United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. MCFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
Lewis works at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 2011,
she and another Treasury employee, Evin Gossin, applied for a
promotion. He was selected; she was not. Ms. Lewis now brings
this case against Steven Mnuchin in his official capacity as
Secretary of the Treasury, alleging that the Department's
decision to promote Mr. Gossin and not her was based on
unlawful race and gender discrimination. The Court disagrees,
finding that Mr. Gossin was chosen because of his performance
evaluations, qualifications, and superior application scores.
Because there are no genuine issues of material fact, and
because he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the
Court will grant Secretary Mnuchin summary judgment.
in 2002, Ms. Lewis worked as a Personnel Security Technician
in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Second Am.
Compl. 2. She “performed her duties in a satisfactory
manner and received satisfactory performance
evaluations.” Id. at 3. Her direct supervisor
was Ron Shelden, a Caucasian man. Id. She is African
Shelden evaluated Ms. Lewis's performance annually. These
evaluations consisted of numerical ratings of six
“Skill Elements, ” an overall summary score, and
narrative comments. See Def.'s Ex. 10, ECF No.
23-1 at 80-82. The Skill Elements assessed, among other
things, an employee's teamwork, administrative knowledge,
and organizational, technical, and communication skills.
Id. Each Element was assigned a rating ranging from
one to four points, with four being the best possible score.
Overall performance was also rated on the four-point scale.
Fiscal Year 2010, Mr. Shelden assigned Ms. Lewis an overall
score of three. Id. at 81. She also received a score
of three for each of the Skill Elements. Id. In his
narrative remarks, Mr. Shelden noted that Ms. Lewis
“consistently demonstrated professionalism and
established effective working relationships with management,
employees, peers, and external customers . . . .”
Id. at 82. He added that she “made solid
contribution[s]” to the team, and he praised her for
“exhibit[ing] significant growth during this appraisal
Fiscal Year 2011, Mr. Shelden again assigned a rating of
three to Ms. Lewis's overall performance. See
Def.'s Ex. 3, ECF No. 23-1 at 31. She scored a three on five
of the Skill Elements. Def.'s Ex. 12, ECF No. 23-1 at
104. For the sixth element, Communications and Interpersonal
Skills, she received the maximum score of four. Mr. Shelden
described the year as “very challenging” for the
Office. Id. at 105. He stated that Ms. Lewis
“met the many challenges this year presented” and
“perform[ed] her job in a productive manner . . .
.” Id. Another reviewer, Ron Bell,
complimented her “pleasant and effective customer
satisfaction skills, ” and described her as
“conscientious in her work.” Id.
Gossin, a Caucasian male, was also a Security Technician
supervised by Mr. Shelden. Second Am. Compl. 3. Like Ms.
Lewis, in Fiscal Year 2010, Mr. Gossin received an overall
performance score of three. Def.'s Ex. 11, ECF No. 23-1
at 92. But unlike her, on all but two of the Skill Elements,
he received the maximum score of four. Id. In his
narrative comments, Mr. Shelden wrote that Mr. Gossin
“continues to distinguish himself as an integral
part” of the team, adding that his “skill sets
and initiative are invaluable.” Id. at 94. He
also described Mr. Gossin as “an outstanding
contributing member” of the office. Id.
Fiscal Year 2011, Mr. Gossin received an overall performance
score of four. Def.'s Ex. 13, ECF No. 23-1 at 117. He
also received fours on five out of the six Skill Elements.
Id. Mr. Shelden noted that Mr. Gossin was
“instrumental” to the team's success during a
difficult year, and that he “perform[ed] his job in a
highly efficient and effective manner.” Id. at
118. Mr. Bell added that Mr. Gossin was a
“self-starter, quick study, and [was] always ready to
volunteer to take on additional tasks, particularly in an
effort to learn a new skill or new program.”
Gossin's performance led Roger Mahach, Mr. Shelden's
supervisor, to explore the possibility of promoting him. Mr.
Mahach asked the human resources department
(“HR”) to “conduct a desk audit of Mr.
Gossin, ” who he believed “was doing work that
was above his NB-IV [pay] grade.” Def.'s Ex. 2, ECF
No. 23-1 at 14. Noting that there were multiple employees
with Mr. Gossin's job title and pay grade, HR recommended
that “we should announce the position to give all a
fair chance for promotion.” Id.
position-Security Specialist with a higher NB-V pay grade-was
then publicly announced. See Def.'s Ex. 14, ECF
No. 23-1 at 129. Both Ms. Lewis and Mr. Gossin applied. HR
certified that both candidates were “highly
qualified” and sent their applications to Mr. Mahach,
the office's designated “selecting official.”
Pl.'s Ex. B, ECF. No. 26-1 at 35-36. Because there were
fewer than ten qualified applicants for the position, HR told
Mr. Mahach that he had three selection options: HR could rank
the applicants, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) could rank the
applicants, or Mr. Mahach could conduct interviews himself.
Id. at 36. He chose the second option. Id.
SMEs, Mr. Shelden and D'Mona Boykin, participated in an
application ranking panel. Id. Ms. Boykin, an
African-American female, was an IT Specialist in the Security
and Compliance Services unit. Def.'s Ex. 8, ECF No. 23-1
at 70. She and Mr. Shelden evaluated the candidates'
resumes and their knowledge, skills, and abilities
(“KSAs”). Id. at 71. These materials
were evaluated using assessment questions drawn from the job
Boykin awarded Ms. Lewis's application a score of 12 out
of 18. Id. She awarded Mr. Gossin's application
the maximum possible score of 18. Id. at 72. One
factor that “weighed heavily” in his favor, she
explained, was his training in Lean Six Sigma, a process
improvement methodology. Id. While Mr. Gossin was
“working on his black belt, ” Ms. Lewis had not
yet been awarded the lower “green belt”
certification. Id. Ms. Boykin also noted that Mr.
Gossin's resume “identified a number of
accomplishments that he had achieved in his tenure with [the
office] and elsewhere.” Id. He “provided
examples as to how he accomplished” these achievements.
Id. By contrast, Ms. Lewis “said that she did
some things, but did not explain how she accomplished
Shelden also ranked Mr. Gossin higher. He awarded Ms.
Lewis's application a score of ten and Mr. Gossin's a
score of 18. Def.'s Ex. 9, ECF No. 23-1 at 76. He noted
that Mr. Gossin “[s]howed evidence of fully meeting the
requirements of each assessment question.” Id.
Ms. Lewis, however, “showed no evidence of emergency
management program or information security program
experience.” Id. He also highlighted her lack
of a Lean Six Sigma “Greenbelt or Blackbelt