United States District Court, District of Columbia
P. Mehta United States District Judge.
Gregory Taborn filed this lawsuit under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 against his former employer,
Defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(“WMATA”). This case stems from an incident that
occurred on October 5, 2013, when Plaintiff, a bus operator,
became involved in a verbal altercation with a number of
WMATA managers and supervisors over his apparent failure to
turn on the interior lights of his assigned bus. Defendant
argues that Plaintiff was terminated as a result of his
conduct during that altercation, which violated a number of
workplace rules. Plaintiff, on the other hand, contends that
he was fired for an entirely different reason: because months
earlier, he had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission alleging that WMATA had not promoted
him because of his age, race, and gender.
court now considers Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. Having reviewed the parties' briefing and the
evidence, the court finds that no reasonable jury could
conclude that WMATA unlawfully retaliated against Plaintiff.
Plaintiff has produced no evidence showing that the official
who fired him actually knew about his prior complaint;
therefore, she could not have retaliated against him. The
court therefore grants Defendant's Motion for Summary
Gregory Taborn began working as a bus operator for WMATA in
December 1994. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 14
[hereinafter Def.'s Mot.]; Def.'s Stmt. of Material
Facts, ECF No. 14 [hereinafter Def.'s Stmt.], ¶ 1;
Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No.
15 [hereinafter Pl.'s Opp'n]; Pl.'s Stmt. of
Material Facts in Dispute, ECF No. 15 [hereinafter Pl.'s
Stmt.], ¶ 1. On July 30, 2013, Plaintiff filed a
complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) alleging that WMATA had failed to
promote him because of his age, race, and gender (the
“July EEOC Complaint”). Def.'s Stmt. ¶
2; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 2.
two months later, on October 5, 2013, Plaintiff had a verbal
confrontation with multiple WMATA managers and supervisors.
The details of the confrontation are immaterial. It suffices
to say for present purposes that the confrontation arose when
WMATA employees accused Plaintiff of failing to turn on the
interior lights of the bus that he was driving. Def.'s
Stmt. ¶ 4; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 4.
October 22, 2013, WMATA Acting Bus Superintendent, Jessica
Pitt, terminated Plaintiff's employment because of the
October 5th incident. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 5; Pl.'s
Stmt. ¶ 5. Pitt determined that Plaintiff's conduct
had violated numerous workplace rules. Among other
violations, she concluded that he had failed to
“perform [his] duties as expected of a professional bus
operator”; had “compromised safety”; and
had “displayed unprofessional conduct in the presence
of customers as well as managers.” Def.'s Mot., Ex.
2, Memorandum of Dismissal from Acting Superintendent Jessica
Pitt to Gregory Taborn, ECF No. 14-2 [hereinafter Memo of
Dismissal], at 7. Although Plaintiff defended himself by
asserting that the antagonism and “bullying tone”
of the WMATA managers who were involved-rather than his own
behavior- had instigated the confrontation, see
Pl.'s Opp'n., Ex. 4, October 9, 2013, Letter from
Gregory Taborn to Ted Harris, ECF No. 15-4 [hereinafter
Taborn Letter], Pitt nevertheless dismissed him. Memo of
Dismissal at 7; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 5; Pl.'s Stmt.
¶ 7. Two days after his termination, Plaintiff filed a
second complaint with the EEOC (the “October EEOC
Complaint”), this time claiming he was fired in
retaliation for filing the July EEOC Complaint. Def.'s
Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 7.
point, Plaintiff filed a grievance with his union
representative, which resulted in an arbitration proceeding.
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 11; see also Pl.'s
Opp'n, Ex. 2, June 12, 2015 Opinion by Arbitrator Andrew
M. Strongin, ECF No. 15-2 [hereinafter Arbitration Opinion].
The Arbitrator concluded that Plaintiff's behavior
constituted “serious insubordination” and was
“unacceptable.” Arbitration Opinion at 15. He
also found, however, that the WMATA managers involved in the
incident had “instigated and [had] provoked”
Plaintiff and had themselves failed to follow certain WMATA
policies. Id. at 18. As a result, the Arbitrator
reduced Plaintiff's discipline from termination to a
30-day suspension without pay. Id. at 20.
Nevertheless, Plaintiff has yet to return to work at WMATA.
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 13.
23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint in D.C.
Superior Court. See Compl., ECF No. 1-4. The
Complaint alleged a single claim: that Plaintiff “was
terminated because he engaged in protected activity when he
filed an EEOC Complaint alleging age, gender, color and race
discrimination on July 30.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 5.
Defendant then removed the case to this court on August 13,
2014. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that a court should grant
summary judgment if “there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and [the moving party] is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(a)).
A material fact is one that is capable of affecting ...