United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge.
Marnie Hammel filed suit against Marsh USA Inc.
("Marsh") and Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.
("MMC"), alleging violations of the District of
Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), DC. Code Ann.
§§2-1401.01 et seq., Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., and the Pregnancy Discrimination
arising out of Plaintiffs employment as a FINPRO Claims
Advocate in Washington, D.C. Plaintiff alleges that her
former employer, Defendant Marsh, discriminated against her
on the basis of her sex, sexual orientation, marital status,
parental status, and pregnancy, and retaliated against her
for reporting harassment. Presently before the Court is
Defendants'  Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon
consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant legal
authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court shall
GRANT-IN-PART and DENY-IN-PART Defendants'  Motion
for Summary Judgment.
Marnie Hammel, an attorney licensed to practice law in
Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, worked for
Marsh for approximately five years, from May
2007 to July 2012. See Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶
22, 111. For the entirety of her employment with Marsh,
Plaintiff worked as a Claims Advocate in Marsh's
Financial Products and Liability Practice
("FINPRO") group, which "advises client[s] on
financial and professional exposures or management liability
exposures." See Id. ¶¶ 3, 19, 80,
111; see or/so PL's Opp'n, ECF No. , at 2-3.
Marsh's Claims Advocacy Practice is a division of FINPRO
that analyzes a client's exposures, assists clients in
policy drafting, interacts with insurance carriers on behalf
of clients involved in litigation, obtains insurance coverage
and payments for clients, and consults with clients on issues
that arise in the course of a complex claim negotiation
and/or settlement. -See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 6; PL's
Resp. Stmt. ¶ 6. The Claims Advocacy Practice is a
national practice, with employees located in certain Marsh
offices across the United States from New York to San
Francisco, which, during the time relevant to the claims in
this suit, comprised approximately 12-14 full-time employees.
-See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 7; PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶
Plaintiff Works in Marsh's Chicago Office from 2007
early 2007, Plaintiff interviewed with several Marsh Managing
Directors in Chicago and New York, including: Andrea
Lieberman, at the time, the only FINPRO Claims Advocate in
Chicago, David Nikolai, the Chicago FINPRO Practice Leader,
and Lou Ann Layton, the head of the national FINPRO Practice.
See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 12. Plaintiff was
subsequently offered a position in the Claims Advocacy
Practice in Marsh's Chicago office as a Vice President
("VP"). Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 14, 19. On
April 4, 2007, Plaintiff signed a written job offer from
Marsh for a Claims Advocate position, reporting to Ms.
Lieberman. Id. ¶ 19. The offer letter specified
that Ms. Hammel would have the officer title of VP and
confirmed her annual base salary of $125, 000, which was the
amount that Ms. Hammel had negotiated with Marsh as part of
the interview process. Id. ¶¶ 14, 19; .see
also PL's Offer Letter, Defs.'Ex. 11, ECF No. [37-3].
The offer letter also indicated that her compensation would
be "considered for adjustment in succeeding years as
part of our normal performance appraisal process."
PL's Offer Letter, Defs.' Ex. 11, ECF No. [37-3].
Hammel worked in Marsh's Chicago Office reporting to
Managing Director Andrea Lieberman from May 14, 2007 until
March 30, 2009, when she officially transferred to
Marsh's Washington, D.C. office. See Defs.'
Stmt. ¶ 22; Hammel Dep. Tr, Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No.
[37-3], at 39:3-15. During that time, Ms. Lieberman was a
direct, outspoken, and demanding boss. -See Defs.' Stmt.
¶ 23; PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 23; Hammel Dep. Tr.,
Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at 62:22-67:21, 152:8-12.
Plaintiff alleges, however, that Ms. Lieberman demanded more
of Plaintiff in particular and that Ms. Lieberman was
respectful and caring towards her other subordinates, but
frequently disparaging of Ms. Hammel in public and in
humiliating ways. See PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶
23; Hammel Dep. Tr, Defs.'Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at
cites several incidents in July 2007 and November 2007 where
Ms. Lieberman allegedly demanded that Ms. Hammel "suck
it up and come into work" on days when Ms. Hammel had
been sick with various illnesses, including a foot infection
and bronchitis. See Hammel Diary (Nov. 12, 2007),
Defs.'Ex. 4B, ECF No. [37-3]. Plaintiff alleges that
throughout her illnesses, Ms. Lieberman would call her
multiple times a day, leaving voice mails and scheduling Ms.
Hammel for client meetings and calls when she knew Ms. Hammel
was too ill to work. See Hammel Dep. Tr, Defs.'
Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at 58:3-18. After these incidents,
Plaintiff informed David Nikolai, the Chicago FINPRO Practice
Leader, who allegedly said that Ms. Lieberman was a Managing
Director and that there was nothing he could do. Id.
at 58:19-59:1. Upon learning that Plaintiff had brought the
matter to Mr. Nikolai's attention, Ms. Lieberman
allegedly called Plaintiff into her office, looked Plaintiff
in the eye, and said that Plaintiff had "some fucking
nerve complaining about a managing director in this company,
" and that she put her hands on her desk, stood up, and
yelled, "I'm your manager and I can be a bitch if I
want to." See PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶¶
25, 27; see also Hammel Dep. Tr., Defs.' Ex. 4,
ECF No. [37-3], at 82:20-83:13.
addition, Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Lieberman told Ms.
Hammel, in front of other colleagues, that she was all
"smoke and mirrors, " that Ms. Lieberman was
"surprised at how little" Ms. Hammel knew, and that
it was Ms. Lieberman's "job to put [Ms. Hammel] in
her place" and "cut her down to size." Hammel
Dep. Tr, Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at 79:15-80:05.
Plaintiff also alleges that Ms. Lieberman expressed disbelief
that Ms. Hammel had any friends and that Ms. Lieberman
chastised co-workers for befriending Ms. Hammel. Id.
at 61:04-22, 69:19-70:08. Plaintiff also alleges that
throughout her time working under Ms. Lieberman, Ms.
Lieberman heavily scrutinized her work travel and required
her to report to the office unnecessarily before work trips.
Id. at 59:8-61:3. Plaintiff contends that Ms.
Lieberman did not raise her voice, use foul language, or
impose comparable expectations regarding leave and travel
with respect to other employees. See Id. at
67:22-68:14; see also Hammel Decl., PL's Ex. 2,
ECF No. [42-2].
alleges that Ms. Lieberman specifically targeted Plaintiff
because she is a lesbian and alleges that she did not fit
within Ms. Lieberman's conception of a female subordinate
employee. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Lieberman made
disparaging comments and belittling facial gestures when Ms.
Hammel discussed her same-sex partner and that Ms. Lieberman
made comments regarding Ms. Hammel's status as a gay
woman. Id. at 69:07-18. On one occasion, Ms.
Lieberman allegedly referenced Ms. Hammel's sexual
orientation by asking if a friend who was visiting in the
office was gay, and when Ms. Hammel responded that the
individual was not gay, Ms. Lieberman allegedly responded,
"no offense, but why would she be friends with you [Ms.
Hammel] then." Id. at 69:19-70:08. Plaintiff
also alleges that Ms. Lieberman routinely made fun of Ms.
Hammel's style and manner of dress and made comments
regarding Ms. Hammel's athleticism, allegedly stating in
front of clients and co-workers, "that's how you
are, people like you"-which Ms. Hammel interpreted as a
reference to her status as a lesbian. Id. at
78:02-79:07. Plaintiff also alleges that upon her nomination
for a "superstar of the month" award, Ms. Lieberman
asked Plaintiff whether the person who had nominated her for
the award was gay. Id. at 70:09-18.
the course of her time in Marsh's Chicago office,
Plaintiff repeatedly complained of Ms. Lieberman's
conduct to human resources, managers, and colleagues.
Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 27, 39; PL's Resp. Stmt.
¶ 27, 39. For example, Paul Denny, who in January 2008
took over for Mr. Nikolai as Chicago FINPRO Office Head,
testified that Ms. Hammel came to him on at least ten
occasions in 2008 with complaints about Ms. Lieberman. Denny
Dep. Tr., Defs.'Ex. 13, ECF No. [37-3], at 14:7-25.
Plaintiff alleges that upon her complaints to management, Ms.
Hammel's supervisors frequently advised her that they
were aware of the circumstances and that Ms. Hammel should
"let it go." Hammel Dep. Tr., Defs.'Ex. 4, ECF
No. [37-3], at 113:12-14.
December 15, 2008, Ms. Lieberman met with Ms. Hammel,
informed Ms. Hammel that she was aware of Ms. Hammel's
allegations, and questioned Ms. Hammel as to "why she
would make false allegations of illegal conduct to Marsh
N.Y." PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 25h; Lieberman's
12/15/08 notes, PL's Ex. 12, ECF No. [42-9]; Lieberman
Dep. Tr, Defs.'Ex. 2, ECF No. [37-3], at 124:18-126:13.
Ms. Lieberman also contacted Human Resources and expressed
her concern that "there was an employee who made
allegations that were so grossly unsupportable by fact."
