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Craig v. Mnuchin

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 21, 2018

B.B. CRAIG, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, Secretary of the Treasury Defendant.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR COMPLETE EQUITABLE RELIEF AND COMPLETE ATTORNEYS' FEES; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR PARTIAL EQUITABLE RELIEF AND INTERIM ATTORNEYS' FEES RE DOCUMENT NOS. 110, 120, 121, 129

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff B.B. Craig, an official at the United States Mint, sued United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, in his official capacity, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-17 (“Title VII”).[1] Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Craig, awarding him $5, 485 in compensatory damages. With the verdict now in, Mr. Craig seeks injunctive relief and attorneys' fees. As explained below, the Court concludes that Mr. Craig is entitled to both forms of relief, though not to the extent he requests. Accordingly, the Court grants in part and denies in part Mr. Craig's motions.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[2]

         Mr. Craig has worked for the United States Mint, as a member of the United States Treasury's Senior Executive Service (“SES”), since 2008.[3] See Am. Compl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 22. From 2008 to early 2013, he was the Associate Director of the Mint's Sales and Marketing Division (“A/D SAM”), having failed to receive his preferred position of Associate Director of the Mint's Manufacturing Division (“A/D Manufacturing”) in 2008. See Dep. Tr. B.B. Craig (“Craig Dep.”) at 24:25-26:1, 27:4-30:1, 128:1-4, ECF No. 51-3; Summ. J. Opp'n Ex. 4, ECF No. 41-6. As A/D SAM, Mr. Craig had authority to speak and act on behalf of the Mint, and he had significant supervisory authority over approximately ninety-four full-time-equivalent employees allotted to the SAM Division. See Decl. of B.B. Craig (“Craig Decl.”) ¶¶ 3-4, ECF No. 40-2.

         In 2012, Mr. Craig failed to meet the Mint's expectations on two critical SAM projects. Summ. J. Opp'n Ex. 11 at 4, ECF No. 41-11; Summ. J. Opp'n Ex. 24 at 5, ECF No. 41-19 (noting Mr. Crag's “lack of constructive resolution of and leadership on the Order Management System project, and the failure to produce an effective comprehensive marketing plan). These performance issues prompted the Mint's Chief Administrative Officer, Beverly Babers, to begin seeking a position in the Mint that would be a “better fit” for Mr. Craig. Id.; Craig Decl. ¶ 9. Around this time, Mr. Craig filed an informal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (an “EEO complaint”), alleging that certain individuals at the Mint discriminated against him based on his race and gender. Id. ¶ 10; Pls. Petition Award Reasonable Attorneys' Fees & Costs (“Fee Mot.”) Att. D, ECF No. 121-9.

         Ultimately, the “better fit” that Ms. Babers identified was a detail to a position called “Executive Lead” which, unlike Mr. Craig's previous position, had unclassified duties and no supervisory authority.[4] Craig Dep. at 128:1-7, 180:8-13; Craig Decl. ¶¶ 13-14; Summ. J. Opp'n Ex. 6, ECF No. 41-7. Mr. Craig remained in the Executive Lead position until 2014, when he was reassigned to a permanent SES position as Associate Director of Environment, Safety, and Health (“A/D ESH”), having again failed to receive an appointment to the A/D Manufacturing position. Craig Dep. at 125:15-128:6; Craig Decl. ¶ 14. Mr. Craig has received performance bonuses and excellent performance reviews since assuming the A/D ESH position, where he remains to this day. See Def's Opp'n Partial Equitable Relief (“Partial Inj. Opp'n”) Ex. A, ECF No. 112-1.

         Mr. Craig brought this action in 2014 and filed an amended complaint in 2015, alleging that the Mint violated Title VII by (1) failing to place Mr. Craig in the A/D Manufacturing position in 2008; (2) moving Mr. Craig out of the A/D SAM position in 2012; (3) giving Mr. Craig a sub-par performance review in 2012; (4) assigning Mr. Craig to the Executive Lead position for approximately 18 months, from 2012 to 2014; (5) declining to reassign Mr. Craig to the acting or permanent A/D Manufacturing or A/D SAM positions in 2014; and (6) reassigning Mr. Craig to his current position, the A/D ESH. See generally Am. Compl. These claims were narrowed over several rounds of briefing. First, the Court granted the government's pre-discovery motion for summary judgment on Mr. Craig's claim that his non-selection to the A/D Manufacturing position in 2008 was discriminatory. Craig v. Lew (Craig I), 109 F.Supp.3d 268, 284 (D.D.C. 2015). Next, the Court granted the government's post-discovery motion for summary judgment on Mr. Craig's claims that his sub-par performance review in 2012, his removal from the A/D SAM position in 2012, and the Mint's refusal to reassign him to the A/D SAM position in 2014 were discriminatory or retaliatory; and Mr. Craig's claims that his placement in the Executive Lead position from 2012 to 2014, his assignment to the A/D ESH position in 2014, and his non-selection to the A/D Manufacturing position in 2014 were discriminatory. Craig II, 278 F.Supp.3d at 59, 65, 69, 72, 76.

