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Jones v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 4, 2018

TONIA L. JONES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.

          OPINION

          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER JUDGE

         Tonia Jones and Kenniss Weeks were police officers and squad car partners in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in the summer of 2006. Ms. Jones, who was known to her colleagues as a lesbian woman, began an intimate relationship with Ms. Weeks, who at the time was known to her colleagues as a heterosexual woman who had previously been married to a man. The unexpected relationship between the two women created a wave at MPD, and Ms. Jones and Ms. Weeks now allege that the ripples from that wave created a hostile work environment for them, in violation of Title VII and the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA), for which they sue the District of Columbia (the District or D.C.) Both Plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to harassment and hostility on the basis of sexual orientation and sex, as well as retaliation for complaining. Because the claims all emanate from allegations related to Plaintiffs' lesbian relationship, and they have not raised a genuine issue of material fact as to harassment based on sex, the Court will grant D.C.'s motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiffs' sex discrimination claims under Title VII and DCHRA. However, because there are disputes of material fact concerning Plaintiffs' claims of a hostile work environment due to their sexual orientation and retaliation for protected activities under DCHRA, the Court will deny summary judgment on those claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         1. Plaintiffs' Romantic Relationship

         Ms. Jones and Ms. Weeks are police officers of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Ms. Weeks has worked for MPD since 2000; she was assigned to the Seventh District (7D), first as an officer, and later as an investigator and a detective, from September 2000 until December 2009. See Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts [Dkt. 90-1] ¶¶ 74-75, 153 (Def.'s Undisputed); Pl. Weeks's Statement of Material Facts in Dispute [Dkt. 93-1] ¶¶ W002-03 (Weeks Disputed).[1] Ms. Jones began working for MPD in 2001 and was assigned to 7D at all relevant times except for a brief assignment in July 2010. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶¶ 2-3; Pl. Jones's Statement of Material Facts in Dispute [Dkt. 96-1] ¶¶ J002-03 (Jones Disputed).

         Prior to the fall of 2006, both Ms. Weeks and Ms. Jones were friends with Sergeant Jonathan Podorski, the day-shift supervisor of Police Service Area (PSA) 703. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶¶ 6, 78; Weeks Disputed ¶ W006; Jones Disputed ¶ J006.[2] Ms. Weeks considered Sgt. Podorski a close friend; she had socialized at his home, he taught her how to play the guitar, and they had gone on group vacations together, along with other coworkers. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 79; Weeks Dep. [Dkt. 93-11] at 13, 22. During this time, Ms. Weeks also believed that Sgt. Podorski had romantic feelings for her. See Weeks Disputed ¶ W007. Ms. Jones and Sgt. Podorski also had a friendly relationship; they had socialized on several occasions and Ms. Jones considered Sgt. Podorski to be a “good guy, a friend.” See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 6; Jones Dep. [Dkt. 93-7] at 21. Prior to September 2006, people at MPD knew that Ms. Jones identified as a lesbian, but Ms. Weeks was known to her colleagues as a heterosexual woman. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 13. Ms. Weeks and Ms. Jones were assigned to ride together beginning in early 2006. See 3d Am. Compl. [Dkt. 26] ¶ 8.

         In July 2006, Ms. Jones and Ms. Weeks began a romantic relationship. See id.; Def.'s Undisputed ¶¶ 4, 76. By September 2006, both were assigned to PSA 703, riding together as partners, and reporting to Sgt. Podorski. See Jones Dep. at 113. Ms. Jones testified that around that time, while on duty with Sgt. Podorski in an MPD scout car, she told him that she was dating another female officer. See Jones Dep. at 28-30. Sgt. Podorski did not react with anger or otherwise negatively at the time, although Ms. Jones says that “at some point he became angry.” Jones Dep. at 37. Also in September 2006, both Plaintiffs together told Sgt. Podorski about their relationship. See Jones Dep. at 42-43; Weeks Dep. at 20-23. According to Ms. Weeks, Sgt. Podorski responded by telling Ms. Weeks “you let the kid come out and play, ” which she took to mean that she “let [her] emotions come out.” Weeks Dep. at 24. Ms. Jones did not recall Sgt. Podorski's reaction during this joint conversation. See Jones Dep. at 43-44.

