United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHARLOTTE M. RICHARDSON, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH REHABILITATION SERVICES, Defendant.
S. CHUTKAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charlotte M. Richardson brings this action against the
District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation
Services (“DYRS”) alleging sex discrimination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (2000); age discrimination in violation
of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 623(a); retaliation
and hostile work environment in violation of both Title VII,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (2000), and the ADEA, 29 U.S.C.
§ 623(d); and violation of the Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601. DYRS has filed a
motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 22) and, for the reasons
set forth below, the court will GRANT the motion.
who was over forty years old at the time of the relevant
events, began her employment with DYRS as a Correctional
Institutional Administrator with Detained Services in 2004.
(Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 11, 14; Defs. Ex. A). Richardson
claims she was targeted for multiple transfers to various
positions, including positions that “did not
exist” or were slated for elimination because of her
gender, age and prior protected EEO activity. (Am. Compl.
¶ 11). Prior to the incidents at issue here, Richardson
apparently filed an EEO charge against DYRS challenging age
and sex-based disparate treatment. (Am. Compl. ¶¶
8-10). Subsequently, the transfers intensified, along with
alleged retaliation and hostile treatment. (Am. Compl. ¶
13). When she complained about the transfers, her supervisor
informed her that the Deputy Director had expressed concerns
about Plaintiff's previous EEO complaint against the
agency. (Id.) On various other occasions she
complained about the transfers, but DYRS allegedly ignored
her telephone calls and e-mail messages. (Id.)
the facts and timing are unclear, it appears that sometime
around September 2013 DYRS transferred Richardson to an
unspecified position and replaced her with Bruce Wright, even
though he did not possess a Social Worker's license,
which Richardson alleges was a requirement for the position.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 12). Richardson alleges the transfer was
motivated by gender bias and retaliation. (Id.)
Although she claims she had no performance issues, DYRS
terminated her the following year. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14). It
appears she later sought re-employment with DYRS in either
the same position or a different position, but the agency
refused to rehire her, claiming she was unqualified for the
position(s) sought. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16, 17). Instead
DYRS hired Steve Baynes, even though Richardson contends she
was more qualified. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16, 17).
Richardson asserts that she applied for Family Medical Leave,
but the agency denied her request. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15).
seeks summary judgment on all of Richardson's claims.
(ECF No. 22).
judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is
appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact,
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 325 (1986). “A fact is ‘material'
if a dispute over it might affect the outcome of a suit under
governing law.” Holcomb v. Powell, 433 F.3d
889, 895 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (internal citation omitted). In
determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists,
the court must view all facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The moving
party bears the “initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits . . . which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323 (internal quotation
employment discrimination cases, “the operative
question . . . is whether ‘the employee produced
sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the
employer intentionally discriminated against the employee on
the basis of [protected status].'” Ayissi-Etoh
v. Fannie Mae, 712 F.3d 572, 576 (D.C. Cir. 2013)
(citation and original alterations omitted). “[W]hen
the plaintiff offers direct evidence of discriminatory
intent, that evidence will ‘generally entitle a
plaintiff to a jury trial.'” Id. (citation
omitted). In the absence of direct evidence, however,
discrimination cases are governed by the burden-shifting
framework laid out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under this framework, the
plaintiff must first establish, by a preponderance of the
evidence, a prima facie case of discrimination.
See McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. at 802. Once
the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the
defendant must produce evidence that the challenged
employment actions were taken for a legitimate,
non-discriminatory reason. See Aka v. Washington Hosp.
Ctr., 156 F.3d 1284, 1288 (D.C. Cir. 1998). If the
defendant can do so, “the presumption . . . raised by
the prima facie case is rebutted and drops from the
case.” Id. at 1289 (quoting St. Mary's
Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 507 (1993)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). At this juncture, the burden shifts
back to the plaintiff to show that a reasonable jury could
infer that the proffered legitimate reason was false and that
the defendant acted with discriminatory or retaliatory
intent. Id. In order to meet this burden, the
plaintiff must “go beyond the pleadings and by her own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S at 324 (internal quotation
Disparate Treatment and Retaliation Claims
regard to Richardson's termination claim, DYRS asserts
that the agency was required to comply with certain budgetary
directives and, in so doing, eliminated her position in a
reduction-in-force (RIF), along with twenty-five others
identified as duplicative. (See ECF No. 22-2, Defs.
Exs. B, C, D, E; ECF No. 22-1, Defs. Statement of Facts
¶¶ 2-5) (hereinafter “Defs. SOF”). With
respect to Richardson's reassignment/transfer claims,
DYRS argues that the claims are not actionable because
Richardson suffered no adverse employment action and she
cannot show DYRS treated her less favorably than those
outside of her protected class.
responds that there are material facts in dispute as to the
“real purpose and extent of” the various
transfers and the termination. (Pls. Resp. pp. 1, 3; Am.
Compl. ¶ 7). She claims that DYRS Director Neil Stanley
reassigned her to lower positions three times between
September 2011 and October 2013, in an effort to make her
more susceptible to the RIF, (Pls. Resp. pp. 18, 21-22;
see id. p. 13), and “many” of those
designated for the RIF were over forty. (See Pls.
Resp. p. 1; see Am. Compl. ¶ 7). Richardson
further alleges that, as a consequence of one reassignment,
she reported to a supervisor who held the same grade as she
did, and she complains that one of the reassignments involved
placing her in a cubicle, without a door, ...