         Finally, the case went to trial on Mr. Craig's claims that (1) his placement in the Executive Lead position from 2012 to 2014; (2) his assignment to the A/D ESH position in 2014; and (3) his non-selection to the A/D Manufacturing position in 2014 were retaliatory, in violation of Title VII. Of these three claims that went to the jury, the jury found for Mr. Craig only on his claim that the Mint retaliated against him by detailing him to the role of Executive Lead, and it awarded Mr. Craig $5, 485 in compensatory damages. Jury Verdict, ECF No. 99. In 2018 the Mint received a new permanent Director, a position that had been unfilled since 2011. Pls. Mot. Award Partial Equitable Relief (“Partial Inj. Mot.”) at 4-5, ECF No. 110.

         Shortly after the trial, Mr. Craig filed a motion for partial injunctive relief. See generally Partial Inj. Mot. After the parties were unable to settle during mediation on injunctive relief and attorneys' fees, the Court ordered Mr. Craig to file motions for complete injunctive relief and complete attorneys' fees and costs. See Minute Order (Aug. 1, 2018). Mr. Craig dutifully filed those motions, which are now, along with his earlier motion for partial injunctive relief and his later motion for interim attorneys' fees, ripe for the Court's consideration. See Partial Inj. Mot.; Pls. Mot. Complete Award Equitable Relief (“Inj. Mot.”), ECF No. 120; Fee Mot., ECF No. 121; Pls. Mot. Interim Award Reasonable Attorneys' Fees (“Fee Mot. II”), ECF No. 129.[5]

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Equitable Relief

         “[O]ne of the central purposes of Title VII is ‘to make persons whole for injuries suffered on account of unlawful employment discrimination.'” Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., Inc., 424 U.S. 747, 763 (1976) (quoting Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 418 (1975)). Accordingly, Title VII expressly provides for a wide range of remedies:

If the court finds that the [defendant] has intentionally engaged in . . . an unlawful employment practice charged in the complaint, the court may enjoin the [defendant] from engaging in such unlawful employment practice, and order such affirmative action as may be appropriate, which may include, but is not limited to, reinstatement or hiring of employees, with or without back pay . . . or any other equitable relief as the court deems appropriate.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(g)(1).

         In considering what remedy is appropriate, the Court “must strive to grant ‘the most complete relief possible.'” Lander v. Lujan, 888 F.2d 153, 156 (D.C. Cir. 1989) (quoting Franks, 424 U.S. at 764). In other words, the Court's goal is to restore the plaintiffs, as nearly as possible, to the circumstances they “would have occupied if the wrong had not been committed.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Albemarle Paper, 422 U.S. at 418-19). In fashioning a remedy which satisfies the objectives of Title VII, the district court is vested with “considerable discretion.” Id.; see also Hayes v. Shalala, 933 F.Supp. 21, 25 (D.D.C. 1996).

         B. Attorneys' Fees

         Under Title VII, the Court is authorized, in its discretion, to award “the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee (including expert fees) as part of the costs.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). Generally, “[a] reasonable fee is one that is ‘adequate to attract competent counsel, but that does not produce windfalls to attorneys.'” West v. Potter, 717 F.3d 1030, 1033 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 897 (1984)). In awarding reasonable attorneys' fees, a court must conduct a two-step inquiry. Craig v. District of Columbia, 197 F.Supp.3d 268, 274-75 (D.D.C. 2016) (citing Does I, II, III v. District of Columbia., 448 F.Supp.2d 137, 140 (D.D.C. 2006)).

         First, the court must determine whether the plaintiff is the prevailing party. Id. at 275. A plaintiff is considered a prevailing party, entitled to attorneys' fees, “if [he] succeed[s] on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefit the [plaintiff] sought in bringing suit.” Harvey v. Mohammed, 951 F.Supp.2d 47, 53 (D.D.C. 2013) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)). A litigant need not succeed at every step of the litigation in order to be a prevailing party under Title VII; “a litigant who is unsuccessful at a stage of litigation that was a necessary step to [his] ultimate victory is entitled to attorney's fees even for the unsuccessful stage.” Craig, 197 F.Supp.3d at 275 (quoting Ashraf-Hassan v. Embassy of Fr. in the U.S., 189 F.Supp.3d 48, 54-55 (D.D.C. 2016)).

         Second, the court must determine whether the plaintiff's fee request is reasonable. Does I, II, III, 448 F.Supp.2d at 140. In analyzing the plaintiff's fee request, “[a] court must: (1) determine the ‘number of hours reasonably expended in litigation'; (2) set the ‘reasonable hourly rate'; and (3) use multipliers as ‘warranted.'” Salazar ex rel. Salazar v. District of Columbia, 809 F.3d 58, 61 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting Eley v. District of Columbia, 793 F.3d 97, 100 (D.C. Cir. 2015)). In determining whether the hours expended on the successful litigation are reasonable, the court must exclude hours that are “excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.” Craig, 197 F.Supp.3d at 275 (quoting Does I, II, III, 448 F.Supp.2d at 140). And in determining whether the proposed hourly rate is reasonable, the court must consider three sub-elements: “(1) ‘the attorneys' billing practices,' (2) ‘the attorneys' skills, experience, and reputation' and (3) ‘the prevailing market rates in the relevant community.'” Salazar, 809 F.3d at 62 (quoting Covington v. District of Columbia, 57 F.3d 1101, 1107 (D.C. Cir. 1995)). Generally, “there is a ‘strong presumption that the fee yielded by the now-ubiquitous lodestar method, which bases fees on the prevailing market rates in the relevant community, is reasonable.'” Makray v. Perez, 159 F.Supp.3d 25, 30 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting West, 717 F.3d at 1034). However, if a plaintiff “achieved only partial or limited success, ” the court may conclude that “the product of hours reasonably expended on the litigation as a whole times a reasonable hourly rate may be an excessive amount, ” and it may accordingly reduce the award. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436.