Lieberman Dep. Tr, Defs.'Ex. 2, ECF No. [37-3], at
131:3-132:1; PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 25h.
2008, Ms. Hammel requested a transfer from Chicago to
Washington, D.C with the hope of getting a fresh start in a
different office. See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 43;
PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 43; see also Hammel Dep. Tr,
Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at 12:4-10. Plaintiff
alleges that Ms. Lieberman, after learning that Ms. Hammel
had requested a transfer to the Washington, D.C. office,
called Ms. Hammel into her office and told her that "no
one's job at this company is safe, " that "a
lot of people were being fired, " that Ms. Hammel should
"wait and see" as to whether she would keep her
job, and that Ms. Hammel "had some nerve"
requesting a transfer to a different office. See
Hammel Dep. Tr., Defs.'Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at
94:12-95:06. Ultimately, Ms. Hammel's transfer request
was approved by several of FINPRO's seniors managers who
believed that Ms. Hammel and Ms. Lieberman would both benefit
from working in separate offices. See Defs.'
Stmt. ¶ 43; PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 43; Brew Dep.
Tr, Defs.' Ex. 6, ECF No. [37-3], at 76:25-77:6; Layton
Def Tr, Defs.'Ex. 5, ECF No. [37-3], at 44:24-45:04.
Plaintiffs transfer to the Washington, D.C. became effective
March 30, 2009. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 47.
her two years in Marsh's Chicago office, Plaintiff
received one "merit raise"-a salary increase from
$125, 000 to $128, 500 in 2008-but did not receive an
end-of-year bonus or a promotion in either 2008 or 2009. See
Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 76-79; PL's Resp. Stmt.
¶¶ 76-79. Plaintiff, however, did receive $10, 000
in 2009 to cover her moving expenses to Washington, D.C.
See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 79; PL's Resp. Stmt.
Plaintiff Works in Marsh's Washington, D.C. Office
from 2009 to 2012
Plaintiff would have a new supervisor in the Washington, D.C.
office, Plaintiff continued to work with Ms. Lieberman on
projects during Plaintiffs time in the Washington, D.C.
office. See PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶¶25, 47; see
also Hammel Emails, Pl.'sExs. 15, 16, 17, ECF
Nos. [44-3], [44-4], [44-5]. Plaintiff alleges that Ms.
Lieberman would frequently reach out to Ms. Hammel for
assistance on Chicago accounts and then would purposefully
undermine Ms. Hammel's relationships with clients on
those accounts. See PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶47; Hammel
Dep. Tr, Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at 119:11-124:4.
Plaintiff also alleges that Ms. Lieberman attempted to
undermine her career prospects at Marsh and that Plaintiff s
new supervisors told her that Ms. Lieberman and Mr. Nikolai
"had basically poisoned the well" and that it was
"not good to have an enemy in Dave Nikolai." Hammel
Dep. Tr., Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No. [37-3], at 105:04-106:09.
also alleges that Ms. Lieberman attempted to ruin Ms.
Hammel's wedding and related leave in September 2010 when
Ms. Lieberman insisted that Ms. Hammel keep working on a
Chicago account despite a request by the client's
Managing Director to transfer the files back to Ms.
Lieberman. See Hammel Dep. Tr., Defs.'Ex. 4, ECF
No. [37-3], at 157:03-164:03; Mann Emails, PL's Ex. 23,
ECF No. [44-7]. A few weeks later, Ms. Hammel got married to
her fiancee and took leave to go on her honeymoon.
See Hammel Dep. Tr, Defs.' Ex. 4, ECF No.
[37-3], at 157:03-164:03. Upon her return, Ms. Hammel
received a written discipline for insubordination and
refusing to perform work assigned to her. See
Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 67, PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶79.
Following Ms. Hammel's receipt of the written warning in
November 2010, Ms. Hammel contacted Human Resources to
dispute the written warning and to complain of Ms.
Lieberman's treatment of her. See PL's Resp.
Stmt. ¶25j. See also Hammel Emails,
Pl.'sExs. 15, 16, 17, ECFNos. [44-3], [44-4], [44-5].
February 2011, Ms. Hammel became pregnant with twins.
See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 94; PL's Resp. Stmt.
¶ 94. On April 25, 2011, Ms. Hammel notified Human
Resources that she was pregnant. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 93.
During Ms. Hammel's pregnancy, Marsh approved each of the
accommodations requested by Ms. Hammel, including working
from home certain days during her pregnancy and granting her
request for 21 weeks of maternity leave. (October 10, 2011
-February 27, 2012). See Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 94;
PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 94.