         Ms. Jones and Ms. Weeks assert that Sgt. Podorski's behavior toward them changed after they informed him of their relationship. Shortly afterwards, Sgt. Podorski told Ms. Jones that Ms. Weeks was a “drama queen.” Jones Dep. at 109-10; Podorski Dep. [93-2] at 33- 35. In another conversation, Sgt. Podorski warned Ms. Jones that she “shouldn't mess with” Ms. Weeks, whom he called “poison.” Jones Dep. at 109; Podorski Dep. at 35. Ms. Weeks alleges that Sgt. Podorski also told her that Ms. Jones was “poison.” Weeks Dep. at 91.

         2. Alleged Hostile Actions Related to Work Assignments

         On September 24, 2006, Plaintiffs arrived at a domestic violence call where two family members were suspected of hitting and threatening a teenage family member with a knife. See Podorski IAD File Narrative Report [Dkt. 94-7] at 2 (Podorski IAD); Jones Dep. 120.[3]Plaintiffs talked with the teenager and determined that she had been attacked for telling her family that she was a lesbian. See Podorski IAD at 5. Sgt. Podorski ordered Plaintiffs not to arrest the two family members and to bring the teenager to a mental health facility for evaluation. Id. at 4-5. Sgt. Podorski stated that he had prior experience with the teenager and knew she had mental health issues and was a runaway. See Podorski Dep. at 53, 122-24. Plaintiffs disagreed with his order, and called the MPD Gay and Lesbian Unit (GLU) to complain about it. See Podorski IAD at 5. Sgt. Brett Parsons of the GLU, along with another MPD officer, came to the scene, interviewed witnesses, and arrested the two family members. Id. Sgt. Podorski was subsequently referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for “Failure to Make a Lawful Arrest, ” and cited by MPD's Internal Affairs Division (IAD) for Neglect of Duty. See Podorski IAD Final Report [Dkt. 94-11] at 3. Ms. Jones alleges that after these events on September 24, 2006, Sgt. Podorski prevented the Plaintiffs from riding together on a daily basis, even during periods when they were assigned to the same PSA. See Jones Disputed ¶¶ J028-29.

         In November 2006, Plaintiffs participated in the annual “open season” bidding process, in which MPD officers bid on different PSA assignments. See Jones OHR Complaint (Apr. 20, 2009), Jones OHR File [Dkt. 94-3] at 3. Both Plaintiffs had planned to bid for PSA 703, but Sgt. Podorski assigned Ms. Jones to be out on duty during bidding, and when she returned to the 7D office, PSA 703 was full. See Id. As a result, Ms. Weeks bid on and was assigned to PSA 703, Ms. Jones was assigned to PSA 701, and Plaintiffs were unable to ride together as squad-car partners. See Id. Ms. Jones alleges that Sgt. Podorski intentionally assigned her to be out on patrol during bidding in order to keep her and Ms. Weeks apart. See id.; see also Weeks OHR Rebuttal Affidavit (Nov. 10, 2008) [Dkt. 94-8] at 1.

         Ms. Weeks also alleges that Sgt. Podorski “would call-in” to inquire about Plaintiffs' court appearances, which he would not do with other officers. Id. at 6.

         In November 2006, Sgt. Podorski gave Ms. Jones a performance evaluation score of 28, representing “exceeds expectations, ” on her annual performance evaluation. Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 27.

         In January 2007 Sgt. Podorski informed Plaintiffs that he believed they were unsafe riding together because they had too many Use of Force Incident Reports (UFIRs). See Podorski Dep. at 42-46. At some point that month, Sgt. Podorski posted a notice at 7D, stating that Ms. Jones, Ms. Weeks, and one other officer had too many UFIRs and experienced too many injuries at work. See Jones Dep. at 55-56; Weeks Dep. at 85. Plaintiffs allege that this posting was harassing because it was unusual and violated their privacy, and that the record does not support the District's contention that Sgt. Podorski separated Plaintiffs because of their UFIRs. See Jones Opp'n at 33-34;[4] Jones Disputed ¶ J044; see also Jones Dep. at 58 (calling the posted notice an invasion of privacy); Weeks Dep. at 85 (asserting that the posting of the notice created a hostile work environment). Sgt. Podorski testified that he told other sergeants in 7D that Plaintiffs were overly aggressive when they worked together, but he did not recall “a specific incident” that “triggered” the notice posting. See Podorski Dep. at 45-46.