         Ultimately, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing both his entitlement to attorneys' fees and the reasonableness of the fees he seeks. See Eley, 793 F.3d at 100; Turner v. D.C. Bd. of Elections & Ethics, 354 F.3d 890, 895 (D.C. Cir. 2004); Covington, 57 F.3d at 1107. Once the plaintiff meets this initial burden, a presumption arises that the number of hours billed and the rates at which they are billed are reasonable. See Covington, 57 F.3d at 1110-11; Makray, 159 F.Supp.3d at 30; Jackson v. District of Columbia, 696 F.Supp.2d 97, 101 (D.D.C. 2010). At that point, the burden shifts to the opposing party to “provide specific contrary evidence tending to show that a lower rate would be appropriate.” Covington, 57 F.3d at 1109-10 (quoting Nat'l Ass'n of Concerned Veterans v. Sec'y of Def., 675 F.2d 1319, 1326 (D.C. Cir. 1982)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         As described above, the jury concluded that the Mint retaliated against Mr. Craig when it assigned him to the Executive Lead position. Mr. Craig's rights having been vindicated at trial, he is a prevailing party seeking injunctive relief and attorneys' fees. The Court will address each form of relief in turn, concluding that Mr. Craig is entitled to a portion of the injunctive relief sought and a portion of the attorneys' fees sought. Accordingly, it grants each of Mr. Craig's motions in part.

         A. Injunctive Relief

         The Court first addresses Mr. Craig's motions for injunctive relief. Again, under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(g)(1), the Court may grant “equitable relief” that “the court deems appropriate” to restore Mr. Craig, as nearly as possible, to the circumstances he would have occupied but for the Mint's retaliation. Lander, 888 F.2d at 156; see also Berger v. Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen, 170 F.3d 1111, 1119 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (“[A] court must, as nearly as possible, recreate the conditions and relationships that would have been, had there been no unlawful discrimination.” (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)). In furtherance of this objective, “[d]uring the remedial stage of the proceedings, the district court may make factual findings to determine appropriate ‘make whole' relief under § 2000e-5(g)(1), as long as the findings are consistent with the jury verdict.” Porter v. Natsios, 414 F.3d 13, 21 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (internal citation omitted).

         Mr. Craig seeks wide ranging injunctive relief designed to replicate the career path that he believes he would have followed, had he not been placed in the Executive Lead position. He asks the Court to (1) require the government to install Mr. Craig in a “dual hat” role; (2) enjoin the government from detailing Mr. Craig to a position with unclassified duties for more than 240 days; (3) declare that Mr. Craig's civil rights were violated by his placement in the Executive Lead position; and (4) require the government take certain actions with respect to Mr. Craig's personnel file and future employment inquiries. Inj. Mot. at 1-2. As explained below, the Court concludes that Mr. Craig is not entitled to a dual hat role or declaratory relief, but that he is entitled to certain personnel file-related relief. Accordingly, the Court grants Mr. Craig's motion in part.

         1. Assignment to a Dual Hat Role

         Mr. Craig argues that to restore him to the position he would have occupied but for the Mint's retaliation, this Court must require the Mint to install Mr. Craig in a dual hat role in which he encumbers his current Associate Director position and another SES-level position simultaneously. As noted, “Title VII envisioned that making a victim whole would include his reinstatement to the position he would have held but for the discrimination.” Jean-Baptiste v. District of Columbia, 958 F.Supp.2d 37, 42 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Lander, 888 F.2d at 156). However, while a court must strive to “recreate the conditions and relationships that would have been” in the absence of the defendant's discrimination or retaliation against the plaintiff, Berger, 170 F.3d at 1119 (quoting Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 372 (1977)), “equitable relief is not automatic and the court must assess the appropriateness of the equitable relief sought in light of the injuries found, ” Hayes, 933 F.Supp. at 27. “Where the jury has not actually decided an issue or where the basis for the jury's decision cannot be determined, the court is not bound.” Id. (citing Blake v. Hall, 668 F.2d 52, 54 (1st Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 983 (1982)). Accordingly, a court need not recreate a plaintiff's hypothetical career path, if the jury's verdict does not dictate that the plaintiff be placed on that path.

