United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS United States District Judge
Vidya Sagar, proceeding pro se, was terminated from
his position at the Department of Treasury during his
one-year period of probationary employment. He now sues that
Department for violations of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”); violations of the
federal Whistleblower Protection Act (“WPA”); and
violations of ethical rules and agency regulations, which he
asks this Court to enforce under the general judicial review
provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act
(“APA”). On the Department's motion, the
Court will dismiss Sagar's WPA claim and the APA claims
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, leaving only
Sagar's claims under the ADEA. Sagar's cross-motion
for partial summary judgment on the APA claims, accordingly,
will be denied.
purposes of the Department's motion to dismiss, the
following allegations in Sagar's complaint are taken as
true. See, e.g., Hishon v. King &
Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984).
December 20, 2010, Sagar began a one-year probationary term
as an “IT Specialist” at the Department of the
Treasury. Compl. ¶ 7; see Dkt. 41 at 25 (Compl.
Ex. 2). He was sixty-three years old at the time.
See Compl. ¶ 54. This position carried a Grade
15 on the federal government's General Schedule
(“GS-15”) and came with a salary in excess of
$123, 000. Id. ¶ 7. Sagar holds a Ph.D. and
brought a wealth of experience to his new job, including
“extensive experience in information technology”
with the consulting divisions of PeopleSoft and Oracle.
Id. ¶¶ 4-5. In these positions, he
consulted with more than a dozen prominent corporations,
including CitiGroup, MetLife, and JPMorgan Chase.
Id. ¶ 5.
joining Treasury, Sagar worked on the Premium Assistance Tax
Credit project (“PTC”), a part of the wider
effort to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act. Id. ¶ 8. Sagar had a number of
managers in this role but did not manage anyone himself.
Id. ¶¶ 9-10. He alleges that he
“took initiative” in creating a “strategic
team at PTC.” Id. ¶ 16. He also alleges
that during his time on the PTC project, he worked on several
significant assignments, helped develop new members to the
team, saved the project money with his ideas, and received
positive feedback from managers. Id. ¶¶
was particularly dissatisfied with at least two of his
managers-Matthew Brady and Peter Gianokos. Id.
¶¶ 10, 12, 36-42. He alleges that both men were
“age conscious” and “made comments about
Sagar's age on multiple occasions.” Id.
¶ 43. These comments included questions about how long
Sagar had been employed, questions about his exact age,
comments about how old he looked, and discussions about
retirement (although Sagar seems to allege that only some of
these comments or questions came directly from Brady and
Gianokos and others came from fellow employees acting as
their “surrogates”). Id. ¶¶
43-47. Sagar also alleges that his managers “[w]asted
time [with] futile activities, ” such as spending
eight-to-ten weeks training new employees. Id.
received a poor annual review from Brady in September 2011,
and he met with Gianokos to discuss the review the following
week. Id. ¶ 62. Gianokos said he would not
overrule Brady. Id. Sagar asked if a higher level
official could review the decision, but Brady and Gianokos
declined. Id. ¶ 63. On October 27, 2011, Brady
and Gianokos told Sagar that they were firing him for
“performance and behavior issues” and gave him an
unsigned letter explaining the decision. Id. ¶
67; see Dkt. 41 at 23 (Compl. Ex. 1). On November 2,
2011, Gianokos gave Sagar a copy of a more-detailed
termination letter, which was also dated October 27, 2011.
Compl. ¶ 70. That letter described five instances in
which Sagar had “failed to meet the expectations of
[his] position and/or displayed unprofessional
behavior.” Dkt. 41 at 25 (Compl. Ex. 2). It further
explained that Sagar had been “counseled regarding
the[se] deficiencies” but that “there ha[d] been
no improvement.” Compl. ¶ 70. Sagar alleges that
Brady was planning to fire him even before he joined the PTC
team and that he violated Department ethical rules and
principles in the process. Id. ¶¶ 56-58.
Sagar was later replaced by a younger employee who was then
forty-seven years old, and whom Sagar says was not qualified
for a GS-15 position. Id. ¶ 52.
challenged his termination with Treasury's Equal
Employment Opportunity office. Id. ¶ 82. He
alleges that, at some point during this process, the
Department admitted that Sagar had stated a “prima
facie case of age discrimination” because a younger
GS-15 in his office was not fired and because Sagar had been
replaced by a younger employee. Id. ¶ 85. Sagar
alleges that he properly exhausted his age discrimination
claim before filing suit. Id. ¶ 88.
then filed suit in this Court. The complaint includes a
purportedly non-exhaustive list of “bas[e]s” for
the lawsuit. See Compl. ¶ 90. Based on that
list, the entirety of the complaint, and Sagar's
descriptions of the complaint in his opposition brief, Dkt.
56 at 1, the Court construes Sagar's claims as follows:
One alleges “[a]ge discrimination” in violation
of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. Counts
Two and Three allege that Treasury violated ethical rules and
regulations related to Sagar's termination, which Sagar
seeks to challenge under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5
U.S.C. § 701 et seq. Count Four alleges
“[r]etaliation/reprisal, ” which the Court
construes as an ADEA retaliation claim under 29 U.S.C. §
623(d). Count Five alleges “[w]histleblowing” in
violation of the federal Whistleblower Protection Act, 5
U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8). Finally, Count Six alleges
“[h]arassment.” The Court will construe this as
an ADEA hostile work environment claim. See Dediol v.
Best Chevrolet, Inc., 655 F.3d 435, 440-41 (5th Cir.
2011); Ware v. Hyatt Corp., 80 F.Supp.3d 218, 226-27
& n.5 (D.D.C. 2015).
pending before the Court are the Department's motion to
dismiss, Dkt. 55, and Sagar's cross-motion for partial
summary judgment as to Counts Two and Three, Dkt. 64.