         After the notice on excessive UFIRs was posted, Ms. Weeks told Sgts. Eric Levenberry and Buddy Smallwood that she believed Sgt. Podorski was being unfair. See Weeks Dep. at 63. According to Ms. Weeks, Sgt. Levenberry told her she could file a complaint with the District's Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office, but warned her that if she did, Sgt. Podorski might tell people that Ms. Weeks had slept with him. Id. Sgt. Levenberry recalled the conversation but not how he advised Ms. Weeks. See Levenberry Dep. [Dkt. 94-12] at 19. Ms. Jones testified that, also in January 2007, she and Ms. Weeks together complained to Lt. Derek Larsen about Sgt. Podorski, telling Lt. Larsen that they did not want to work with Sgt. Podorski anymore because of the way he had been treating them. See Jones Dep. at 69, 72-79. There was apparently no immediate response; Lt. Larsen testified that he advised Plaintiffs several months later, in October 2007, that if they were having a problem with Sgt. Podorski they could file an EEO complaint. See Larsen Dep. [Dkt. 94-1] at 42-43. In February 2007, Plaintiffs also talked with Lt. Ashley Rosenthal, a former EEO counselor for 7D and trainer at the Police Academy, about Sgt. Podorski's allegedly harassing behavior; Plaintiffs allege that Lt. Rosenthal advised them to document their complaints but did not take further steps to address their concerns. See Weeks Dep. at 333; Rosenthal Dep. [Dkt. 97-9] at 59-62.

         In March 2007, Ms. Jones began her new assignment in PSA 701. During this time, Sgt. Podorski was responsible for Roll Call assignments to scout cars, and Ms. Jones alleges that Sgt. Podorski routinely refused to assign her and Ms. Weeks to the same scout car, even though he would routinely assign other officers in heterosexual relationships to ride together. See Statement of Officer Tonia L. Jones, Jones OHR File at 68-74.[5] Also during March 2007, Plaintiffs met with Joel Maupin, Commander of 7D, to complain about Sgt. Podorski and to request that they both be transferred to the midnight shift to avoid his supervision. See Weeks Dep. at 137. CDR Maupin informed Plaintiffs that they could file an EEO complaint, but that he had a policy between open bids of agreeing to reassignments only with a “body-for-body” replacement; that is, a transferring officer had to find another officer to take her place. See Id. at 136-37, 142; Jones Dep. at 127-28. CDR Maupin testified that the “body-for-body” requirement is standard procedure because of staffing limitations, see Maupin Dep. [Dkt. 93-12] at 31, while Plaintiffs contend that the “body-for-body” policy was not an official policy and was selectively enforced in a discriminatory way. See Weeks Dep. at 130-32 (Ms. Weeks describing her understanding that one other officer had been permitted to change her shift without a “body-for-body” replacement). Both Ms. Weeks and Ms. Jones were reassigned to the midnight shift later in 2007, in August and September, respectively, when each had found a replacement with whom to switch. See Weeks Dep. at 125-26.

         3. Alleged Hostile Actions at Myrtle Beach Bike Week

         Sgt. Yurell Washington was the supervisor in 7D on the midnight shift to whose supervision each Plaintiff voluntarily transferred in late summer 2007. See Weeks Disputed ¶ W010; Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 80. Before those transfers, in May 2007, Plaintiffs had traveled with Sgt. Washington and his girlfriend to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for an annual motorcycle rally (Bike Week). See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 82; Weeks Disputed ¶ W012. During the several-hours-long drive, during which the travelers talked and, at various times, Plaintiffs openly kissed in the back seat, Sgt. Washington asked Ms. Weeks why she “switched to being with women, ” which Ms. Weeks alleges was invasive and harassing. Weeks Opp'n at 14; see Washington Dep. [Dkt. 94-15] at 77-79, 116-17. Sgt. Washington contends that the question came up naturally in conversation and that he had no hidden motive in asking it. See Washington Dep. at 77-78.