         Mr. Craig contends that “the path to career advancement for a member of the SES is through indefinite details in acting positions, usually while simultaneously assigned to his or her permanent position, ” Partial Inj. Mot. at 6, and that “other Associate Directors who did not engage in protected EEO activity” received these “career enhancing assignments.” Id. at 14. Mr. Craig thus asks the Court to require the government to install him as acting A/D of Manufacturing, acting A/D SAM, now titled Director of Numismatics and Bullion, acting Chief Administrative Officer, or an “equivalent acting position” for eighteen months, in addition to his current position as A/D ESH. Inj. Mot. at 1. The government counters that such relief is inappropriate because (1) the jury's verdict does not dictate that Mr. Craig be detailed-in addition to his current A/D ESH position-to another Associate Director position; and (2) Mr. Craig “has presented no evidence that would support a claim that he would have been ‘dual-hatted' in any other role, were it not for the Mint detailing him to the Executive Lead role.” Partial Inj. Opp'n at 8, ECF No. 112. The government's argument is well-taken.

         Courts in this District occasionally grant retroactive promotions grounded in plaintiffs' “career path” theories, applying the principle that a “remedial decree which considers career progress improperly denied is well within this Court's discretion under Title VII.” Brown v. Marsh, 713 F.Supp. 20, 22 (D.D.C. 1989) (citing Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 455 U.S. 385, 399 (1982); Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., Inc., 424 U.S. 747, 762 (1976)). In determining whether this type of relief is appropriate, a court must consider whether the jury's verdict is based on the plaintiff's failure to obtain a specific position or promotion to which he or she was entitled in the absence of discrimination or retaliation. See Porter, 414 F.3d at 22-23 (affirming the district court's decision to deny the plaintiff retroactive placement when the jury's verdict did not establish that the plaintiff would have received that placement in the absence of discrimination). The court must also look to “the career path of the man [or woman] promoted in [the plaintiff's] stead” and any record evidence suggesting that the plaintiff was likely to progress at a similar or faster rate. Brown, 713 F.Supp. at 22.

         For instance, in Brown, another court in this District determined that a plaintiff who had been refused a GS-9 position in the United States Army for discriminatory reasons was entitled to equitable relief mirroring the career path of the individual chosen for that position, who had subsequently advanced to a GS-13 position. Id. a 21-22. The record indicated that the plaintiff was a qualified, “perhaps . . . exceptional employee” with ambitious goals-as indicated by his personnel reviews, application history, and his superiors' statements-such that merely placing the plaintiff in the position he was initially refused “seem[ed] clearly inequitable.” Id. at 22-23. The court accordingly concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to back pay and retroactive promotions corresponding to the career path of the individual promoted in the plaintiff's stead. Id. at 24.

         Similarly, in Allen v. Barram, another court in this District held that the plaintiffs-who had been discriminatorily denied GS-7 jobs-were entitled to retroactive promotions and trainings to mirror the career paths of the individuals selected in their stead. 215 F.Supp.2d 184, 189-91 (D.D.C. 2002). The court concluded that because “the incumbents [could not] claim some expertise that [the] plaintiffs lack[ed]”, because the plaintiffs had “excellent records” and their “supervisors thought highly” of them, and because nine of the eleven incumbents achieved substantial career advancement from the positions that the plaintiffs were improperly denied, retroactive promotion was appropriate. Id. at 191-92.

         On the other hand, courts have been reluctant to grant retroactive promotions where a plaintiff is unable to sufficiently demonstrate that he would have achieved the promotions sought, but for the discrimination or retaliation. In Lloyd v. Holder, for instance, another court in this District refused to grant a retroactive promotion where the record indicated only that “if [the plaintiff] had had the opportunities which were denied him, [he] might have been a more attractive candidate for promotion.” No. 97-1287, 2010 WL 1999657at *3 (D.D.C. May 18, 2010). The court found it significant that the plaintiff provided no evidence that he was a competitive candidate for the promotion sought-he “was an average employee”-and the career path of the individual that the plaintiff sought to imitate “was not comparable” to the plaintiff's. Id. at *3-4; see also Jean-Baptiste, 958 F.Supp.2d at 42-43 (denying the plaintiff's request for a retroactive promotion where the plaintiff relied on “vague, ” “unduly speculative” assertions in support of that request); Fogg v. Gonzales, 407 F.Supp.2d 79, 91 n.6 (D.D.C. 2005) (holding that the plaintiff was not entitled to a retroactive promotion where such a promotion was “overly speculative” and the court was “not persuaded that [the plaintiff] would have been among the relatively few [individuals] selected to advance to the . . . level” sought) aff'd in part and rev'd on other grounds, 492 F.3d 447 (D.C. Cir. 2007).

         Here, Mr. Craig has not sufficiently demonstrated that the jury's verdict requires that he be placed in a dual hat role. The jury determined that Mr. Craig's “placement and treatment . . . in the role of Executive Lead was retaliatory.” Jury Verdict at 1. In making this determination, as Mr. Craig notes, Reply Mem. Supp. Partial Inj. Mot. (“Partial Inj. Reply”) at 2, ECF No. 114, the jury was instructed to determine whether Mr. Craig's placement “significantly affect[ed] [Mr. Craig's] supervisory authority, programmatic responsibilities, or future employment opportunities or career prospects.” Jury Preamble at 18 (emphasis added), ECF No. 98. Put another way, the jury determined that Mr. Craig's retaliatory detail from an Associate Director position to the Executive Lead position harmed him by depriving him of certain authority and responsibilities that he enjoyed as an Associate Director, or by depriving him of career opportunities that he would have otherwise received as an Associate Director. The jury did not determine, as Mr. Craig would have this Court conclude, that Mr. Craig was retaliated against because he was deprived of “career-enhancing” dual hat details or assignments, but rather because he was deprived of an Associate Director role overseeing a single Mint unit.[6] See Partial Inj. Mot. at 14; Partial Inj. Reply at 4. Mr. Craig points to no evidence, and the record does not indicate, that the jury's verdict depended on Mr. Craig's entitlement to a dual hat assignment.[7]

