United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. Mehta, United States District Judge
Darrie Holmes filed this lawsuit against her former employer,
Defendant Branch Banking and Trust Company, alleging
discriminatory treatment in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29
U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Plaintiff asserts that
Defendant discriminated against her by terminating her
employment on the basis of her gender and by failing to
provide her equal compensation in comparison to younger, male
employees. In response, Defendant claims that it fired
Plaintiff, not based on her gender, but because she engaged
in conduct that violated bank policies and that her salary
was not discriminatory.
matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. Having reviewed the pleadings and evidence,
the court finds that no reasonable factfinder could conclude
(1) Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff when it
terminated her employment or (2) it discriminated against her
by paying her a lower salary on account of her age. However,
the court finds that a reasonable jury could find in
Plaintiff's favor on her gender-based wage discrimination
claim. Accordingly, the court grants in part and denies in
part Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
November 2004, Defendant Branch Banking and Trust Company
(“BB&T”) hired Plaintiff to work as a Teller
in its Metro Center branch in Washington, D.C., at a monthly
salary of $1, 213.34. Def.'s Stmt. of Material Facts,
ECF. No. 22 [hereinafter Def.'s Stmt], ¶ 17;
Pl.'s Stmt. of Material Facts, ECF. No. 25 [hereinafter
Pl.'s Stmt.], ¶ 17; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J.,
ECF No. 22 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.], Ex. 3, ECF No. 22-3
[hereinafter Bayly Decl.], at 23. Upon accepting employment
with Defendant, Plaintiff acknowledged that she understood,
and certified that she would follow throughout the course of
her employment, Defendant's policies, including its Code
of Ethics. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 19; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶
February 2006, Defendant promoted Plaintiff from the position
of Teller to the position of Relationship Banker I and
increased her monthly salary to $1, 296.66. Def.'s Stmt.
¶ 21; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 21; Bayly Decl. at 23.
Relationship Bankers are primarily responsible for
interfacing with both new and existing clients, opening and
closing client accounts, and managing client safe deposit
boxes. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 5; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 5.
In addition to providing those client services, Relationship
Bankers are also expected to make daily “cold
calls” to both current and prospective clients in an
effort to generate new client accounts. Def.'s Stmt.
¶ 7; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 7. Defendant awards
incentive points for each new client account opened and takes
into account the points accumulated when evaluating the
employee's performance. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 8;
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 8.
her promotion, Plaintiff received training on her new job
duties, as well as Defendant's policies and procedures
governing the opening and servicing of client accounts.
Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 22-23; Pl.'s Stmt.
¶¶ 22-23. Those procedures included the Client
Identification Program (“CIP”), which requires,
among other things, that to open an account a Relationship
Banker must obtain and submit certain client identification
and authorization documentation, including a client signature
card. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 11-14, 16; Pl.'s
Stmt. ¶¶ 11-14, 16. At all times during her
employment, Plaintiff understood that she was required to
obtain such authorization documentation before opening a new
account and that opening an account without client consent
constituted grounds for termination. Def.'s Stmt.
¶¶ 24-25; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 24-25.
2006, Plaintiff was again promoted, this time to the position
of Relationship Banker II, and received a salary increase to
$1, 361.45 per month. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 26; Pl.'s
Stmt. ¶ 26. Relationship Banker Is and IIs share the
same job responsibilities, but Relationship Banker IIs are
typically paid a higher salary and are expected to generate a
higher volume of new client accounts than Relationship Banker
Is. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 6; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 6.
During her time as a Relationship Banker II, Plaintiff was
responsible for training newly hired Relationship Banker Is
at the Metro Center Branch. One of her trainees was David
Arriola-a 26 year-old man-who was hired in June 2006 at a
monthly salary of $1, 500.00. Pl.'s Counter-Stmt. of
Material Facts, ECF. No. 22, ¶¶ 28, 33; Bayly Decl.
August 2006, three months after her promotion, Plaintiff was
disciplined for violating both the CIP Policy and the
BB&T Code of Ethics because she had failed to obtain the
identification documents necessary to verify a client's
identity at account opening. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 27;
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 27; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 5, ECF.
No. 25-5, at 21. Despite this violation, Plaintiff received
another raise in November 2006, which increased her salary to
$1, 436.45 per month. Bayly Decl. at 23.
