United States District Court, D. Columbia
DION E. BLACK, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant
E. BLACK, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant: Shermineh
C. Jones, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.
G. Sullivan, United States District Judge.
Dion Black (" Mr. Black" ) filed this lawsuit after
being reassigned by Defendant, the District of Columbia
(" the District" ), to a new position within the
District's Department of Transportation ("
DDOT" ). Mr. Black alleges four claims: (1) violation of
his due process rights; (2) conspiracy among District
employees to deprive him of his due process rights; (3)
whistleblower protection; and (4) defamation. Am. Compl.,
Docket No. 11 at 11-17.
Upon consideration of the motion, the response and reply
thereto, the applicable law, and the entire record, the
District's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
Mr. Black's official reprimand procedure and
Black worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the
DDOT. Am. Compl. ¶ 25. On January 10, 2012, Assistant
Attorney General for DDOT Melissa Williams (" Ms.
Williams" ) informed Mr. Black that she was proposing an
official reprimand be issued for his absence without approved
leave, neglect of duty, and insubordination. Id.
¶ ¶ 13-14. Mr. Black, in accordance with DDOT
procedures and D.C. Code § 1-616.51 (2013), was afforded
an opportunity to provide a written response to the proposed
discipline action. Id. ¶ 17. Mr. Black filed a
written response on January 17, 2012 with Steve Messam
(" Mr. Messam" ), the Deputy Chief of the
DDOT's Administrative Services Branch. Mr. Messam
acknowledged receipt of Mr. Black's response by signing
the envelope within which the written response was enclosed.
Id. ¶ 22.
Black's case was assigned to Ronaldo Nicholson ("
Mr. Nicholson" ), a deciding official who did not have a
working relationship with Ms. Williams or Mr. Black.
Id. ¶ 32. In May 2012, Mr. Black was reassigned
to a position in the Transportation Policy and Planning
Administration (" TPPA" ) within DDOT. Id.
¶ 25 ; Ex. 6.
November 2012, Mr. Black requested a copy of DDOT's
grievance alternative dispute procedures. Id. Mr.
Messam directed Mr. Black to the District Personnel Manual
Chapter 16. Id. ¶ ¶ 30-31. Mr. Black
responded that " in accordance with DPM § 1633.1,
each agency Director must approve an agency policy for
alternative dispute resolution and that this approved process
must be reasonably made known to employees upon
request." Id. ¶ 30.
December 7, 2012, Ms. Williams allegedly instructed one of
her subordinates to finalize the disciplinary action letter
for Mr. Nicholson's signature. Id. ¶ 33. In
December 2012, Mr. Black contacted Mr. Nicholson directly to
ensure he had Mr. Black's response. Id. ¶
33. Mr. Black then e-mail Mr. Messam to ensure his response
was being considered. Id., Ex. 8. Mr. Messam assured
Mr. Black that the Mr. Nicholson was following the fair and
impartial procedures set forth by DPM 1613 and that Mr.
Black's response had been submitted to Mr. Nicholson.
Id. Mr. Messam added " your attempt at ex
parte communication with Mr. Nicholson essentially
impedes [the fair and impartial] process." Id.
Still, Mr. Messam invited Mr. Black to resubmit his response
in a sealed package to Human Resources staff. Id.
December 21, 2012, Mr. Messam met with Mr. Black and gave him
the final decision letter signed by Mr. Nicholson.
Id. ¶ 45. The letter stated that Mr. Nicholson
reviewed the proposed reprimand, Mr. Black's written
response, and other documentation. Id. ¶ 46;
see also Ex. 9. Mr. Black asked for a copy of his
response from Mr. Messam's file. Id. ¶ 47.
Mr. Messam indicated Mr. Black's response was in Ms.
Williams's possession. Id.
Mr. Black's appeal of the final reprimand
Mr. Black's reprimand was issued, he submitted a
grievance of the discipline action to Jose Thommana ("
Mr. Thommana" ), the assigned grievance official.
Id. ¶ ¶ 49-50. Mr. Black argued that the
reprimand process violated his due process rights, in
particular because Ms. Williams and Mr. Messam did not
provide Mr. Black's response to the proposed disciplinary
action to Mr. Nicholson. Id. at ¶ 51. Mr. Black
also requested that Mr. Thommana
implement the alternative dispute resolution procedure "
as required pursuant to District Personnel Manual §