         However, just because the jury did not consider whether Mr. Craig would have received a dual hat role but for the Mint's retaliation does not mean that the Court cannot grant such relief. As Mr. Craig notes, Partial Inj. Reply at 8-9, “a district court which endeavors to fashion a remedy for discrimination cannot confine itself to narrow or technical measures which, while perhaps bearing a logical connection to the plaintiff's complaint, fail to reflect the whole of the plaintiff's injury.” Brown, 713 F.Supp. at 22. In attempting to “recreate the conditions and relationships that would have been” in the absence of the Mint's retaliation against Mr. Craig, Berger, 170 F.3d at 1119 (quoting Teamsters, 431 U.S. at 372), the Court may look beyond the jury's verdict to place Mr. Craig on the career path he would have followed had he remained in an Associate Director role. That said, while the Court may “engage in some speculation” in granting equitable relief, Mr. Craig's assertion that he would have received a dual hat assignment but for the Mint's retaliation is overly speculative. Barbour v. Merrill, 48 F.3d 1270, 1280 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

         Mr. Craig argues that because certain SES members-specifically David Croft, Marc Landry, and Jon Cameron-received dual hat Mint assignments while Mr. Craig was assigned to the Executive Lead position, Mr. Craig would have received a dual hat assignment if he remained in an Associate Director position. Partial Inj. Mot. at 10-13. However, Mr. Craig fails to provide evidence that those individuals were similarly situated to him, other than through their common SES membership.[8] The record indicates that those individuals occupied different Mint roles than Mr. Craig, had different levels of experience, and had different skill sets. For instance, both Mr. Croft and Mr. Landry spent several years managing the Mint's Denver and Philadelphia manufacturing facilities, respectively, before their stints as A/D Manufacturing; experience that Mr. Craig lacked. See Organizational Announcement at 1, ECF No. 110-16; 2012-2016 Mint Organizational Charts at 1, ECF No. 110-22. Similarly, Mr. Cameron had decades of managerial and financial experience in the United States Federal Reserve before moving to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and then the Mint, where he occupied different roles than Mr. Craig.[9]See Dep. of Jon Cameron at 22:20-33:12, ECF No. 112-5. These individuals' paths are therefore “not helpful in projecting what [Mr. Craig's] career path would have been absent unlawful retaliation.” Lloyd, 2010 WL 1999657, at *3; see also Barbour, 48 F.3d at 1278 (declining to award a Title VII plaintiff back pay based on the salary of the individual hired in the plaintiff's stead, because that individual's background justified a higher salary than the plaintiff's).

         Mr. Craig also more generally asserts that dual hat assignments were “afforded to other Associate Directors who did not engage in protected EEO activity, ” and he suggests that these assignments were given as a matter of course because the Mint had more SES positions to fill than SES members to fill them. Partial Inj. Mot. at 14-15. However, while the record shows that certain SES members received dual hat assignments, see Organizational Announcement at 1 (announcing dual hat roles for Mr. Landry and Mr. Croft), and while dual hat assignments may improve an SES member's career prospects, Mr. Craig has not provided evidence indicating that such assignments were issued as a matter of course within the Mint. The record suggests that some SES members received dual hat assignments, and some did not. See 2012-2016 Mint Organizational Charts (listing Associate Directors, including Goutam Kundu, Marty Greiner, and Annie Brown, who do not appear to have occupied dual hat assignments). Therefore, at most, Mr. Craig has demonstrated that “if he had had the opportunities which were denied him, [he] might have” received a dual hat assignment. Lloyd, 2010 WL 1999657, at *3. But Mr. Craig might instead have followed the same path as the SES members who did not receive dual hat assignments.

         The Court finds the latter scenario more likely because, as Mr. Craig concedes, the only open Associate Director Mint position in 2012, when Mr. Craig was detailed from A/D SAM to the Executive Lead, was the A/D Manufacturing position. See Partial Inj. Reply Att. N at 2 n.1, ECF No. 114-2. Mr. Craig was denied assignment to that position in 2008 and denied reassignment to that position in 2014; denials that were found to be non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory. See Craig I, 109 F.Supp.3d at 284; Craig II, 278 F.Supp.3d at 76; Jury Verdict. Mr. Craig provides no evidence to suggest that the Mint would have detailed him into the A/D Manufacturing role in 2012 in a dual hat capacity, given that the Mint denied his application for assignment to that role four years earlier and would deny his application for reassignment to the role two years later.[10] Accordingly, the Court concludes that Mr. Craig's assertion that he would have received a dual hat assignment but for the Mint's retaliation is unduly speculative.[11] While Mr. Craig may well have received such an assignment had he remained an Associate Director, and while he may well receive one in the future on his own merit, the Court declines to “interfere with the policymaking and personnel decisions that rightly belong to public servants” without stronger record support.[12] Caudle v. District of Columbia, 825 F.Supp.2d 73, 80 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting Jones v. Rivers, 732 F.Supp. 176, 178 (D.D.C. 1990)).