Ms. Hammel was on maternity leave, her supervisor, Damien
Brew, lowered Ms. Hammel's prior performance rating of 4
to a rating of 3, or "Meets Expectations."
See PL's Resp. Stmt. ¶ 94; Hammel 2011
Performance Review, PL's Ex. 25, ECF No. [44-8]. On
January 13, 2012, while Ms. Hammel was still on maternity
leave, she received an email from Ms. Lieberman informing Ms.
Hammel that "many people do work from home when they are
out on maternity leave" and that she expected the same
from Ms. Hammel. Lieberman Emails, PL's Ex. 26, ECF No.
[42-17]. Ms. Hammel contacted Mr. Brew and Human Resources
regarding the email, and Mr. Brew clarified that Ms. Hammel
was not required to work while on maternity leave. Brew
Emails, Def'sEx. 34, ECF No. [37-5]. Mr. Brew and another
executive, Paul Denny, were frustrated with Ms.
Lieberman's behavior and agreed that Ms. Lieberman and
Ms. Hammel should be separated. See PL's Resp.
Stmt. ¶97, Brew Emails, Def'sEx. 34, ECF No. [37-5].
In an email from Mr. Brew to Mr. Denny, Mr. Denny commented,
"[i]t is Ms. Lieberman's] one real weakness -
Marnie. I have coached her, I have tried lecturing to her and
nothing gets through. I know it's ridiculous but Andrea
and Marnie should be kept apart as nothing good comes from
them interacting with each other." Brew Emails,
Def'sEx. 34, ECF No. [37-5].
February 2012, Ms. Hammel returned from maternity leave. Mr.
Brew informed her that she had not received a promotion, and
that she would not receive a raise or a bonus. Hammel DecL,
PL's Ex. 2, ECF No. [42-2], at ¶ 14. Later that
spring, Mr. Brew and another executive, Ms. Layton, denied a
request by Ms. Hammel to relocate to Tampa, Florida, stating
that she would be "out of the loop" if she insisted
on moving to Tampa because there was no FINPRO practice in
Tampa. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 104. In June 2012, Ms. Hammel
announced that she was going to resign, and on July 11, 2012,
Ms. Hammel worked her last day for Marsh. Defs.' Stmt.
¶¶ 104-11; PL's Stmt. ¶¶ 104-11.
Ms. Hammel's three years in Marsh's Washington, D.C.
office, Ms. Hammel did not receive a promotion, a raise, or a
bonus. See Hammel Compensation History Report,
PL's Ex. 33, ECF No. [44-12]; see also Hammel
Decl., PL's Ex. 2, ECF No. [42-2], at ¶¶ 11-14;
PL's Stmt. ¶¶ 106.
days after her resignation, on July 17, 2012, Ms. Hammel
filed Charges of Discrimination with both the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the
District of Columbia Office of Human Rights
("DCOHR"), alleging that she was constructively
discharged on June 26, 2012, and asserting discrimination on
the basis of her sex, age,  sexual orientation, maternity,
and retaliation. Defi's Stmt. ¶ 112. Ms. Hammel
filed suit on April 25, 2014, in the Superior Court for the
District of Columbia, alleging twenty claims: 13 claims under
the DCHRA, 5 claims under Title VII, and 2 claims under the
Pregnancy Discrimination Act. See generally CompL,
ECF No. [1-1]. Defendants removed the case to the United
States District Court for the District of Columbia on June 6,
February 10, 2015, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order dismissing Plaintiffs Title VII claims against
Defendant MMC for failure to exhaust administrative remedies
and dismissing Plaintiffs constructive discharge claims to
the extent that they are asserted as independent bases for
liability. See Mem. Opinion and Order (Feb. 10,
2015), ECF Nos. , . Accordingly, the following 18
claims are currently before the Court:
(1) Sex Discrimination - Hostile Working Environment and
Harassment - DCHRA;
(2) Sex Discrimination - Disparate Treatment in Pay and
Promotions - DCHRA;
(3) Sexual Orientation Discrimination - Hostile Working
Environment and Harassment - DCHRA;
(4) Sexual Orientation - Disparate Treatment in Pay and
Promotions - DCHRA;
(5) Retaliation - Hostile Working Environment and Harassment
(6) Retaliation - Disparate Treatment in Pay and Promotions -
(7) Pregnancy Discrimination - Hostile Working Environment
and Harassment -DCHRA;
(8) Pregnancy Discrimination - Disparate Treatment in Pay and
(9) Parental Status - Hostile Working Environment and
Harassment - DCHRA;
(10) Parental Status - Disparate Treatment in Pay and
Promotions - DCHRA;
(11) Marital Status - Hostile Working Environment and