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Said v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 10, 2018

CHERYL RENEE SAID, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          REGGIE B. WALTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Cheryl Renee Said, instituted this civil action against the defendant, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2 to -7 (2012) (“Title VII”), § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”), D.C. Code § 2-1402.11(a)(1) (2012), the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, District of Columbia public policy, and District of Columbia common law. See Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 3, 64.[1] Currently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Def.'s Mot.”). Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions, [2] the Court concludes that it must grant in part and deny in part the defendant's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As an initial matter, the defendant argues that the Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts fails to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the local rules of this Court, and therefore, “the Court should . . . not accept any argument [raised] therein as creating a factual dispute that may defeat [its] motion, deem each of [its] factual statements as admitted, and grant summary judgment in [its] favor on the record evidence it presents in support of its motion.” Def.'s Reply at 3. The defendant further argues that “the Court should disregard all of the unsupported ‘facts' and unauthenticated exhibits [the p]laintiff relies upon in opposing [its] motion, ” emphasizing that the plaintiff has “not set[] forth any of her ‘facts' in her [s]eparate [s]tatement[, and] has complied with none of the[] requirements [in the federal and local rules] for the purported ‘facts' in her brief.” Id. at 4.

         The Court agrees with the defendant that the plaintiff's submissions to the Court fail to comply with both the federal and local rules in a number of respects. The Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts fails to comply with Local Rule 7(h), which requires “[a]n opposition . . . [to include] a separate concise statement of genuine issues setting forth all material facts as to which it is contended there exists a genuine issue necessary to be litigated, . . . [and] references to the parts of the record relied on to support the statement, ” LcvR 7(h)(1), and also Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(1), which similarly requires that “[a] party asserting that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by [ ] citing to particular parts of materials in the record, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Although the Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts purports to identify seven broad “issues” in dispute, it fails to set forth any statements of fact or provide any corresponding citations to the record. See, e.g., Pl.'s Disputed Facts ¶ 4 (asserting merely that “[t]here is a genuine material issue of fact in dispute as to whether [the d]efendant's claimed reason for terminating [the p]laintiff[] was a pretext and a cover up”). Furthermore, the Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts fails to specifically respond to the individual statements of fact asserted in the Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts. See id. at 2 (generally asserting only that “[w]ith the exception of [ ] nos. 1- 6, . . . [the d]efendant[']s undisputed facts are arguments, and as such [the p]laintiff disputes [the d]efendant[']s claimed [u]ndisputed facts”). Moreover, although “the 2010 amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 eliminated the unequivocal requirement that documents submitted in support of a summary judgment motion [or opposition] must be authenticated, ” Akers v. Beal Bank, 845 F.Supp.2d 238, 243 (D.D.C. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted), it is still the plaintiff's “burden [as] the proponent [of the material cited to support or dispute a fact] to show that the material is admissible as presented or to explain the admissible form that is anticipated, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2) advisory committee's note to 2010 Amendment, subsection c, and the plaintiff has failed to do that here, at least not in a manner that is apparent to the Court. And finally, the defendant is correct that aside from intermittent citations to these same exhibits, the plaintiff's opposition is almost entirely devoid of citations to the record. See generally Pl.'s Opp'n.

         Although the Court is troubled by the plaintiff's counsel's non-compliance, which “makes the work of the Court more onerous, ” Lawrence v. Lew, 156 F.Supp.3d 149, 155-56 (D.D.C. 2016), in the interest of resolving the defendant's summary judgment motion without further delay, and because “strong policies favor the resolution of genuine disputes on their merits, ” Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 832 (D.C. Cir. 1980), the Court declines to “disregard” all of the plaintiff's facts and exhibits or deem the Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts admitted. Rather, the Court will consider the plaintiff's facts and exhibits to the extent that they are relevant and supported by evidence in the record that is readily identifiable by the Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3) (“The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.”); see also Chambliss v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., Civ. Action No. 05-2490 (CKK), 2007 WL 581900, at *2 (D.D.C. Feb. 20, 2007) (“Despite [the p]laintiff's abject failure to comply with his obligations under Local Civil Rule 56.1 . . ., in the interest of justice, the Court has nevertheless undertaken a review of the record evidence . . . in order to determine whether that evidence raises genuine issues of fact.”). Furthermore, the Court will make an independent assessment as to whether the facts in the Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts are indeed undisputed by the plaintiff. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) (“If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact . . ., the court may[] . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion.” (emphasis added)).[3]

