United States District Court, D. Columbia
HENRY KNIGHT, JR., Plaintiff, Pro se, Oxon Hill, MD.
RAYMOND EDWIN MABUS, JR., Secretary of the Navy, Defendant:
Wyneva Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.
R. COOPER, United States District Judge.
Henry Knight resigned his job at the Office of Naval
Intelligence after it was recommended that he be fired for
verbally threatening three of his co-workers. He has now sued
the Navy for workplace harassment and discriminatory
termination. Finding that Knight has failed to present
sufficient evidence to support either claim, the Court will
grant summary judgment in favor of the Defendant.
John Henry Knight, proceeding pro se, once held the
position of Property
Disposal Specialist at the Office of Naval Intelligence
(" ONI" ), Mission Support Directorate ("
MSD" ), Installation Operations Department. The position
required that he " be eligible for assignment to
sensitive duties," Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss
Alt. Summ. J. (" Def.'s Mem." ), Ex. 1, at 2,
and have a top secret clearance. Knight reported to Lori
Gorczyca, who was his team lead; Douglas Richard Lacey, who
was his first-level supervisor; Mark Lawson, who was his
second-level supervisor; and Timothy Gavaghan, who was his
point, Knight's supervisors developed concerns about his
work attendance. On several occasions, he arrived late, took
long lunches, or left early, and at other times his
whereabouts during the workday were unknown. At Mr.
Lacey's request, the ONI Inspector General ("
ONI/IG" ) investigated suspicions of time and attendance
abuse by Knight from January 6, 2008 through August 21, 2009,
covering 42.5 pay periods, or 3,400 hours. Among other
sources, the investigator reviewed employee entry- and
exit-card data as well as time sheets. When asked to address
these absences, Knight claimed that he was participating in
an exercise program, had trouble finding parking, was on
administrative leave, and was visiting a branch of the
Federal Credit Union. Although Knight accounted for and
received credit for certain time periods, there remained
" discrepancies totaling 275 hours, 15 minutes during
the period in question," substantiating his
supervisors' suspicions that Knight had failed to
properly account for his absences in violation of Department
of Defense rules. Def.'s Mem., Ex. 8 ¶ 3.
on the results of the ONI/IG investigation, Mr. Gavaghan
proposed Knight's termination. Knight appealed the
proposal, but the MSD's Deputy Director issued a decision
to remove Knight from federal service in May 2010. Before the
removal took effect, however, the parties voluntarily entered
into a Last Chance Agreement (" LCA" ) in June
2010, which suspended Knight's removal for a probationary
period of two years. Among other conditions, Knight agreed to
a 25-day suspension without pay, " [t]o maintain
satisfactory punctuality, attendance, and good work habits
acceptable to management," and to avoid misconduct.
Id. Ex. 13 ¶ 3. And if, at the end of the
two-year period, Knight had fulfilled the agreement's
requirements and kept his security clearance, the removal
would be canceled.
squandered his " last chance" after only a few
months. In January 2011, Mr. Gavaghan again proposed
Knight's removal, citing him for making threats and
exhibiting other disrespectful behavior toward co-workers and
supervisors. Id. Ex. 14, at 1. In a Notice of
Proposed Removal addressed to Knight, Mr. Gavaghan described
three incidents to support the proposal:
I held a meeting with [Mr. Lawton, Mr. Lacey, Ms. Gorczyca]
and you on 22 September 2010. The purpose of this meeting was
to address personnel, time and attendance, and communications
issues that were having a negative effect of the operations
of the Property Management Team. When I solicited solutions
to resolve the strained work environment and the perception
of a hostile environment, you made the following statement:
" [F]ire her and shoot him[," ] indicating Ms.
Gorczyca and Mr. Lacey. Your comment would have been
perceived as a threat and disrespectful to the reasonable
person and was perceived as disrespectful and a threat by
your supervisors. Your comment has created pervasive
mistrust, unease, and fear in the workplace, which negatively
impacts the Property Management Team and its members
professionally and personally and reduces the team's
ability to effectively and efficiently fulfill the mission of
. . . . On 19 August 2010, Mr. Joseph Collins, Property
Management Team Member, was talking with Mr. Shearer in Mr.
Shearer's office. You stopped Mr. Collins upon leaving
Mr. Shearer's office and inquired about his discussion
with Mr. Shearer. When Mr. Collins refrained from engaging
with you regarding your discussion, you stated the following:
" You know snitches live in ditches[.]" Your
comment would have been perceived by the reasonable person as
a threat and disrespectful and was perceived by Mr. Collins
as a threat and disrespectful.
. . . . On 30 June 2010, Mr. Lacey spoke with you concerning
your absence from a mandatory Directorate all-hands meeting
and your absence from a standing bi-weekly property
management meeting. Subsequently, on 20 July 2010, Mr. Lacey
issued you a Memorandum for the Record (MFR) that addressed
this concern and steps needed to manage your calendar to
ensure that you did not miss any future scheduled meetings.
You indicated to Mr. Lacey that you were not like him and
that you don't do that. When Mr. Lacey advised you of
your need to be more responsible, you refused to sign the MFR
and stated the following, " Looks like you're
starting this stuff again." Your comments to Mr. Lacey
would have been perceived by the reasonable person as
disrespectful and [were] perceived by Mr. Lacey as
Id. Ex. 14 at 1-2; see also id. Ex. 15.
Based on these events, Mr. Gavaghan concluded that Knight had
" caused a disruption in the workplace and foster[ed]
relationships that are adversarial and hostile[.]"
Id. Ex. 14 at 2. In addition, he found that
Knight's behavior " caused ONI management . . . to
spend many hours of work effort to address [Knight's]
actions, when such time could have been used more
productively." Id. Mr. Gavaghan thus
recommended Knight's removal.
responsible official within the Navy reviewed a written
response to the removal proposal submitted by Knight, but
decided to " effect [his] removal from Federal
Service" in February 2011, based on the incidents
described in the removal proposal, which she concluded
amounted to a breach of the LCA's provision against
misconduct. Id. Ex. 18. Before the decision took
effect, Knight submitted his resignation.
then contacted ONI's Equal Employment Opportunity and
Diversity Office in March 2011. The parties engaged in an
alternative dispute resolution proceeding the next month, but
were unable to resolve the matter. In May 2011, Knight
submitted a formal complaint to the Agency, alleging
discrimination based on race through " unfair hiring,
firing, promotion, awards, performance appraisal and
disciplinary procedures." Id. Ex. 21. He cited
four incidents in support of his claim:
(1) Ms. Lori Gorczyca continued to monitor his time and
attendance (when he went on break, went to lunch, left the