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Barot v. The Embassy of Republic of Zambia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 8, 2017

DOLORES BAROT Plaintiff,
v.
THE EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Dolores Barot brought this action against the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia alleging that when defendant terminated her employment, it discriminated and retaliated against her 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 ("ADEA"). Compl. [Dkt. # 1] at 4. Plaintiff later amended her complaint to include an allegation that defendant also violated the District of Columbia Wage Payment and Collection Law, D.C. Code § 32-1301, et seq ("DCWPCL"), when it failed to pay her wages she was owed after her termination. 1st Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 17-1] ¶¶ 63-65; 2d Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 60] ¶¶ 87-90. In its answer, defendant asserted statute of limitations as an affirmative defense to the wage claim. Am. Answer [Dkt. # 63] ¶ 94.

         Plaintiff has moved for partial summary judgment on the DCWPCL claim (Count IV), arguing that defendant owes her wages and that her claim is timely. Mot. for Partial Summ. J. [Dkt. # 75] ("Pl.'s Mot."); Mem. in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-2] ("Pl.'s Mem."). Defendant filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment, contending that plaintiffs claim is time-barred and that no equitable remedy tolls the three-year statute of limitations. Def's Cross-Mot. for Partial Summ. J. [Dkt. # 78] ("Def.'s Cross-Mot."); Def.'s Mem. in Opp. to Pl.'s Mot. & in Supp. of Def.'s Cross-Mot. [Dkt. # 77] ("Def.'s Cross-Mem.").

         The Court finds that plaintiffs DCWPCL claim is time-barred, and it will grant summary judgment on Count IV in favor of defendant. Defendant's other pending motion for summary judgment on Counts I, II, and III remains under advisement, and it will be addressed in a separate opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.[1]

         . Plaintiff began working for defendant as a secretary in January 1998. Pl.'s SOF ¶¶ 1, 6; Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 1, 6.

         . Over time, she took on duties she described as "accounting" duties, Ex. A to Def.'s Cross-Mot. [Dkt. # 77-2] ("Barot Dep") at 314:17-317:12, and she requested an increase in her salary to reflect those additional duties on September 8, 2009. 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 37.

         . On September 10, 2009, defendant placed plaintiff on administrative leave, during which she was paid fifty-percent of her regular salary. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 21; Def.'s SOF ¶ 21

         . In a letter dated November 5, 2009, defendant informed plaintiff that she had "been terminated with effect from 31st October 2009, " and that she would be "paid one month's salary in lieu of notice." See Pl.'s SOF ¶¶ 5, 26; Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 5, 26.

         . Notwithstanding the date of the letter, defendant mailed it to plaintiff on November 23, 2009, Pl.'s SOF ¶ 27; Def.'s SOF ¶ 27; see Ex. 11 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4] ("Ex. 11"), and she received it the next day, on November 24, 2009. Ex. L to Def.'s Cross-Mot [Dkt. # 77-2] ("Ex. L").

         . Defendant notified the United States Department of State that it had terminated plaintiff with a "termination date" of November 30, 2009. Ex. 12 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4] ("Ex. 12").

         . On November 30, 2009, Frank Mbewe - defendant's First Secretary of Accounts, to whom plaintiff reported - submitted a request to Minister Counselor Alfred Chioza for approval of "final payments" to be made to plaintiff. Pl.'s SOF ¶¶ 7, 16, 29; Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 7, 16, 29; Ex. 13 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. #75-4].

         . On December 2, 2009, plaintiff sent a letter to defendant requesting full payment of the money she believed she was owed and stating that she had consulted with an attorney. Ex. L.

         . Mr. Chioza approved the final payment amounts in Mr. Mbewe's letter on December 4, 2009. Def.'s SOF ¶ 32; Pl.'s Resp. SOF ¶ 32.

         . Plaintiff requested payment again on December 4, 2009. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 30; Def.'s SOF ¶ 30; Ex. 14 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4] ("Ex. 14").

         . On December 7, 2009, plaintiff received $6, 155.00 from defendant. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 32; Def.'s SOF ¶ 32.[2] That same day, plaintiff informed Mr. Mbewe that she believed she had been underpaid. Def.'s SOF ¶ 32; Pl.'s Resp. SOF ¶ 32.

         . On December 9, 2009, plaintiff sent a letter to Mr. Chioza, reiterating that she had been underpaid. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 33; Def.'s SOF ¶ 33; Ex. 15 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4].

         . On December 15, 2009, Mr. Mbewe emailed plaintiff a calculation of "Final Payments of Leave Days and Salary in Lieu of Notice." Def.'s SOF ¶ 34; Pl.'s Resp. SOF ¶ 34; Ex. FF to Def.'s Cross-Mot. [Dkt. # 77-3] ("Ex. FF"). He stated that the computations would be submitted to Mr. Chioza as "final, " and that "the case can be declared as closed thereafter" unless plaintiff had any other objections. Def.'s SOF ¶ 34; Pl.'s Resp. SOF ¶ 34; Ex. FF.

         . The next day, December 16, 2009, plaintiff responded to Mr. Mbewe, confirming that she did "not dispute this at all." Ex. GG to Def 's Cross-Mot. [Dkt. # 77-3].[3]

         . Notwithstanding this exchange, plaintiff states that Mr. Mbewe informed her on December 23, 2009, that First Secretary of Political and Administration, Chembo Felix Mbula, would be reviewing her underpayment claim. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 34; Decl. of Dolores Barot, Ex. 4 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4] ("Barot Decl.") ¶ 17.

         . Thereafter, on January 10 and January 24, 2010, plaintiff contacted Mr. Mbula to request that she be paid the money she believed she was owed. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 35; Def's SOF ¶ 35; Ex. 16 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4]; Ex. 17 to Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 75-4].

         . On February 1, 2010, plaintiff received $1, 155.00 from defendant. Pl.'s SOF ΒΆ ...


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