         2. Anti-Retaliation Injunction

         Mr. Craig also requests that the Mint be enjoined from detailing him to a position with unclassified duties for more than 240 days. Inj. Mot. at 1. Mr. Craig contends that this anti-retaliation injunction is necessary to ensure “that he will not be placed at a competitive disadvantage because of the Mint's illegal actions.” Id. at 9. The government, on the other hand, argues that “[n]o basis in fact exists to suggest that such relief is necessary where [the government] has demonstrated a commitment to a fair assessment of Plaintiff's contributions and has awarded Plaintiff for his performance.” Def.'s Opp'n Inj. Mot. (“Inj. Opp'n”) at 8, ECF No. 125. The government again has the better of this argument.

         Absent more specific evidence that Mr. Craig is likely to again face retaliation, restricting the Mint's employment decisions going forward is not necessary to address Mr. Craig's harm. The Mint officials primarily responsible for the retaliatory decision to detail Mr. Craig to the Executive Lead position-Ms. Babers and Mr. Peterson-are no longer employed by the Mint. See 2018 Mint Organizational Charts, Inj. Mot. Att. A, ECF No. 110-2; 2012-2016 Mint Organizational Charts.[13] The Mint has a new permanent Director, who Mr. Craig acknowledges is likely to institute more transparent, competitive procedures for filling open SES positions. Inj. Mot. at 9. And Mr. Craig has received sterling performance reviews and SES performance bonuses since being reassigned to the A/D ESH position, a reassignment that occurred before Mr. Craig filed his lawsuit in this Court. See Inj. Opp'n at 8; Partial Inj. Opp'n Ex. A; Summ. J. Mot. Ex. 41, ECF No. 34-35 (announcing Mr. Craig's reassignment to the A/D ESH position on July 31, 2014); Compl. (filed Aug. 6, 2014), ECF No. 1. Mr. Craig has presented no record evidence to suggest that he will be retaliated against in the future.

         Rather than supplying record evidence, Mr. Craig relies extensively on the D.C. Circuit's opinion in Bundy v. Jackson and the District Court's opinion in Jean-Baptiste, but those cases are factually inapposite. The female plaintiff in Bundy was subjected to a pattern of sexual harassment by her supervisors as part of a “discriminatory environment”; a pattern of which the agency's director was aware. Bundy v. Jackson, 641 F.2d 934, 943-46 (D.C. Cir. 1981). In remanding the case for the District Court to impose injunctive relief, the Circuit noted that despite the fact that the plaintiff had not complained of harassment in six years, there was little certainty that the harassment would not resume “because [the plaintiff's] agency ha[d] taken no affirmative steps to prevent recurrence of the harassment, and because all the harassing employees still work[ed] for the agency.” Id. at 946 n.13. Similarly, the plaintiff in Jean-Baptiste was subjected to a pattern of harassment, and the District of Columbia took no proactive steps to address the plaintiff's injury until after the jury rendered a verdict, giving the court “significant concerns” that the plaintiff could face retaliation after being reinstated to her previous position. Jean-Baptiste, 958 F.Supp.2d at 51.

         Here, on the other hand, Mr. Craig did not demonstrate that he was subjected to a systemic discriminatory or retaliatory environment, and he was assigned to a more favorable position before he filed the action in this Court.[14] As another court in this District stated while denying a similar request for an anti-retaliation injunction, “[t]he Court will not presume that the [Mint] will not follow the law and plaintiff has not demonstrated that future violations are likely.” Hayes, 933 F.Supp. at 27 (citing E.E.O.C. v. General Lines, Inc., 865 F.2d 1555, 1565 (10th Cir. 1989)). Because the Court cannot conclude that there is a “reasonable expectation” that retaliation will reoccur, the Court declines to enjoin the Mint from detailing Mr. Craig to a position with unclassified duties for more than 240 days. Bundy, 641 F.2d at 946 n.13; see also Spencer v. General Elec. Co., 894 F.2d 651, 660 (4th Cir. 1990) (declining to award injunctive relief to Title VII plaintiff where the action involved “an isolated incident of one supervisor run amok, ” and the supervisor was no longer employed by the defendant) abrogated on other grounds by Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 13 (1992).[15]

         3. Declaratory Relief

         Mr. Craig also requests a declaration that the Mint retaliated against him, in violation of Title VII, by placing him in the Executive Lead position. Inj. Mot. at 1-2, 10. He claims that such relief is necessary to “ensure that defendant and its officials, management, and agents are given specific notice of the Mint's violation of Title VII.” Inj. Reply at 11. However, the jury's publicly available verdict already gives clear, specific notice of the Mint's violation. Jury Verdict (“[T]he Plaintiff has proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the Defendant's placement and treatment of Mr. Craig in the role of Executive Lead was retaliatory.”).[16] “The jury verdict is sufficient in and of itself to protect plaintiff against future acts of discrimination and retaliation, ” particularly where Mr. Craig has provided no evidence to suggest that declaratory relief is necessary to clarify the Court's ruling. Hayes, 933 F.Supp. at 27; see also Pitrolo v. Cty. of Buncombe, 589 Fed.Appx. 619, 629-30 (4th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (unreported) (holding that declaratory relief was inappropriate for a successful Title VII plaintiff where the declaration would not clarify an issue of law raised by the decision, would not clarify the parties' post-trial rights, and “would simply reiterate the jury's verdict”). Accordingly, the Court denies Mr. Craig's motion for declaratory relief.