         A number of MPD officers traveled to Myrtle Beach for “Bike Week” and during the vacation Plaintiffs stayed at a rental house with other officers including Sgts. Podorski and Washington. Jones Dep. at 102; see also Washington Dep. at 113. During a party one night at a different house, a clearly drunk Sgt. Podorski walked out onto the porch and yelled, “Do you want to f-k?” in front of a large group that included Plaintiffs. Jones Dep. at 46. That Sgt. Podorski asked this question is undisputed; there is a dispute as to whether he was seriously propositioning Ms. Weeks or both Plaintiffs, see, e.g., Weeks Dep. at 118 (“I took it as him being serious.”), or if the outburst was directed at no one in particular, see Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 118; Podorski Dep. at 66 (“I don't know if I was yelling at them or someone else in the house.”). Ms. Jones testified that other officers at the party expressed their indignation to her about the Sergeant's conduct, although apparently none presented evidence in discovery. See Jones Dep. at 106. Ms. Jones also testified that she helped to restrain other officers from attacking Sgt. Podorski. See Id. (“I was trying to stop other people from assaulting [Sgt. Podorski].”). Plaintiffs argue that their recollections of other officers' reactions after Sgt. Podorski's outburst corroborates Ms. Jones's testimony that the outburst was directed at either Ms. Weeks or both women.

         4. Alleged Hostile Actions by Sgt. Washington and Other Officers

         After Ms. Weeks transferred to the midnight shift in August 2007, Sgt. Washington suggested a couple of times that they ride their motorcycles to work together. Weeks Dep. at 124 (recalling that Sgt. Washington invited her to ride their bikes “a couple times”); Washington Dep. at 55 (recalling that he asked her once, in a casual, friendly manner). Ms. Weeks now complains that she felt harassed by Sgt. Washington's offers to ride their motorcycles to work together.

         By mid-September 2007, Plaintiffs were both assigned to the midnight shift and were again patrolling together. During a patrol prior to September 19, Plaintiffs stopped an automobile that had been reported stolen. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 119; Washington Dep. at 53. A woman who was a known prostitute was driving the car; after talking with her, Plaintiffs accepted her word that the owner of the car (who had reported it stolen) had given her permission to drive it. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 120; Weeks Dep. at 151-53. Plaintiffs reported the encounter to Sgt. Washington, who ordered them to arrest the woman as a suspected car thief. Plaintiffs refused. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶¶ 120-21; Washington Dep. at 53. Sgt. Washington became angry because Plaintiffs defied his direct orders, although he ultimately agreed not to insist that they lock up the suspect. See Weeks Dep. at 157. Sgt. Washington testified that Plaintiffs' insubordination during this incident, particularly Ms. Weeks's vocal resistance to his orders, was “the last straw, ” and he determined to separate them. Washington Dep. at 54; see also Id. at 55 (stating that Ms. Weeks resisted his orders vocally, while Ms. Jones was largely silent throughout the incident).[6]

         Sgt. Washington separated Plaintiffs by assigning Ms. Weeks to the so-called “Marjorie Court detail, ” a temporary fixed-post assignment to provide protection to a fellow officer at his home, on September 19, 2007. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 124; Washington Dep. at 55, 80-81. During such a stint on October 5, 2007, Ms. Weeks arrested a suspect on an unrelated matter, but Sgt. Washington ordered her to return to her detail and assigned the arrest to another officer to process at the lock-up. Ms. Weeks charges that in doing so Sgt. Washington was treating her unfairly. See Weeks Internal Affairs Division Interview at 9-11 (Oct. 7, 2007) [Dkt. 94-18] (Weeks IAD Interview). Plaintiffs believe that Sgt. Washington assigned Ms. Weeks to the detail in order to separate Plaintiffs, and that his intent was punitive. Ms. Weeks alleges that another officer asked for the detail but Sgt. Washington refused because he was “saving” it for Ms. Weeks. Weeks OHR Complaint (Apr. 20, 2009), Weeks OHR File at 3 [Dkt. 94-4]; Weeks Dep. at 128; see also Washington Dep. at 60 (testifying that he did not recall telling anyone that he was “saving” the detail for Ms. Weeks).