         Based on the Court's independent review of the record evidence, including the plaintiff's deposition testimony, the Court concludes that the following relevant facts are undisputed, with the exception of facts attributed solely to the plaintiff's deposition testimony or otherwise noted as an allegation by the plaintiff. The “[p]laintiff, an African American female, ” was employed by Amtrak as a Lead Service Attendant [ ] based out of Washington, D.C. Def.'s Facts ¶ 1 (footnote omitted); see also Def.'s Mot., Att. (Declaration of Joshua B. Waxman in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Apr. 28, 2017) (“Waxman Decl.”)), Exhibit (“Ex.”) A (Deposition Transcript of Cheryl Renee Said (Feb. 13, 2017)) (“Said Dep.”) 23:22-25. During the plaintiff's employment with Amtrak, she was a “member[] of a bargaining unit whose terms and conditions of employment [we]re governed by a collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA') between Amtrak and [the] Amtrak Service Workers Council (. . . the ‘Union').” Def.'s Facts ¶ 5; see also Said Dep. 30:14-25. The plaintiff's direct supervisor was On-Board Services Manager Phyllis McClinton, see Def.'s Facts ¶ 2; see also Said Dep. 26:16-18, an African American female, see Def.'s Facts ¶ 4, and Philip Ryan, a Caucasian male, was the Washington, D.C. Crew Base Manager, Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 44, 46; see also Said Dep. 79:25-80:2. “Per the [U]nion contract, [Ryan] was [also] the [plaintiff's] supervisor, ” Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. C (DCOHR Interview with Phil Ryan, Crew Base Manager (“Ryan Interview”) (Oct. 29, 2013)) at DCOHR000038; however, he “was not [the p]laintiff's day-to-day supervisor, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 46.

         The plaintiff testified during her deposition that in 2010, “around two months before” February 2, 2011, see Said Dep. 89:9-10, she was “confronted” by Ryan, id. 87:17-21, who, according to the plaintiff, called her to his office because he “had assumed that [she] was not at [her] post, and he wanted to . . . discipline [her], ” id. 87:14-17. She testified that McClinton and a fellow Lead Service Agent, Lee Lockhart, a Caucasian male, were also present during the encounter, id. 87:17-21, 89:11-22, 92:25-93:1, and that Lockhart “spoke up for [her] to let [Ryan] know that [she] was where [she] was suppose[d] to be, ” id. 93:4-5. She further testified that “as [she was] leaving” Ryan's office, Ryan “mentioned to [her, ] . . . I thought it was you, because you all look alike.” Id. 87:22-24. The plaintiff asserted that Lockhart was present when Ryan made this statement, id. 89:20-22, but “McClinton was not [with]in the distance where she could hear [Ryan's statement]” because she had left the office before the statement was made, id. 90:3-10.

         On February 1, 2011, the plaintiff's husband died as a result of suffering an aneurysm, see id. 47:12-48:18, and “[o]n or about February 2, 2011, [the p]laintiff began a leave of absence due to her husband's death, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 13; see also Said Dep. 51:8-13. “[A]bout a week later, [the plaintiff] spoke with [ ] McClinton by phone, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 14, who, according to the plaintiff, informed the plaintiff “that [she] was putting [the plaintiff] on bereavement leave, ” Said Dep. 82:13-14. Then, on February 15, 2011, “McClinton [ ] submitted a request for [the p]laintiff to take a personal leave of absence.” Def.'s Facts ¶ 14; see also Said Dep., Ex. 7 (Request for Leave of Absence/Return from Leave of Absence (Feb. 15, 2011) (the “February 15, 2011 Request”)). The request indicated that the leave of absence would have an “Effective Date” of February 20, 2011, and an “Estimated Return from [the Leave of Absence] Date” of March 1, 2011. Said Dep., Ex. 7 (February 15, 2011 Request).[4]

         The plaintiff testified that around two weeks after receiving McClinton's first phone call, McClinton contacted her again and informed her that she “was putting [the plaintiff] on [ ] personal leave.” Id. 82:18-25. During that conversation, McClinton “[a]sked [the plaintiff] how [she] was feeling, and [the plaintiff] told [McClinton] that [she] was not feeling very well, ” to which McClinton responded “take all the time [you] need[].” Id. 83:5-9. The plaintiff further testified that she told McClinton that she “needed health insurance, ” and McClinton said “she would look into it.” Id. 83:13-15. McClinton subsequently “called [the plaintiff] back about a week later, ” and told the plaintiff “that Amtrak was not able to insure [her] because [she] was on leave without pay, ” but again told her that she should “take all the time that [she] needed to get well to return to work.” Id. 83:15-19.

