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Kline v. Archuleta

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

April 14, 2015

VALERIE KLINE, Plaintiff,
v.
KATHERINE ARCHULETA, Defendant

For VALERIE KLINE, Plaintiff: Valerie Kline, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lothian, MD.

For KATHERINE ARCHULETA, Director, United States Office of Personnel Management, Defendant: Kenneth A. Adebonojo, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Royce C. Lamberth, J.

In this suit, Ms. Valerie Kline, pro se, claims her employers at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management retaliated against her for filing EEOC complaints by " stripping her of her professional duties." Pl.'s Second Am. Compl. ¶ 94. She brings this suit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C.S. § 1981.

Before the Court are plaintiff's Motion [ECF No. 124] for Partial Summary Judgment, defendant's Opposition [ECF No. 133], and plaintiff's reply [ECF No. 139]. Also before the Court are defendant's Motion [ECF No. 132] to Dismiss or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment, plaintiff's opposition [ECF No. 141], defendant's reply [ECF No. 142], and plaintiff's surreply [ECF No. 143]. Upon consideration of these motions, applicable law, and the record in this case, the Court will GRANT defendant's motion for summary judgment and DENY plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

Ms. Kline is a federal employee working at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). In 2002, she " was hired . . . as a GS-12 Management Analyst." Pl.'s Second Am. Compl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 123. She alleges she " was hired to perform regulatory work on a full-time basis for OPM's Publications Management Group (PMG) and act as the 'backup' to Jacqueline Carter." Id. ¶ 14.

In May 2003, Ms. Kline's Position Description (PD) was changed to include non-regulatory duties because there were not enough regulatory duties to support both her and Ms. Carter. Id. ¶ ¶ 19-20. Her new PD listed four major duties, only one of which mentioned regulatory work: Ms. Kline was to " Assist[] the Regulatory Team by performing activities related to Regulatory Issuance by providing editorial review and interpretation of policy." ECF No. 134-1 Ex. 4 (" Kline 2003 PD" ) at 2. These changes were the subject of a previous lawsuit brought by Ms. Kline, Kline v. Springer, 602 F.Supp.2d 234 (D.D.C. 2009) aff'd sub nom. Kline v. Berry, 404 Fed.Appx. 505 (D.C. Cir. 2010). On appeal, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to OPM, holding that most of the alleged injuries were not actionable under Title VII, that they did not result from illicit discrimination, and that OPM offered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for Ms. Kline's mediocre performance evaluation. Kline v. Berry, 404 Fed.Appx. 505, 505 (D.C. Cir. 2010).

Nonetheless, Ms. Kline alleges that even after being reassigned, she " performed regulatory work, including review of the regulations for conformance with the Federal Register Office, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements and for publishing regulatory issuances in the Federal Register and CFR." Second Am. Compl. ¶ 22. She alleges that she " performed Federal Register Office and Liaison duties" in addition to " some non-regulatory duties." Id. ¶ ¶ 23, 25.

On March 29, 2006, Ms. Kline's supervisors received an e-mail raising concerns that she was using her work computer inappropriately and was attempting to procure weapons and ammunition from someone she knew online. Id. ¶ 27. On April 5, 2006, Ms. Kline's supervisor, Mr. William Davis, placed her on Administrative Leave pending an investigation by the Inspector General's Office (OIG) into these allegations. Id. ¶ 28. Ms. Kline was asked to surrender all government property in her possession, including a cell phone, a computer, and a badge. Id. ¶ ¶ 30, 33.

On April 19, 2006, Ms. Kline initiated an informal EEO action against OPM. Id. ¶ 34. Ms. Kline alleged she was discriminated against on the bases of her race (Caucasian) and sex (female), and in retaliation for prior EEO activity, when she was placed on Administrative Leave. Pl.'s EEO Complaint No. 2006024, ECF No. 132-1, Ex. 1.

Upon conclusion of the investigation, the OIG stated in its report that there was no evidence to support the allegations that Ms. Kline had attempted to procure weapons and ammunition, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 37, and she was cleared of wrongdoing, id. ¶ 39. The OIG investigation did, however, reveal that Ms. Kline " maintained and visited various websites utilizing government equipment during her work hours . . . In addition, Ms. Kline stated that she is only provided with (4) four hours' worth of work per week and thus she visited the internet." Defs.' Ex. 9, ECF No. 132-1.

On May 15, 2006, Ms. Kline filed a formal complaint of retaliation, and Ms. Kline's supervisors were contacted by the EEO investigators on or about May 23, 2006. Second Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 42, 45.

On or about June 16, 2006, Mr. Davis asked Ms. Kline to return to work. Id. ¶ 46. She returned on June 20, 2006. Id. ¶ 47.

Ms. Kline alleges that on her first day back, she " met with Mr. Davis who told her that she was no longer going to be performing regulatory work or assisting Ms. Carter as she had done in the past." Id. ¶ 48. In an apparent contradiction, Ms. Kline also alleges that " Mr. Davis also informed [Ms. Kline] that she would no longer be acting as Ms. Carter's " backup" but would only be performing regulatory work on an " as needed" basis." Id. ¶ 49. " Mr. Davis further informed [Ms. Kline] that Mr. Coco was now a Team Leader and would be responsible for assigning her regulatory work, if necessary." Id. ¶ 50. " Mr. Davis further informed [Ms. Kline] that she was not to send regulatory documents to the Federal Register Office under her signature and authority but that any regulatory issuances had to be sent under Mr. Coco's signature and authority if Ms. Carter was not available." Id. ¶ 55. Mr. Davis also informed her that she would be assisting Mr. Coco in an administrative capacity and be primarily responsible for answering the telephone and responding to emails sent to the Publications inbox. Id. ¶ ¶ 56-58. Indeed, Ms. Kline alleges that after she returned from Administrative Leave she was only ...


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