         Plaintiffs further allege that Sgt. Washington inappropriately referred to their sexual orientation. According to Ms. Weeks's testimony, Sgt. Washington's girlfriend told Ms. Weeks that he had described the women as “the butch one” (Ms. Jones) and “the femme one” (Ms. Weeks), which Ms. Weeks considered derogatory, harassing, and evidence of Sgt. Washington's inappropriate focus on their sexual orientation. See Weeks Dep. at 95-97. Sgt. Washington testified that he did not recall using those terms, but that it was “a known impression” in 7D that Ms. Jones was “butch” and Ms. Weeks was “femme.” Washington Dep. at 79. Plaintiffs also allege that Sgt. Washington frequently initiated frank discussions with Plaintiffs about his sexual attraction to other women, which Plaintiffs assert was unprofessional and which they believe Sgt. Washington would not have done with heterosexual female colleagues. See Weeks Disputed ¶ W097; Washington Dep. at 131-32.

         Further, Plaintiffs complain that other MPD employees harassed them because of their sexual orientation. They allege that, in September 2007, they were standing together when Officer Stephen Pristoop, a colleague, offered $5, 000 to Ms. Weeks to watch the couple have sex; Plaintiffs rejected the offer. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 135; Jones Dep. at 264-66. Officer Pristoop was later fired by MPD, due to unrelated inappropriate actions. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 138; Washington Dep. at 59-60. Ms. Jones alleges that Sgt. Buddy Smallwood asked her if he “could have a kiss, ” adding that Ms. Weeks would not find out. See Jones Dep. at 262. Ms. Weeks alleges that Officer William Chapman would frequently tell her that she should “go back” to men. 3d Am. Compl. [Dkt. 26] ¶ 18. There is no allegation that either Plaintiff reported any of these encounters to MPD at the time. See, e.g., Weeks Dep. at 266 (“I can't remember if I told someone [about Officer Pristoop].”).

         5. Investigations of Ms. Weeks for Neglect of Duty and Absence

         In September and October of 2007, Ms. Weeks was investigated, on Sgt. Washington's orders, for two separate incidents involving MPD's absence and leave policies. First, on September 26, 2007, Ms. Weeks was investigated for “neglect of duty” after allegedly leaving a squad car partner (not Ms. Jones) behind and neglecting to follow MPD procedures after doing so. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶¶ 126-28; Washington Dep. at 626-3. Ms. Weeks disputes that she ever left a partner behind and contends that the charge was baseless. See Weeks Dep. at 176-78. She was never formally reprimanded for the alleged violation, and she does not know if anything came of it, but she argues that being written up contributed to a hostile work environment. She also states that the investigation remains in her 7D employment file as an “adverse action.” See id.; Weeks Disputed ¶¶ W087-88.

         Second, on October 3, 2007, Ms. Weeks called in sick but failed to check in with MPD's medical clinic upon returning to work as required by official policy; as a result, Sgt. Washington initiated an investigation into Ms. Weeks for being absent without leave (AWOL). See Weeks AWOL Investigation Memorandum (Feb. 27, 2008) [Dkt. 90-9]. Ms. Weeks admits that she failed to comply with existing policy (and was officially AWOL) but complains that Sgt. Washington checked in repeatedly with medical staff to ask if Ms. Weeks had reported to them, which Ms. Weeks contends was atypical and harassing. See, e.g., Weeks Dep. at 192-93, 195. Ms. Weeks also contends that the AWOL investigation was untimely as it was not commenced until four days after the incident, and that she herself was not told about the AWOL charge for a year. See Weeks Disputed ¶ W091.