         4. Record-Related Injunctive Relief

         Finally, Mr. Craig argues for personnel record-related relief. “The federal courts are empowered to order the expungement of Government records where necessary to vindicate rights secured by the Constitution or by statute.” Chastain v. Kelley, 510 F.2d 1232, 1235 (D.C. Cir. 1975). Such “[e]xpungement of personnel records constitutes equitable relief under Title VII.” Fogg, 407 F.Supp.2d at 87 (citing Smith v. Sec'y of the Navy, 659 F.2d 1113, 1114 (D.C. Cir. 1981)). Mr. Craig requests that (1) the Mint be required to expunge any reference to Mr. Craig's Executive Lead tenure from its official agency records, such that the records indicate that Mr. Craig was an Associate Director throughout the retaliation period; (2) for purposes of Mint personnel decisions, including future reassignments, training, and promotions, the Mint be required to treat Mr. Craig's Executive Lead position as an Associate Director-level position with Associate Director-level responsibilities and authority; and (3) for purposes of external, employment-related inquiries, the Mint be required to characterize Mr. Craig's Executive Lead position as an Associate Director-level position with Associate Director-level responsibilities and authority. Inj. Mot. at 1-2, 10.

         The government asserts that much of Mr. Craig's requested relief has already been implemented, but the government's assertions do not fully address Mr. Craig's harm and the government fails to provide record support for those assertions. For instance, the government claims that it “has never considered [Mr. Craig] as having left the SES, or as having performed non-SES duties at all relevant times; nor has [it] ever suggested that the Executive Lead role was not at the SES level.” Inj. Opp'n at 10. However, while the government may not consider the Executive Lead role to have been a non-SES role, when contemplating future personnel decisions the government could still consider the Executive Lead role to have been inferior to an Associate Director role, such as A/D SAM.[17] Similarly, while under Treasury policy Mr. Craig may have been “considered for pay and strength count purposes to [have been] permanently occupying” the A/D SAM position while detailed to the Executive Lead position, Inj. Opp'n Ex. E at 4, ECF No. 125-5, the government does not identify a policy requiring the Mint to consider Mr. Craig to have been the A/D SAM when contemplating future personnel decisions.[18]

         Furthermore, despite the government's characterization of Mr. Craig's request as “overbroad” and “unduly burdensome, ” the parties seem to agree that Mr. Craig's official personnel file should be altered to reflect that he occupied an Associate Director-level role during the retaliation period. See Inj. Mot. at 11; Inj. Opp'n at 11. The government proposes to expunge the document in Mr. Craig's electronic Official Personnel File that memorializes Mr. Craig's detail to the Executive Lead position-the “Standard Form 52 Initiation of / Request for Personnel Actions” (“SF-52”)-leaving only documentation suggesting that Mr. Craig occupied the A/D SAM position through 2014, when he was reassigned to the A/D ESH position. Id. Mr. Craig argues that his SF-52's, performance appraisals, and Performance Review Board materials in his Official Personnel File identifying him as Executive Lead should be expunged and replaced with documents identifying him as an Associate Director. Inj. Reply at 13. Mr. Craig's proposal is better crafted to address his harm because it includes the documents that Mint officials may consider when making promotion decisions in the future.

         Therefore, to “recreate the conditions and relationships that would have been” in the absence of the Mint's retaliation against Mr. Craig, Berger, 170 F.3d at 1119 (quoting Teamsters, 431 U.S. at 372), the Court exercises its equitable powers under Title VII to order the following personnel record-related relief. First, the Mint must treat Mr. Craig's Executive Lead position as an Associate Director-level position, with Associate Director-level responsibilities and authority, for purposes of both internal personnel decisions and external, employment-related inquiries.[19] Second, the Mint must alter the SF-52's, performance appraisals, and Performance Review Board materials in Mr. Craig's Official Personnel File so that they identify Mr. Craig as an Associate Director rather than as an Executive Lead.[20] Such relief is necessary, because allowing Mr. Craig's retaliatory detail to influence his future employment prospects “would be to diverge from the aim of Title VII equitable relief.” Fogg, 407 F.Supp.2d at 88 (ordering the Title VII defendant to expunge the plaintiff's discriminatory dismissal from its employment records); see also Hayes, 933 F.Supp. at 27 (ordering “that [the plaintiff's] personnel folder and other relevant Department records be corrected to reflect the jury's verdict and the equitable relief provided by the Court”). To ensure that the relief has been properly implemented, the Mint shall submit to Mr. Craig an updated version of Mr. Craig's Official Personnel File within thirty days from this Memorandum Opinion's issuance.

