United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION [Dkt. # 64]
RICHARD J. LEON United States District Judge
Salagh Massey ("plaintiff or "Massey") brings
this civil action against the Secretary of State
("defendant"). Massey, who was employed as an
Arabic Language and Culture Instructor and Developer at the
Department of State's Foreign Service Institute
("FSI"), alleges that the defendant, through the
actions of her supervisors at the FSI, subjected her to a
hostile work environment, discriminated against her on the
basis of her religion and national origin, and retaliated
against her for engaging in protected activity, all in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42
U.S.C. § 2000e. Currently before the Court is
defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. # 64]. Upon
consideration of the pleadings, the entire record in this
case, and relevant law, the Court GRANTS summary judgment in
favor of defendant.
Loubna Massey was born and raised in Morocco, but moved to
the United States in 2003. Def.'s Statement of Facts
("SOF") ¶ 1 [Dkt. # 64-1]; Pl.'s Statement
of Facts ("SOF") ¶ 1 [67-1]; Massey Dep. at
13:11-16 [Dkt. # 67-3]. Massey was born into a Muslim family,
but converted to Christianity in 2004. Def.'s SOF
¶¶ 1, 6; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 4; Massey Dep. at
2008, Massey began work as a contract Arabic Language and
Culture Instructor at the State Department's Foreign
Service Institute. Def.'s SOF ¶ 9; Pl.'s SOF
¶ 5; Massey Dep. at 17:24-25. During that time, Dr.
James Bernhardt ("Bernhardt") was the division
director of the Near East, Central, and South Asian Languages
division. As a result, he oversaw FSI's Arabic Section
and was Massey's second-line supervisor. Def.'s SOF
10; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 7; Bernhardt Dep. at 10:16-11:5.
During her tenure at FSI, Massey was directly supervised by
Dr. Tagelsir Elrayah ("Elrayah"), a Language
Training Supervisor in the Arabic Section. Def.'s SOF
¶ 12; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 10; ElrayahDep. at
12:3-12:15; 18:14-20 [Dkt. # 64-3]. Beginning in March 2010,
Massey was also directly supervised by Maha Bohsali, another
FSI Language Training Supervisor. Bohsali Dep. at 11:5-8;
17:11-18:10 [Dkt. # 67-3]
FSI Arabic instructor, Massey was assigned "a tour of
duty, " or schedule that she was expected to adhere to.
FSI Instructors' Guide at 2137 ("No matter which
tour of duty you work, you are expected to be present for the
entire period. . . .") [Dkt. # 64-4]. Massey's tour
of duty was from 8:45 AM to 5:30 PM. Massey Dep. at 36:5-14.
During the period at issue, language instructors were
required to physically sign in and out and record their
arrival and departure times. Bernhardt Dep. at 59:19-60:19.
In September 2010, Mohamed Sheriff, an FSI assistant, told
Bohsali that Massey arrived to work late and recorded an
incorrect time on her sign-in sheet. Bohsali Dep. at 76:4-16.
Bohsali consulted with Elrayah and Bernhardt, and they
decided draw a line on the sign-in sheet at 9:00 AM on
September 10, so that they would know if anyone signed in
after 9:00 AM. Bohsali Dep. at 77:8-14 [Dkt. 65-4]. On that
day, Massey signed in below the line. 09/10/10 Sign-In Sheet
[Dkt. # 64-5]. As a result, Bohsali asked the IT department
to determine when she signed in to her computer, and learned
that Massey did not log in until 10:06 AM. Bohsali Dep. at
78:20-79:1. Bohsali also discovered that the sign-in times
listed on Massey's invoices did not match her arrival
times on her sign-in sheets. See, e.g., 07/07/10
Sign-In Time (9:00 AM) and Invoice (8:45 AM); 07/16/10
Sign-In Time (9:00 AM) and Invoice (8:45 AM) and Invoice
(8:45 AM); 07/21/10 Sign-In Time (8:56 AM) and Invoice (8:45
AM) [Dkt. # 64-5].
presented with this information and a request to terminate
her contract, Steve Rogers, FSI's Director of
Acquisitions and Contracting Officer, confronted Massey about
the issues regarding the sign-in sheets and invoices and
terminated her contract. Rogers Decl.¶¶ 10-13 [Dkt.
#64-9]. Massey received a termination letter that offered two
reasons for her termination: "falsifying [her]
timesheet[s] [and] invoice submission[s]" and "not
adhering to her set work schedule." 09/14/10 Termination
Letter [Dkt. # 67-5]
this same period, Massey applied for two direct-hire
positions at the FSI, but was not selected for either
position. In August 2010, Massey applied for a direct hire
position as an Arabic Instructor at a GG-11 level. VA 418 Job
Posting [Dkt. # 64-6]. Massey was included on the certificate
of eligible candidates for the position. VA 418 Certificate
of Eligibles [Dkt. # 64-6]. However, Dr. Bernhardt, with
recommendations from Elrayah and Bohsali, decided to hire six
other candidates for the position. Bernhardt Dep. at
16:2-19:10; 25:2-13, 29:1-33:17; 32:9-33:7. In December 2010,
Massey applied for another direct-hire position as a
Supervisory Language Training Specialist at a GG-13 level. VA
015 Job Posting [Dkt. # 64-7]. Massey was invited to
interview for the position, but she ultimately declined to
attend her interview and was not selected. 12/10/10 Email to
L. Massey [Dkt. 64-7]; 12/16/10 Email to Bernhardt [Dkt. #
2009, prior to the events in this case, Massey provided an
affidavit in connection with the investigation of an EEO
complaint brought against Elrayah by another instructor, in
which she stated that another employee told her about
misconduct by Elrayah, but that she had not personally
witnessed any wrongdoing. See Massey
Bashrawi EEO Decl. [Dkt. # 64-8].
filed this action in 2012, alleging that the State
Department, acting through her supervisors at FSI,
discriminated against her on the basis of her religion and
national origin, retaliated against her for testifying in an
EEO investigation, and subjected her to a hostile work place
judgment should be granted when "there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
summary judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.. Civ. P.
56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists
only where "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The party moving for summary judgment has the burden
of showing that there is no dispute of fact, but the
non-moving party "may not rest upon mere allegations or
denials of his pleading, but must [instead] set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial. Id. at 256.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court does not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence, as
that is properly the province of the factfinder at trial.
Czekalski v. Peters, 475 F.3d 360, 363 (D.C. Cir.
2007). Instead, the Court must accept as true the evidence of
the non-moving party, and draw "all justifiable
inferences" in favor of that party. Anderson,
477 U.S. at 255. However, to the extent that the non-moving
party will bear the burden of proving facts at trial, those
facts must be supported by competent evidence, and the
absence of that evidence forms the basis for summary
judgment. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-24. The
non-moving party must establish more than "the existence
of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position,
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, and the Court will not
accept "conclusory allegations lacking any factual basis
in the record." Dist. Mown Props. Ltd. P'ship v.
District, of Columbia, 198 F.3d 874, 878 (D.C. Cir.
1999). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50. Thus,
the Court must decide "whether a fair-minded jury could
return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence
presented." Hunter-Boykin v. George Washington
Univ., 132 F.3d 77, 79 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
brings discrimination, retaliation, and hostile workplace
claims under Title VII. With respect to discrimination, Title
VII makes it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse
to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to
discriminate against any individual . . . because of such
individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin." 42U.S.C. § 2000e-2. For retaliation
claims, Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating
"against any individual.. . because [she] has opposed
any practice made an unlawful employment practice by [Title
VII], or because [she] has made a charge, ...