         6. Plaintiffs' Stress Leave

         On October 7, 2007, Ms. Weeks and Ms. Jones attended the wedding of two fellow officers. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 139; Weeks Disputed ¶ W102. Plaintiffs each requested one hour of leave, although MPD policy provided for short periods of personal leave in the form of two- or four-hour blocks. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 140; Weeks Disputed ¶ W102. Upon arriving at work, Plaintiffs saw Sgt. Washington just leaving 7D.[7] They then found that he had marked them out for two hours. They allege that he had not marked other officers out for two hours, even though others may have been gone for as long as or longer than Plaintiffs. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 141; Weeks Disputed ¶ W105. The record is not clear as to whether Plaintiffs were late arriving on duty by an hour or slightly more, but Plaintiffs contend that clarity is unimportant because Sgt. Washington had already marked them out for two hours before he knew when they actually reported. See Weeks Dep. at 176; Jones Dep. at 144. Neither Plaintiff brought the mistake to the attention of Sgt. Washington or requested a correction to her leave records through typical channels, although each described the matter when they filed EEO charges with MPD's Internal Affairs Division later that month. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 142; Weeks Disputed ¶ W106.

         Plaintiffs say that they became too stressed to work after Sgt. Washington marked them out for two hours for the wedding and decided to take stress leave. On October 8, 2007, both Plaintiffs filed formal stress complaints with MPD, alleging that their work environment was stressful because Sgt. Washington was discriminating against them based on “sexual preference.” See Jones and Weeks PD-42 Documents (Oct. 7, 2007) [Dkt. 94-19] (PD-42 Documents). Both also reported physiological symptoms such as headaches and nausea due to ongoing harassment. Id. Plaintiffs immediately took time off due to stress and did not return to work until November 26, 2007. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 147; Weeks Dep. at 201-02. While on stress leave, both Plaintiffs filed EEO complaints with the Internal Affairs Division (IAD), alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and retaliation. Ms. Jones complained of such treatment by Sgt. Podorski, but not Sgt. Washington, and Ms. Weeks complained of such treatment by Sgt. Washington, but not Sgt. Podorski. Each Plaintiff was interviewed by EEO Counselor Debbie Burt. See Weeks IAD Interview; Jones IAD Interview (Oct. 15, 2007) [Dkt. 94-10].

         Additionally while on stress leave, Plaintiffs took a preplanned, prepaid, one-week vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶¶ 145-46. The parties dispute whether Plaintiffs had remaining paid annual leave to cover their vacation or used paid stress leave. Plaintiffs admit that they had both exhausted their sick and annual leave at the time, see 3d Am. Compl. ¶ 70, but Ms. Weeks asserts that they both had received approval for the vacation prior to requesting stress leave, and that they used approximately 40 hours of annual leave and not stress leave for the vacation. See Weeks Disputed ¶ W113. In addition, Ms. Weeks alleges that MPD categorized her leave time incorrectly. See Id. ¶ W115.

         In November 2007, Sgt. Podorski gave Ms. Jones a performance evaluation rating of 26, or “meets expectations.” This 2007 rating was two points lower than his evaluation of her in 2006. See Jones Annual Evaluation 2007 [Dkt. 90-11]. Sgt. Podorski initially gave Ms. Weeks a performance rating of 26 as well but that rating was raised to 28 (“exceeds expectations”) by another sergeant in PSA 703, Sgt. Robert Hunter. See 3d Am. Compl. ¶ 99; Weeks Dep. at 213. Ms. Jones signed her evaluation on December 2, 2007, but was not given a copy. See Jones Dep. at 213. Ms. Jones did not grieve her evaluation because, she says, she had not received a copy and the evaluation was not in her personnel folder when she looked. See Id. at 213-14. Ms. Jones received a copy of her 2006 evaluation on February 8, 2008. See Jones Copy, Jones Annual Evaluation 2007 (signed as having been “Received 2-8-08”) [Dkt. 96-4].