         On March 31, 2011, “[a]fter speaking with [the p]laintiff again by phone, [ ] McClinton submitted a request for an extension of [the p]laintiff's personal leave until April 30, 2011.” Def.'s Facts. ¶ 17; see also Said Dep., Ex. 8 (Request for Leave of Absence/Return from Leave of Absence (Mar. 31, 2011) (the “March 31, 2011 Request”)). The request indicated that the leave of absence would have an “Effective Date” of March 26, 2011, and an “Estimated Return from [the Leave of Absence] Date” of April 30, 2011. Said Dep., Ex. 8 (March 31, 2011 Request).[5] “[The p]laintiff and [ ] McClinton spoke again at some point in or around April 2011, at which time [ ] McClinton verbally extended [the p]laintiff's leave without a specific return date.” Def.'s Facts ¶ 18 (citing Said Dep. 57:18-23); see also Said. Dep. 85:16-20 (testifying that she spoke to McClinton on the phone “sometime before early May 2011, ” when McClinton called her to “check[] to see how [she] was doing, ” and McClinton told her that “she[] [would] continue to put [her] on leave without pay”).

         On February 24, 2011, the plaintiff moved her residence from Washington, D.C. to Maryland. See id. 76:13-19, 84:11. The plaintiff testified that around the date of her move, she verbally notified an employee named Cassandra at Amtrak's “crew base” of her new address, see id. 107:21-108:24, 113:2, as well as another person at “the crew management base, ” id. 84:12- 15, 113:2. She also testified that she “talked to someone” at Amtrak's Human Resources office in Wilmington, Delaware, id. 110:7-9, and “faxed [her] . . . new address” to that office, id. 112:5-6. The plaintiff also testified that around the same time, she “gave [McClinton her new] address, ” id. 83:20-23, and “about one to two weeks later, ” she “received a [condolence] card” from McClinton at her new address, id. 84:1-2; see also Def.'s Facts ¶ 16. Furthermore, on April 29, 2011, the “[p]laintiff contacted the [Amtrak] Employee Service Center [ ] to change her address, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 21; see also Said Dep., Ex. 12 (Record of April 29, 2011 conversation with Jacqueline King), and she “spoke with Human Capital Representative Jacqueline King, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 23. Following that conversation, “King emailed [the p]laintiff a change-of-address form to complete, ” id. ¶ 24; however, the plaintiff testified that she did not remember if she filled out the change-of-address form and returned it, Said Dep. 115:12-15, and “Amtrak has no record of [the p]laintiff returning the change-of-address form that [ ] King sent her in April 2011, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 27.

         “In [or] about April 2011, Amtrak received correspondence from [the p]laintiff's husband's life insurance carrier (Security Mutual Life) requesting that Amtrak verify certain information.” Id. ¶ 28. In “the first part of May [2011], ” Said Dep. 85:10-15, Ryan “called [the p]laintiff on her phone (the number of which did not change when she moved) to ask if he could release information to the insurer, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 29. “[The p]laintiff agreed, and [ ] Ryan [ ] responded to the insurer with the requested information.” Id. ¶ 28; see also Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. E (Deposition of Philip Roger Ryan (Feb. 23, 2017)) (“Ryan Dep.”), Ex. A (Letter from Philip Ryan, Manager, Washington Crew Base, to Security Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York (Apr. 15, 2011) (“Security Mutual letter”)) at 3.