2007, Defendant hired Richard Patterson as Financial Center
Leader at the Metro Center Branch. Def.'s Stmt. ¶
31; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 31. As the new Financial Center
Leader, Patterson reported directly to Ouattra Daouda, the
Sales and Service Leader; Daouda reported to Maria Salter,
the Retail Banking Manager. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶
32-33; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 32-33. Plaintiff reported
directly to Patterson. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 18; Pl.'s
Stmt. ¶ 18; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 8, ECF No. 22-8, at 2.
Plaintiff and Patterson incidentally knew each other from
Relationship Banker training and had maintained a friendly
relationship after that training. Def.'s Stmt.
¶¶ 34-36; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 34-36.
Plaintiff asserts, however, that Patterson became
increasingly abusive towards her and other branch employees
in the months after becoming supervisor. Def.'s Stmt.
¶¶ 76-80, 82-83; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶
76-80, 82-83. Patterson nevertheless gave Plaintiff a highly
favorable performance review in October 2007, and increased
her monthly salary to $1, 666.66-an approximately 16 percent
raise-in November 2007. Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 38-39;
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 38-39; Bayly Decl. at 23.
after authorizing that raise, Patterson received a complaint
from one of Plaintiff's clients-K.K.-alleging that
Plaintiff had opened an account in his name after he had
expressly told her not to do so. Def.'s Stmt. ¶
Patterson immediately contacted the Regional Associate
Relations Manager, Terrence Bayly, who instructed Patterson
to verify and investigate K.K.'s complaint. Def.'s
Stmt. ¶¶ 43-44; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶43-44.
Patterson then obtained a list of all accountholders for whom
Plaintiff had opened an account and for which a signature
card was missing. Patterson contacted the accountholders and,
upon doing so, discovered an additional six customers that
had not authorized the opening of a new account. Def.'s
Stmt. ¶¶ 45-47. Patterson obtained statements via
email from each of those six clients verifying that he or she
had not authorized the account opening. Def.'s Stmt.
¶¶ 48-50. None of those clients, however,
identified Plaintiff by name. See Bayly Decl. at
28-39. One client, C.C., did report that the same
“young lady” who had contacted her about opening
a new account, and whom she had instructed not to open an
account, also happened to be the person to whom she spoke to
close the account. Id. at 33. C.C. recalled that,
upon requesting to close the account, the bank employee
“recommended that I keep the account open and advised
that it wouldn't cost me anything.” Id.
concluded that Plaintiff had opened the customer accounts in
question without client consent. He reached that conclusion
based on BB&T's internal records, which identified
Plaintiff, through her employee identification number, as the
bank employee associated with the accounts in question.
Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 48-50; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 6,
ECF No. 22-6 (records pertaining to customer accounts with
missing signature cards); see also Bayly Decl. at
43-44 (summary bank record, generated for purposes of
discovery, showing Plaintiff's employee
number-“43010”- associated with client accounts
the investigation concluded on January 25, 2008, Plaintiff
met with Patterson, Bayly, Daouda, and Salter to discuss the
allegations lodged against her. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 54;
Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 54. Plaintiff steadfastly denied
opening any client accounts without authorization. Def.'s
Stmt. ¶ 55; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 55. After that
meeting, Patterson, Bayly, Daouda, and Salter met again and
decided to terminate Plaintiff for violating the BB&T
Code of Ethics by opening client accounts without consent.
Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 60. Defendant officially terminated
Plaintiff's employment that same day. Id.
timely filed suit in this court on August 11, 2014, alleging
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29
U.S.C. § 621 et seq. See Compl., ECF No. 1,
¶ 38. The crux of Plaintiff's claims is that
Defendant (1) terminated her employment because of her gender
(Count Two) and (2) provided her unequal compensation because
of both her age and gender (Counts One and Four).
discovery, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,
arguing that it had not discriminated against Plaintiff when
setting her salary and had fired her for a legitimate
non-discriminatory reason-she had opened several accounts
without client permission in violation of bank policies and
procedures. See Def.'s Mot. at 28-29. Plaintiff
opposed Defendant's Motion, claiming that its proffered
non-discriminatory reasons for both compensating her
unequally and firing her were pretext for discrimination.
See generally Pl.'s Opp'n.