United States District Court, District of Columbia
MAWULI M. TOVIHLON, Plaintiff,
ALLIED AVIATION, INC., JAMES BUCHANAN, JIM SIVIA, and RICK WILLIAMS, Defendants.
C. Lamberth United States District Judge.
the Court is the motion of defendants Allied Aviation, Inc.
("Allied"), James Buchanan, Jim Sivia and Rick
Williams ("defendants") for summary
judgement. ECF No. 75. Upon consideration of the
pleadings, the relevant law, and entire record of the case,
the Court GRANTS the defendants' motion
and the case is hereby dismissed.
Mawuli M. Tovihlon, began working at Allied on January 5,
2009. Allied is an independently owned and operated company
whose core business is providing fueling services for the
commercial aviation industry. Allied provides services at
airports across the United States, including Reagan Airport,
where the plaintiff worked for the entirety of his employment
with Allied. On May 11, 2009, after a four-month probationary
period, the plaintiff was promoted to Lead Mechanic and
assigned the overnight shift. The plaintiff was supervised,
at least in part, by defendant Rick Williams. Plaintiffs
responsibilities as a mechanic and lead mechanic involved
fixing trucks, maintaining equipment, maintaining the fuel
pits, and repairing buses for Fairfax County. While employed
with Allied, Plaintiff was a member of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
("IAMAW"), AFL-CIO, Air Transport District Lodge
142, Local Lodge No. 1747 (the "Union").
first confrontation described by the parties occurred in or
about March 2010. The parties dispute certain aspects of the
interaction, but at a minimum both provide that it related to
a work-performance issue. Defendant Williams confronted the
plaintiff regarding the method he employed for fixing a van.
After this first incident, there was no write-up or
disciplinary charges filed against the plaintiff. The
plaintiff alleges that around this time he heard Mr. Williams
state to Mr. Wyatt and Mr. Sivia-fellow supervisors at
Allied-that "he cannot work with an African Negro every
day and he cannot deal with Tovihlon" and that all three
laughed in response to the comment. ECF No. 77 at 7. The
defendants deny any such comments were made and the plaintiff
provides no corroborating evidence beyond his own deposition.
about April 2010, Mr. Williams again confronted the plaintiff
regarding his work performance and provided him with a
written warning. ECF No. 75-12 at 2. He noted that the
plaintiff "was signing off on hydrant pits checks as
being ok, when in fact pit lid seals were off the lids,
flange bolts missing, and bad hinges." Id. The
plaintiff lost no pay, benefits or status because of the
written warning. The plaintiff does not deny that he failed
to report hydrant pit issues, but rather notes that he did so
at the direction of Mr. Sivia.
three days of receiving the written warning, the plaintiff
submitted a complaint to Allied management. ECF No. 75-13 at
2. In it, he alleged that Mr. Williams "harassed"
him, "put pressure on [him]," and treated him
poorly. In response to the allegations, Allied investigated
and held a meeting on April 21, 2010. The meeting was
attended by the plaintiff, Allied management, and union
representatives. As outlined in Mr. Sivia's meeting
notes- transcribed around the time of the meeting-the
attendees discussed the plaintiffs work performance. They
also discussed the allegation that Mr. Williams had harassed
the plaintiff, with the plaintiff only citing the March 2010
incident. The plaintiff denies that he only provided one
example at the meeting of Mr. Williams harassing him and
cites numerous incidents of "mistreatment and harassing
actions" in his brief. ECF No. 77 at 11. However, the
plaintiff does not argue that he raised any of those
incidents at the meeting on April 21. In any event, the
meeting ended with Mr. Williams agreeing to "adapt his
tone of voice" when addressing the plaintiff and the
plaintiff was asked "to be less sensitive" to Mr.
William's tone of voice.