         Plaintiffs returned from stress leave on November 26, 2007. Ms. Jones complains that Sgt. Washington told her “[Y]ou can feed the dogs but they will bite you, ” which she interpreted as a threat related to her EEO charge. See Washington Dep. at 83-84. In January 2008, Sgt. Washington allegedly told Ms. Jones, “Y'all pulled that shit. You jumped on the band wagon with Weeks. I always been straight with you. That shit is f-ked up. You and your girl f-ked up.” See Jones PD-119 Report (Jan. 22, 2008) [Dkt. 95-6]. After they returned from stress leave in December 2007, both Plaintiffs had been reassigned to PSA 705, where they were supervised by Lt. Rosenthal. See Jones Disputed ¶ J026; see also Rosenthal Dep. at 27-28 (confirming that she had supervised both Plaintiffs in PSA 705 around this time).

         Ms. Jones alleges that Sgt. Podorski escalated his aggressive behavior toward her when, on March 11, 2008, she asked him to sign a routine report, and he threw the papers on the floor in anger and refused to sign. Another sergeant subsequently signed the papers. See Jones Dep. at 52-53. In May 2008, when Ms. Weeks was injured in an on-duty car accident, Ms. Jones complains that Sgt. (First Name Unknown) LaFranchise refused to grant Ms. Jones's request to leave work early to pick up Ms. Weeks from the hospital. See Jones OHR Complaint at 3 (Apr. 20, 2009); Statement of Officer Tonia L. Jones ¶ 15 (No. 08-206-DC(N)), Jones OHR File at 17. Plaintiffs also contend that during the same month CDR Maupin again split them up by assigning Ms. Weeks to the “midnight shifts, ” and that he told Ms. Jones she need not “follow” Ms. Weeks “everywhere she [goes].” Jones OHR Complaint (Apr. 20, 2009); see also Maupin Dep. at 74 (stating that he did not recall making this comment).

         7. Detective Applications and Ms. Weeks's Move to 7D Detectives' Office

         In the spring of 2008, both Plaintiffs were eligible for, and participated in, MPD's Investigator Qualifications and Selection Process. See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 150. A total of 228 officers, including both Plaintiffs, were found to be eligible for 63 open positions. Id. ¶ 151. The candidates were all ranked and the 63 highest-ranking officers were promoted to Investigator, a precursor to becoming a Detective; the other names remained on the list to be awarded promotions as vacancies occurred in the order of the list. See Investigator Candidate Ranking List [Dkt. 90-15]. The ranking took into account multiple factors in determining each candidate's overall ranking. These included a written examination (20 percent), an interview with a panel (50 percent), and past performance evaluations (10 percent). See Jones Testing Results [Dkt. 90-17]; Weeks Testing Results [Dkt. 90-16]; Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. [Dkt. 90] at 22 (Mot.). At the end of the application process in October 2008, Ms. Weeks was ranked 16th and was selected to become an Investigator. Ms. Jones, however, was ranked 193rd and was not selected, as there were only 63 openings. See Investigator Candidate Ranking List. Although Ms. Jones contends that Sgt. Podorski's “meets expectations” performance evaluation in 2006 was the major factor in her ranking, the District maintains that Ms. Jones's overall low score- including her examination results and poor interview-was the determinative factor. See Jones Disputed ¶ J099; Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 63. Ms. Jones has withdrawn her allegations that MPD discriminated against her by failing to promote her to Investigator. See Jones Opp'n at 22 n.6 [Dkt. 96].

         When Ms. Weeks was promoted to Investigator in October 2008, she ceased to work as a patrol officer. Instead, Ms. Weeks began to work in the 7D Detectives' Office as an Investigator. See MPD Investigator Selection for Criminal Investigations Division (Oct. 23, 2008) [Dkt. 95-2]. Ms. Weeks alleges that she continued to suffer a hostile work environment despite the change in work location and supervisors. She alleges that she was given less desirable assignments than those assigned to male colleagues, arrest warrants she initiated were given to male colleagues for closure, and her cases were reassigned to male detectives. See Weeks Handwritten Notes [Dkt. 95-3] at 1-2. She complains that a superior asked her if she was “timid” and that she was “ridiculed” once when she requested training. Weeks Dep. at 259, 227. Ms. Weeks also complains that her supervisor, Sgt. Avis King, verbally counseled her for contacting a friend working in MPD's Homicide unit for help on a case and that Sgt. King then sent an email to all 7D detectives to condemn the practice of “going outside of this unit crying about not receiving assistance with cases” without following proper protocol, a practice Sgt. King called “cancerous.” Avis King Email (Dec. 9, 2008) [Dkt. 95-4]. Later in December 2008, Ms. Weeks requested an hour of leave to attend a funeral service for a fallen police officer, but was denied leave by Sgt. King because there was a mandatory meeting. See Weeks Handwritten Notes at 2. Ms. Weeks complains that another sergeant counseled her for requesting leave. Id.

