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Daniel v. Johns Hopkins Univ.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

July 30, 2015

ROGER DANIEL, Plaintiff,
v.
THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants

Page 313

For ROGER DANIEL, Plaintiff: John C Luke, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, LAW OFFICES OF JOHN C. LUKE JR., Uniondale, NY; Da'Net J. H. Sturdifen, LAW OFFICE OF D. J. STURDIFEN, Alexandria, VA.

For JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, GEORGE PETASIS, SHANNA HINES, Defendants: Moxila A. Upadhyaya, LEAD ATTORNEY, VENABLE LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 314

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Royce C. Lamberth, J.

In this case, plaintiff Roger Daniel (" Daniel" ) brings several claims against defendant The Johns Hopkins University (" JHU" ), including racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (" Section 1981" ), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), and the D.C. Human Rights Act (" DCHRA" ) (Counts I, II, and III), assault and battery (Count IV), retaliation under Section 1981, Title VII, and the DCHRA (Count V), hostile work environment under Section 1981, Title VII, and the DCHRA (Count VI), and wrongful termination under Section 1981, Title VII, and the DCHRA (Count VII). Daniel also brings claims of racial discrimination in violation of Section 1981, Title VII and the DCHRA against defendants George Petasis (" Petasis" ) and Shanna Hines (" Hines" ).

Before the Court are the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 12, the plaintiff's Opposition, ECF No. 14, and the defendants' Reply, ECF No. 16. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will GRANT the defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

In or about November 2012, Daniel, who is African-American, applied to JHU's School of Advanced International Studies (" SAIS" ) for the position of Multimedia Production Coordinator. Daniel Dep. in Richardson v. JHU, et. al. at 70:2-7, July 31, 2014, ECF No. 12-8; Hines Decl. ¶ 10, ECF No. 12-4. Daniel was hired for the position, and his job duties included, " among other things, providing video and audio services for classes and special events, providing post-production services for recordings, and supporting SAIS's video teleconferencing and web conferencing needs," as well as providing " support to the IT help desk when needed and to perform other duties as assigned." Hines Decl. ¶ 11. Daniel began working at JHU on December 11, 2012. Letter from Shanna Hines to Roger Daniel (Dec. 3, 2012), ECF No. 12-11. When JHU employees begin their employment, they first enter a probationary period, during which the supervisor assesses the employee's suitability for the position. Hines Decl. ¶ 5. Defendant Hines was the Human Resources Manager when Daniel was employed at JHU's SAIS, and defendant Petasis was the Chief Information Officer. Hines Decl. ¶ ¶ 2-3. When Daniel first started at SAIS, Sharon Richardson (" Richardson" ) was Daniel's immediate supervisor. Daniel Dep. at 83:18-20, July 31, 2014. Mohammad Elahi (" Elahi" ) became Daniel's immediate supervisor after Richardson left. Daniel Dep. at 226:16-18, July 31, 2014.

Shortly after he started his employment at SAIS, several meetings were held to address Daniel's complaints about work, including meetings with Petasis and Elahi regarding Daniel's Saturday work schedule, lack of parking space and lack of place to store his personal belongings. Email from Roger Daniel to George Petasis (Jan. 24, 2013, 8:35 PM), ECF No. 12-12. On Thursday, January 31, 2013, a Carey Business School employee sent Daniel a request for assistance with a lecture on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Email from Socorro Diaz-Perry to Roger Daniel (Jan. 31, 2013, 2:27 PM), ECF No. 12-4. Daniel responded, stating that he was unfamiliar with the software, and forwarded the email to his supervisor.

Page 315

Email from Roger Daniel to Socorro Diaz-Perry (Jan. 31, 2013, 4:00 PM), ECF No. 12-4. The same day, Elahi contacted Petasis and wrote that Daniel's " handing over everything to [Elahi] is not helpful," emphasizing that they " need a solution for this position in the next couple of weeks." Email from Mohammad Elahi to George Petasis (Jan. 31, 2013, 4:25 PM), ECF No. 12-4. Daniel was terminated on February 4, 2013, 55 days after starting his employment at SAIS and well within his probationary period. Letter from Shanna Hines to Roger Daniel (Feb. 4, 2013), ECF No. 12-13; Hines Decl. ¶ 17.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment shall be granted if " the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is a fact that might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is " genuine" if " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. " A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).

In making a summary judgment determination, the court must believe the evidence of the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, However, " the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party" is insufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. at 252. Instead, evidence must exist on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party. Id. Rule 56(c) " mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence ...


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