         “In or about July 2011, [the p]laintiff encountered [Assistant Superintendant Kathy] Brewer, ” McClinton's supervisor and an African American female, “at a grocery store.” Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 4, 30. According to the plaintiff's testimony, she told Brewer that she “wasn't doing well at all, ” and Brewer told her to “take all the time you need to get well.” Said Dep. 102:12- 17. The plaintiff also testified that Brewer told her that she “was able to receive disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board” (the “Board”), id. 102:19-22, which “administers benefits for all railroad[] [employees] in the United States, including Amtrak [employees], ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 31. Thereafter, also “in or about July 2011, ” the plaintiff applied for sickness benefits from the Board, Def.'s Facts ¶ 34; see also Said Dep. 102:19-23, and “provided the [Board] with her [new] address[] and communicated with the [Board] via the address she provided, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 34. The plaintiff further testified that she “started receiving [benefits] in August of 2011, ” Said Dep. 102:22-23, and while receiving these benefits, the Board periodically sent her forms, which she “sen[t] to [her] doctor to fill out about [her] condition [and] progress, ” id. 105:17-19, and then she returned the forms to the Board once they were completed, see id. 106:5-7.

         In July 2011, McClinton also took a medical leave of absence, see Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. B (DCOHR Interview with Phyllis McClinton, Supervisor (Nov. 14, 2013)) at DCOHR000045; see also Def.'s Facts ¶ 3, during which time “On-Board Service Manager Patricia Baylor, ” an African American female, “assumed some of [ ] McClinton's supervisory responsibilities, ” Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 3-4. “At some point [thereafter] . . ., it was brought to [ ] Baylor's attention that . . . [the p]laintiff[] had been absent for an extended period of time.” Id. ¶ 42. Baylor “tried by phone” to reach the plaintiff, but “wasn't able to reach her.” Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. D (DCOHR Interview with Patricia Baylor, On-Board Services Manager (Oct. 29, 2014) (“Baylor Interview”)) at DCOHR000041-42; see also Def.'s Facts ¶ 43 (stating that Baylor “tr[ied] to reach [the p]laintiff”). In addition, “Baylor contacted Amtrak's Medical Department to determine whether [the p]laintiff was on an approved medical leave, and she was told that Amtrak had no record of [the p]laintiff being on [medical] leave.” Def.'s Facts ¶ 43.

         On September 30, 2011, Baylor forwarded an e-mail to Ryan, which she also sent to Brewer, informing him that “[t]he department [had not] heard from [the plaintiff] concerning [her] absence from work for the past several months[, and that t]his is clearly a violation of the Attendance policy and [stated that] a Rule 24 letter [wa]s necessary at th[at] time.” Ryan Dep., Ex. A (E-mail from Patricia Baylor to Philip Ryan (Sept. 30, 2011) (the “Sept. 30, 2011 Email”)) at 1. “Per [ ] Baylor's instruction . . ., [ ] Ryan prepared a letter to [the p]laintiff . . ., using the address on file in Amtrak's [ ] database, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 47, which the plaintiff asserts was her former Washington, D.C. address, see Said Dep. 62:23-25 (“[A] letter had been sent to my old address, want[ing] to know my whereabouts, and where I had been[.]”), and “[p]rior to sending the letter, . . . [he] contacted Amtrak's Human Resources Department to confirm [the p]laintiff's address, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 47. Thereafter, “Ryan sent the [ ] letter to [the p]laintiff via Federal Express . . ., copying [ ] Baylor and [ ] Brewer, as well as Dwayne Bateman, [the p]laintiff's Union representative.” Id. ¶ 48. In the letter, dated October 12, 2011, Ryan “advised [the plaintiff] that the Medical Department ha[d] not received an update for [her] absence from work, ” and that “[i]n order to continue [her] absence, [she was] instructed to contact the Medical Department immediately and provide whatever documentation necessary to update [her] records.” Said Dep., Ex. 18 (Letter from Philip Ryan, Manager, Washington Crew Base, to Cheryl Said (October 12, 2011) (the “Rule 24 notification letter”)). It further warned that

failure to comply with these instructions will invoke Rule 24 of the [Union] contract, which reads in part . . . [“]Employees who are absent from work for [ten] days without notifying the company[] shall be considered resigned from the corporation, unless the corporation is furnished satisfactory evidence that the failure is due to circumstances beyond their control.”