         B. Attorneys' Fees

         The Court next addresses Mr. Craig's motion for attorneys' fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). As noted, to receive attorneys' fees, Mr. Craig must establish that he is the prevailing party, and if he succeeds in establishing this element he must further establish (1) a reasonable hourly rate for his attorneys' services; (2) the number of hours reasonably expended by those attorneys on the litigation; and (3) whether a fee adjustment is warranted.[21] Salazar, 809 F.3d at 61. The parties agree that Mr. Craig is a prevailing party. See Fee Mot. at 39; Def.'s Opp'n Fee Mot. (“Fee Opp'n”) at 21, ECF No. 130. The parties do not agree, however, on the hourly rates that should govern the Court's fee determination or the overall reasonableness of the fees that Mr. Craig seeks.

         Mr. Craig has divided his attorneys' work into multiple stages, and he has applied different methodologies to those stages to reach the attorneys' fees he claims. First, for the litigation's administrative stage (the “EEO complaint stage”)-before the complaint was filed in this Court-Mr. Craig seeks fees for approximately 100 hours of work by his current counsel, Fee Mot. at 24, billed at the rates dictated by the fee matrix maintained and updated by the United States Attorney's Office (“USAO”) for the District of Columbia (the “USAO Matrix”), Fee Mot. at 1 n.2, reduced by 26.25 percent to account for Mr. Craig's lack of success, Fee Mot. at 27.

         Second, for the litigation's stage covering the filing of Mr. Craig's complaint in this Court through trial, Mr. Craig seeks fees for approximately 1, 607 hours of attorney work, Fee Mot. at 8, billed at the rates dictated by the Legal Services Index (“LSI”) Fee Matrix (the “Salazar/LSI Matrix”), [22] Fee Mot. at 1, then (1) reduced by fifteen percent to account for the difference between the billing rates reported by law firms and those firms' actual billing realization, Fee Mot. at 38 (citing Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. (“CREW”) v. DOJ, 80 F.Supp.3d 1, 5 (D.D.C. 2015)); (2) reduced to $750, 000 to bring the award in line with other awards recently received by Mr. Craig's counsel in successful Title VII actions, Fee Mot. at 9; and (3) reduced by 26.25 percent to account for Mr. Craig's lack of success, Fee Mot. at 10.

         Third, for the litigation's post-trial stage, Mr. Craig seeks fees as follows. Mr. Craig first seeks fees for approximately 130 hours spent on equitable relief briefing, Fee Mot. at 24; See Second Decl. of Robert C. Seldon (“Seldon Decl. II”) ¶ 57, ECF No. 134-1, billed at the USAO Matrix's rates, Fee Mot. at 1 n.2, with no additional reduction, Fee Mot. at 2. Mr. Craig next seeks fees for approximately 150 hours spent on attorneys' fees briefing, Fee Mot. at 24; Seldon Decl. II ¶ 57, billed at the USAO Matrix's rates, Fee Mot. at 1 n.2, with no additional reduction, Fee Mot. at 2.[23]

         Applying these methodologies, Mr. Craig seeks $43, 871.74 in attorneys' fees for work done at the EEO complaint stage by his current counsel, $13, 141.39 in fees for work done at the EEO complaint stage by his former counsel, $553, 125.00 in fees for work done from the filing of Mr. Craig's complaint through trial, $74, 660.30 in fees for work done at the equitable relief stage, and $87, 393.30 in fees for work done at the attorneys' fees stage. Fee Mot. at 2; Reply Mem. Supp. Fee Mot. (“Fee Reply”) at 27, ECF No. 134; Seldon Decl. II ¶ 57; Proposed Order, ECF No. 134-5. In total, Mr. Craig seeks $759, 050.34 in attorneys' fees for his current counsel, [24] $13, 141.39 in attorneys' fees for his former counsel, $11, 660.04 in costs, and $8, 853.20 for expert services. Fee Mot. at 2; Fee Reply at 27. The government contends that the fee award sought by Mr. Craig “is manifestly unreasonable” because (1) the award is based on “enhanced hourly rates not recognized by this Court as being superior to the [USAO] Matrix rates currently in effect”; (2) the award incorporates “an excessive number of hours billed”; and (3) the award does not account for Mr. Craig's “limited success and the minimal damages award obtained.” Fee Opp'n at 1. Applying the analytical framework laid out above, the Court agrees that Mr. Craig's proposed fees are unreasonably high, and it reduces those fees accordingly.

         1. Reasonable Hourly Rate

         First, the Court must determine the “reasonable hourly rate” applicable to Mr. Craig's attorneys' services. As noted, in determining whether Mr. Craig's proposed hourly rate is reasonable, the Court must consider: (1) his attorneys' billing practices; (2) his attorneys' skills, experience, and reputation; and (3) the prevailing market rate in Washington, D.C. See Salazar, 809 F.3d at 62. Mr. Craig has submitted a declaration from Mr. Seldon describing in great detail (1) Mr. Seldon's extensive experience litigating complex federal cases at his current firm, at the United States Attorney's Office, and at other organizations; (2) the skills and experience of the other Seldon Bofinger attorneys who participated in this action; and (3) Mr. Seldon's billing practices. See generally Decl. of Robert C. Seldon (“Seldon Decl. I”), ECF No. 121-2. Based on these representations, which the government does not dispute, see generally Fee Opp'n, the Court concludes ...


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