August 27, 2010, Mr. Williams provided the plaintiff with a
statement of charges of poor work performance for
"failure to check water level in the buses on the bus
checks." ECF No. 75-16. Soon after receiving the report,
the plaintiff filed a complaint with his union
representatives and alleged that Mr. Williams continued to
harass him. Specifically, he noted that Mr. Williams
discriminate[s] the way he treats people at work. He always
looking for something to accuse people of doing when he
himself make a lot of mistake and damage thing at work, And
no One say Anything about that; He uses He [sic] position to
harass me At work put pressure on me and do not let me focus
on the work I have to do....
ECF No. 75-17 at 2. The plaintiff makes no allegation in the
written complaint to racial or national origin
discrimination. Id. The plaintiff did not receive a
response to his complaint from the union.
around February 28, 2011, Allied discovered that the
plaintiffs Employment Authorization Card expired on November
20, 2010, and no new documentation had been submitted
demonstrating that he was authorized to work in the United
States. The plaintiff was, therefore, advised that he was
suspended until the appropriate documentation was provided.
After consultation with an attorney, it became clear that
because the plaintiff was applying for a green card, no new
work permit would be issued, but he was authorized to work.
He was reinstated the following day and was paid for the
single day he did not work.
Spring of 2011, the plaintiff was involved in two separate
altercations with Allied employees. The parties dispute the
nature of the altercations, but what is uncontested is that
one Allied employee submitted a hand-written complaint to
management stating that he was "threatened by the
[plaintiff] saying he is going to put' me in the
hospital." ECF No. 75-20. Mr. Williams attempted to
convince the other employee to also file a written complaint
against the plaintiff, but the employee refused. ECF No.
75-21 at 2.
week later, on June 6, 2011, the plaintiff submitted another
complaint to management regarding Mr. Williams's
continued harassment and discrimination against him. ECF No.
75-22. As with the previous complaints, the letter centers on
Williams's attempts to "falsely accuse" the
plaintiff of "poor work performance." Id.
The plaintiff further alleged that Williams coerced Allied
employees to file false reports against him. Id. The
plaintiff made similar allegations in a grievance form filed
with his union on June 13, 2011. ECF No. 75-23 at 2-3.
Neither the letter nor the grievance form contain allegations
of discrimination on the basis of race or national origin.
Baylor, an Allied operations manager, investigated the
allegations and ultimately concluded "that the issues
stemmed for personality conflicts and found that there was no
discrimination or harassment"-a conclusion disputed by
the plaintiff. ECF No. 75-1 at 16. At no point during a
meeting held throughout the course of the investigation did
the plaintiff allege that he was discriminated against based
on race or national origin.
next month, on July 5, 2011, the plaintiff filed a charge
with the NLRB, alleging that Allied supervisors
"harassed" him "by soliciting false statements
against him because of activities in behalf of the
[union]." ECF No. 75-26 at 5. In the twenty-six-page
written affidavit submitted to the NLRB, the plaintiff
detailed all of his prior complaints with Mr. Williams and
Allied management. However, he made no mention of any
discrimination on the basis of race or national origin. Nor
did he describe any discriminatory comments made about him.
Following an investigation, the NLRB dismissed the charge
finding that the "evidence failed to establish that the
Employer solicited false statements from employees." ECF
No. 75-6 at 2. The plaintiffs subsequent appeal was also
December 11, 2011, the plaintiff submitted his first
complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC"). He outlined "ongoing
harassment" by his employer and alleged that Mr.
Williams used a derogatory slur against him, referring to him
as an "African Nigger." ECF No. 75-31 at 2-3. The
EEOC investigated whether the plaintiff was "harassed,
and subjected to disparate treatment because of [his] race
(black), [his] national origin (African), and in retaliation
for complaining of discriminatory treatment." ECF No.
75-8. On December 9, 2014, the EEOC found that the
"evidence appears to show the employer had a legitimate
nondiscriminatory reason for its job actions and fails to
support your allegations of race and national origin
discrimination." ECF No. 75-8 at 2. The EEOC further
remarked that "[t]he evidence does not appear to show an
adverse job action was taken against you. The evidence does
appear to show the employer had a legitimate
non-discriminatory reason for taking the job action it took
and fails to support your allegation of retaliation."