Id., Ex. 18 (Rule 24 notification letter) (omission in original). The Rule 24 notification “letter was returned to Amtrak as undeliverable.” Def.'s Facts ¶ 50. As a result of the letter being returned, Ryan “contacted [ ] Bateman to determine whether the [Union] had a different address for [the p]laintiff, ” but “Bateman advised [him] that the [Union] had the same address on file that Amtrak had.” Id. However, “Ryan did not attempt to contact [the p]laintiff by []phone, ” consistent with “Amtrak's policy to send Rule 24 communications exclusively in writing, so as to have a clear record of the same.” Id. ¶ 51.

         On November 4, 2011, “[b]ecause [the p]laintiff did not respond to the [ ] Rule 24 [notification] letter, ” id. ¶ 52, Ryan sent a second letter to the plaintiff, which served as “official notification that [the plaintiff was] [ ] considered resigned, ” Said Dep., Ex. 19 (Letter from Philip Ryan, Manager, Washington Crew Base, to Cheryl Said (Nov. 4, 2011) (the “Rule 24 termination letter”)). Specifically, the letter stated:

There has been no response or notification of your prolonged absence from work at Amtrak. In a letter sent to you on October 12, 2011, . . . you were instructed to notify the corporation [of] your absence. In the letter, you were informed that failure to do so w[ould] invoke Rule 24 of the [Union] contract, and you w[ould] be considered as resigned from the corporation.

Id., Ex. 19 (Rule 24 termination letter). “On November 7, 2011, [the p]laintiff's termination was recorded by Amtrak as an ‘involuntary separation,' effective November 4, 2011, without eligibility for rehire[, ]” Def.'s Facts ¶ 53, with the reason recorded as “No Return from [Leave of Absence], ” Ryan Dep., Ex. D (Involuntary Separation form). The plaintiff testified that she “never received” either of the Rule 24 letters from the defendant. Said Dep. 124:3-4.

         “On or about February 7, 2012, [the p]laintiff appeared at the Washington[, ] D.C. crew base, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 55 (footnote omitted), “to let the[] [defendant] know that [her] doctor had released [her] to return back to work on February 19, ” Said Dep. 62:4-6. However, “Ryan advised [the plaintiff] that her employment had been terminated, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 55, and he further “advised [her] to discuss the situation with her Union and provided her with [ ] Bateman's []phone number, ” id. ¶ 56; see also Said Dep. 62:10-14. The “[p]laintiff contacted . . . Bateman, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 61; see also Said Dep. 62:16-18, and informed him that she “had just found out that [she] had been terminated, ” Said Dep. 62:20-21. Thereafter, the Union “advised her that [it] would not file a grievance on her behalf, ” Def.'s Facts ¶ 61, and the “[p]laintiff did not pursue her grievance to the National Railroad Adjustment Board or public law board, ” id. ¶ 63; see also Said Dep. 66:14-21 (acknowledging that she did not file a formal grievance).

         On January 30, 2013, the plaintiff submitted an Intake Questionnaire to the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (“DCOHR”), see Def.'s Facts ¶ 64; see also Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. F (Employment Intake Questionnaire) at DCOHR000019, and, on May 30, 2013, she filed a Charge of Discrimination with the DCOHR, in which she alleged that the defendant had unlawfully terminated her employment based on her race, gender, and disability, see Def.'s Facts ¶ 65. On or about January 13, 2014, the DCOHR issued a determination letter, id. ¶ 67, which found “no probable cause to believe” the plaintiff's claims, Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. G (Letter of Determination - No. Cause Finding (Jan. 13, 2014)) at DCOHR000079. Thereafter, on May 4, 2015, the plaintiff alleges that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) mailed her a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” letter. Compl., Ex. A (Dismissal and Notice of Rights) at 1. The plaintiff filed this suit on August 11, 2015. See Compl. at 1.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Courts will grant a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When ruling on a Rule 56(a) motion, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Holcomb v. Powell, 433 F.3d 889, 895 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (citing Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)). The Court must therefore draw “all justifiable inferences” in the non-moving party's favor and accept the non-moving party's evidence as true. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         In responding to a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Accordingly, the non-moving party must not rely on “mere allegations or denials . . . but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there [are] [ ] genuine issue[s] for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (second omission in original) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position [is] insufficient” to withstand a motion for summary judgment, as “there must be [some] evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].” Id. at 252.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. The Plaintiff's Title VII Claims

         The defendant argues that the plaintiff's Title VII claims are time-barred “[b]ecause [the p]laintiff did not file her Charge [of Discrimination] (or even initiate the administrative process via the intake questionnaire) until well after [the three-hundred-]day[] [statutorily required administrative filing period] had elapsed.” Def.'s Mem. at 4. The Court agrees.