         Further, Ms. Weeks alleges that, in February 2009 in the 7D Detectives' Office, she opened one of her desk drawers to find an unwrapped tampon, which she believes had been placed there to harass her. See Weeks Dep. at 249-51. Ms. Weeks reported the incident to her supervisors, and she complains that they did not initiate an investigation to identify the person who placed the tampon in the drawer. See Weeks Dep. at 249-51. The District maintains that the tampon incident is immaterial because Ms. Weeks fails to link it to “any supervisor action or inaction.” See Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 155.

         Ms. Weeks was promoted to Detective in October 2009 and transferred out of 7D in December 2009. See Weeks Transfer Email [Dkt. 95-9].

         B. Procedural Background

         1. Plaintiffs' MPD and D.C. Administrative Complaints

         Under D.C. regulations, an employee is entitled to a final interview with her EEO counselor, at which the employee must be given an “Exit Letter” informing her of the disposition of her EEO charge and of her right to file a complaint with the Director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR) within 15 days. See D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 4 § 105.5-105.6. At her request, Ms. Weeks received such an Exit Letter on December 14, 2007; the document warned her that she had 15 days to file a complaint with OHR if she wished to pursue her charges. See Weeks Exit Letter [Dkt. 64-19]; see also Def.'s Undisputed ¶ 158. Despite the warning in the Exit Letter, Ms. Weeks waited until March 31, 2008, to file a complaint of discrimination with OHR alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation. Weeks OHR Complaint (Mar. 31, 2008). Ms. Jones did not ask for an Exit Letter and did not receive one until March 31, 2008. Jones Exit Letter [Dkt. 64-20]. Unlike Ms. Weeks, Ms. Jones promptly filed a sexual orientation-based complaint with OHR on the same day. See Jones OHR Complaint (Mar. 31, 2008), Jones OHR File at 1-2.

         On December 23, 2008, Plaintiffs' counsel sent letters to MPD stating that both Plaintiffs wanted to amend their initial OHR Complaints to include gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and reprisal, but the letters did not include any sworn statements or charges from Plaintiffs themselves, and were, therefore, ineffective for the purpose. See Jones OHR File at 20; Weeks OHR File at 20. On April 1, 2009, Plaintiffs' counsel sent an email to OHR, attaching statements from Ms. Jones and Ms. Weeks in which they alleged discrimination on the basis of gender in addition to their earlier claims. See Juliette Niehuss Email (Apr. 1, 2009) [Dkt. 90-22]. The date on the signature line of each of Plaintiffs' amended OHR complaints is April 20, 2009, see Weeks OHR Complaint (Apr. 20, 2009), Weeks OHR File at 4; Jones OHR Complaint (Apr. 20, 2009), Jones OHR File at 12, and the District concedes that April 1, 2009, the date of the email with Plaintiffs' statements attached, is the formal filing date of the amendments. See, e.g., Mot. at 27 (“Plaintiff [Jones] did not file her EEOC complaint until April 1, 2009.”); see also Id. (citing the April 1, 2009 email as the record citation for Ms. Jones's filing of her amended OHR complaint). The complaints were cross-filed with the Washington Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as charges of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

         Ms. Jones alleges that, several months later, Sgt. Levenberry emailed OHR investigators to tell them that Ms. Jones threatened EEO complaints whenever she did not get her way; Ms. Jones argues that Sgt. Levenberry sent these emails in retaliation for Ms. Jones having mentioned him in her OHR complaint. See Levenberry OHR Emails [Dkt. 95-7]. Sgt. Levenberry has testified that he was merely answering questions from OHR investigators concerning an EEO charge filed by Ms. Jones against him. See Levenberry Dep. at 52.

         2. Procedural History of the ...


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