United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Amy Liew brings this suit for racial discrimination and
retaliation pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. (Compl.
¶¶ 8, 12, 16-17). Defendant District of Columbia
has moved for summary judgment. (ECF No. 14). For reasons set
forth below, the court will GRANT the District's motion.
who is of Asian descent, began working for the District of
Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) on
April 7, 2014 as a probationary Legal Instrument Examiner,
responsible for responding to customer inquiries, examining
documents and processing transactions. (Compl. ¶ 4;
Defs. Ex. 3, Cobb Decl. ¶ 7; Defs. Ex. 1). Liew alleges
that during her employment, her managers and some of her
co-workers treated her “unfairly, ” spoke to her
“rudely in a negative tone, ” and acted as if she
was a child. (Pls. Ex. 1, Liew Aff. p. 1). She surmised that
this treatment resulted from her ability to multi-task and
her efforts to show kindness to customers. (Id.) She
also overhead an assistant manager, a supervisor and another
employee discussing the fact that she obtained her job
without having to participate in a panel interview in a tone
that suggested they were “upset and a bit
DMV's tardiness and absence policy requires employees to
arrive on time for their shifts. (ECF No. 14-1, Defs.
Statement of Undisputed Facts. #4 (hereinafter
“SOF”)). According to DMV service center manager
Rakonda Cobb, if an employee arrives late for work on an
isolated occasion, he or she will be charged with unscheduled
annual leave, but an employee (particularly a probationary
employee) who establishes a pattern of tardiness presents a
problem that Cobb will “address”-even when the
employee calls ahead to notify the DMV of the anticipated
tardiness. (Cobb Decl. ¶ 6). Consequently, failure to
receive advance approval for a late arrival can result in the
employee being charged absent without leave (AWOL). (SOF #
to the DMV, on September 16, 2014, at Cobb's direction, a
supervisor spoke to Liew about three prior tardiness events
and warned her that further incidents would result in her
being charged AWOL. (Cobb Decl. ¶ 9; Defs. Ex. 4).
Several months later, on November 12, 2014, Liew arrived 7
minutes late and was charged AWOL, resulting in an hour's
loss of pay. (Defs. Ex. 2, Bates # 659, 660).
days later, on November 14, 2014, Thomas Gaymon, an
African-American co-worker (whom Liew “believes”
is friends with her supervisors), started to “make fun
of Liew” and make negative comments about her race.
(Compl. ¶¶ 8, 12). When she protested, he
threatened to “punch her in the face” and
“beat her up” after work. (Id.
¶¶ 8-9). Liew claims that although she immediately
reported the incident to the Human Resources Department, they
“did nothing” and, likewise, neither did the
agency director or her two supervisors (both of whom are
African-American). (Id. ¶¶ 9-10). Liew
asserts she again reported the incident the next business
day, at which time the agency director moved Gaymon to what
Liew describes as “a different branch, ”
(id. ¶¶ 10-12), although it appears that
he was relocated to a building in a different part of the
city. (See Defs. Exs. 1, 9).
alleges that after this incident, her supervisors began
treating her differently by “targeting” her for
tardiness and marking her AWOL when she was “a minute
or two late, ” but they did not treat other employees
in the same manner. (Liew Aff. p.1). Liew was subsequently
charged AWOL for tardiness on December 4, 2014 (three minutes
late), December 9 (four hours late), December 13 (unclear how
late),  and January 16, 2015 (four minutes late).
(Cobb Decl. ¶ 11; Defs. Ex. 2, Bates # 661 - 671).
Liew arrived one minute late on January 22, the DMV placed a
letter in her file, described as a “follow-up” to
her conversation earlier in the day with a supervisor. (Defs.
Ex. 12). In the letter, the supervisor chastised Liew for her
continuing tardiness and noted it had been suggested on three
separate occasions that Liew adjust her report time, but she
had refused. (Id.) Finally, the supervisor reminded
Liew that her “tour of duty” began at 8:00 a.m.
and that she should plan to arrive prior to that time each
day. (Id.) According to the DMV, the following day,
January 23, Liew again arrived late. (Cobb Decl. ¶ 11; Defs.
Ex. 2, Bates # 666-667, 671).
terminated Liew on February 6, 2015, before her probationary
period expired. (Defs. Exs. 1, 5). Cobb, the supervisor who
recommended terminating Liew, also recommended terminating
three other probationary Legal Instrument Examiners for
“failing to appear for work on time”: Frances
Goins, Michael Monk and Jovan Powell. (Cobb Decl.
¶¶ 13-16; Defs. Exs. 6-8).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate where there is no disputed 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, 322-23 (1986). In determining
whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court
must view all facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986) (citing
United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655
(1962)). A plaintiff must provide more than her conclusory
statements to oppose a motion for summary judgment, as
“[c]onclusory allegations made in affidavits opposing a
motion for summary judgment are insufficient to create a
genuine issue of material fact.” Sage v. Broad.
Publ'ns, Inc., 997 F.Supp. 49, 53 (D.D.C. 1998).
TITLE VII STANDARD
VII of the Civil Rights Act provides that employment
decisions must be “made free from any discrimination
based on race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a). It also
prohibits retaliation against any employee because she
“has made a charge, testified, assisted, or
participated in any manner in ...