         The District of Columbia Circuit has made clear that “Title VII ‘[c]omplainants must timely exhaust the[ir] administrative remedies before bringing their claims to court.'” Payne v. Salazar, 619 F.3d 56, 65 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (alterations in original) (quoting Bowden v. United States, 106 F.3d 433, 437 (D.C. Cir. 1997)). To exhaust her administrative remedies, “a complainant must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within [three hundred] days of [the alleged unlawful] practice if the complainant ‘has initially instituted proceedings with a State or local agency with authority to grant or seek relief from such practice.'” Lattisaw v. District of Columbia, 118 F.Supp.3d 142, 154 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e- 5(e)(1)); see also Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 109 (2002) (“[A]n employee who initially files a grievance with [a state] agency must file the charge with the EEOC within [three hundred] days of the employment practice.”).

         Here, the parties agree that the plaintiff initially instituted the proceedings in this case by filing an Intake Questionnaire with the DCOHR, see Def.'s Facts ¶ 64; Pl.'s Opp'n at 7, and that the statutory period for filing an administrative charge with the EEOC commenced on the day when the plaintiff first learned about her termination, see Def.'s Mem. at 4; Pl.'s Opp'n at 8, which the plaintiff testified was February 7, 2012, see Said Dep. 61:2-3.[6] Therefore, the plaintiff was required to file her charge of discrimination with the EEOC within three hundred days thereafter, or by December 3, 2012. Curiously, neither party has provided the Court with a date when the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, and the plaintiff actually insists that she “did not file her Complaint with the EEOC, ” but rather that “[h]er Complaint was only sent to the EEOC for ‘substantial review' of the DCOHR decision which [she] challenged.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 7. However, the DCOHR's Letter of Determination submitted by the defendant suggests that a charge of discrimination was indeed filed with the EEOC, as the letter purports to relate to an “EEOC No.” of “10C-2013-00242, ” see Def.'s Mot., Att. (Waxman Decl.), Ex. G (Letter of Determination - No. Cause Finding) at 1, and the EEOC Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter attached to the plaintiff's Complaint refers to an “EEOC Charge No.” that matches the “EEOC No.” recorded by the DCOHR, see Compl., Ex. A (Dismissal and Notice of Rights) at 1. Nonetheless, it appears that any EEOC charge was not timely filed. The plaintiff's “EEOC Charge No., ” which contains a reference to the year “2013, ” suggests that the charge was filed in that year, and therefore could not have been filed until January 1, 2013 at the earliest, approximately one month past the statutory deadline. Alternatively, the plaintiff's assertion that she “did not file her Complaint with the EEOC, ” Pl.'s Opp'n at 7, suggests that her EEOC charge was automatically generated pursuant to “the worksharing agreement between the . . . []DCOHR[] and the EEOC, . . . [which] operates so that ‘[c]harges received by one agency under the agreement shall be deemed received by the other agency, '” Miller v. Gray, 52 F.Supp.3d 62, 68 (D.D.C. 2014) (third alteration in original) (quoting Schuler v. PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, 514 F.3d 1365, 1372 (D.C. Cir. 2008)). And, because the plaintiff does not dispute that she did not initiate the DCOHR proceedings related to her case until January 20, 2013, when she filed her Intake Questionnaire, see Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. B (Employment Intake Questionnaire) at DCOHR000019, and that she did not file her DCOHR charge until May 30, 2013, see Def.'s Facts ¶ 65, her EEOC charge could not have been “cross-filed” prior to those dates, which are nearly two months and six months after the expiration of the statutory period, respectively. Therefore, in the absence of any evidence suggesting the contrary, the Court must conclude that any EEOC charge related to the plaintiff's case was not timely filed.

