicants, and only Kangethe was qualified for the position. See Ex. S to Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. [ECF No. 51-6] at 46. But he was not hired--nor was anyone else. Then-director of DOES Joseph Walsh explained that he did not want to fill any position that did not have a larger pool of applicants. See Ex. C to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. [ECF No. 49-3] at 6-7.

Kangethe's quest for a promotion, however, continued. In the spring of 2011, he applied to be the Associate Director for Labor Market and Workforce Research and Analysis (No. 17538). That position was cancelled, and later reposted (No. 18016) with a requirement of five years' specialized experience in supervisory or project coordination--a requirement, according to HR, that Kangethe did not meet. See Ex. A at 104. When that search failed to produce a hire, the position was posted once more (No. 19401). Kangethe applied for that position, too, but only after Ilia Rainer had already accepted an offer. Compare Ex. P to Pl.'s Opp'n [ECF No. 51-5] at 8 with id. at 15.

Frustrated with his inability to secure a promotion, Kangethe had long since initiated the EEOC administrative process. Failing to obtain relief through the EEOC, Kangethe filed a complaint against DOES. He argued both that DOES failed to hire him for these positions, and that DOES retaliated against him because of his complaints (by demoting him from his temporary position, and disciplining him for failing to complete his work as requested), which he believes amounted to a hostile work environment. As DOES is not a suable entity, the Court permitted Kangethe to file an amended complaint against the District of Columbia. Sept. 18, 2012 Mem. Op. & Order [ECF No. 22] at 5. He did so, asserting claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Equal Pay Act. On motion by the

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District, the Court dismissed the Equal Pay Act claims, but permitted the rest of Kangethe's claims to proceed. July 15, 2013 Mem. Op. [ECF No. 33]. Following full discovery, the District and ...


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