         Nonetheless, the plaintiff argues that her claims are timely because she “filed her discrimination [c]omplaint with the . . . []DCOHR[], [and] the limitation[s] period under D[.]C[.] [ ] law is one year.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 7. However, as the defendant correctly notes, the Supreme Court has foreclosed the plaintiff's argument that any statute of limitations provided in the D.C. Code applies to a Title VII claim. See Def.'s Reply at 5 (citing EEOC v. Comm. Office Prods. Co., 486 U.S. 107, 123 (1988)); see also Comm. Office Prods. Co., 486 U.S. at 123 (“[S]tate time limits for filing discrimination claims do not determine the applicable federal time limit.”). Consequently, because the plaintiff did not timely file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, her Title VII claims are time-barred. See Dyson v. District of Columbia, 808 F.Supp.2d 84, 87 (D.D.C. 2011) (dismissing the plaintiff's Title VII claims as untimely because the plaintiff did not file her EEOC charge within the three-hundred-day time period).[7]

         B. The Plaintiff's Section 1981 Race Discrimination Claim

         The defendant argues that the plaintiff's discrimination claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 must “fail because Amtrak has proffered a legitimate, non[]discriminatory reason for [the p]laintiff's termination, which she cannot demonstrate was pretextual.” Def.'s Mem. at 6.[8] The plaintiff responds that the “[d]efendant's reason[] for terminating her . . . is [ ] pretext and [a] cover up [and i]t is a lie that [the d]efendant did not know . . . that [she] was absent from work due to illness.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 9. For the reasons explained below, the Court concludes that the plaintiff's race discrimination claim under § 1981 survives summary judgment, albeit barely, considering the position this Circuit has taken in prior cases.

         Section 1981 prohibits racial discrimination in the “making, performance, modification, and termination of contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship.” 42 U.S.C. § 1981(b). “[I]n order for [the p]laintiff's claims under . . . [s]ection 1981 to survive summary judgment, [she] must provide direct or circumstantial evidence of [the d]efendant['s] discriminatory intent.” Telesford v. Md. Provo-I Med. Servs., P.C., 204 F.Supp.3d 120, 128 (D.D.C. 2016). Direct evidence, “for example, a statement that itself shows racial or gender bias in the decision, ” “generally entitle[s] a plaintiff to a jury trial.” Vatel v. All. of Auto Mfrs., 627 F.3d 1245, 1246-47 (D.C. Cir. 2011). However, “[i]f a . . . plaintiff does not proffer direct evidence of discrimination, ‘[courts] apply the analytical framework adopted by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas.'” Hairston v. Vance-Cooks, 773 F.3d 266, 272 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (quoting Ginger v. District of Columbia, 527 F.3d 1340, 1344 (D.C. Cir. 2008)); see also Carney v. Am. Univ., 151 F.3d 1090, 1092-93 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (applying the McDonnell Douglas framework to a plaintiff's section 1981 claim). Under this framework, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination, see Reeves, 530 U.S. at 142, and if the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, “[t]he burden then must shift to the employer to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the [adverse employment action], ” McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). However, this Circuit has instructed that once the employer offers a legitimate, nondiscriminatory justification for its action, “the McDonnell Douglas framework-with its presumptions and burdens-disappears, and the sole remaining issue is discrimination vel non.” Jackson v. Gonzales, 496 F.3d 703, 707 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). In other words, when the “employer has asserted a legitimate, non[]discriminatory reason for” an adverse employment action in the context of a summary judgment motion, “the district court need not-and should not-decide whether the plaintiff actually made out a prima facie case under McDonnell Douglas.” Brady v. Office of Sergeant at Arms, 520 F.3d 490, 494 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Rather, the district court must evaluate only whether “the employee [has] produced sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the [employer's] asserted non[]discriminatory reason [for the adverse action] was not the actual reason and that the [employer] intentionally discriminated against the [employee] on the basis of race.” Id. To make this showing, the plaintiff must produce evidence “showing either ‘that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the employer or . . . that the employer's proffered explanation is unworthy of credence.'” Oviedo v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 299 F.Supp.3d 50, 60 (D.D.C. 2018) (quoting Tex. Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 256 (1981)).

         Here, the defendant has asserted legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the plaintiff's termination, alleging that the

[p]laintiff was terminated pursuant to Rule 24 of the [Union's] CBA after failing to communicate with Amtrak during her extended leave of absence, failing to advise Amtrak of the reason she continued to be on leave or her expected return date, and ...

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