United States District Court, District of Columbia
MARCUS C. GASKINS, Plaintiff,
KEVIN J. MCINTYRE, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Defendant.
P. MEHTA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Marcus Gaskins is a former engineering student intern at
Defendant Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or
Commission). Def.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Material
Facts, ECF 24-1 [hereinafter Def.'s Facts], ¶ 1.
Plaintiff contends that the Commission discriminated against
him on the basis of race (African-American) when it decided
not to hire him following the end of his internship. Compl.,
ECF 1 [hereinafter Compl.], at 4, 10. He also contends that the
Commission retaliated against him for reporting his concerns
to the Commission's Equal Employment Office. Compl. at 4.
He seeks over $21 million in relief for these alleged
violations. Id. at 6. The Commission responds that
it was under no obligation to hire Plaintiff, that there was
no open position for which he was qualified, and that in any
event Plaintiff's poor performance justified not
extending him a full-time position. Def.'s Mot. for Summ.
J., ECF 24 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.] at 3-6.
court accepts as true all facts asserted by the Commission,
as Plaintiff did not file a statement of genuine issues of
fact in opposition to the Commission's motion.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2); LCvR 7(h)(1); see
also Winston & Strawn, LLP v. McLean, 843 F.3d 503,
508 (D.C. Cir. 2016). See also Fox Neal Order, ECF.
No. 25 (explaining that the Commission's facts would be
taken as true unless Plaintiff disputed them). For the
reasons that follow, the court grants summary judgment in
favor of the Commission as to all claims.
court first addresses Plaintiff's contention that his
supervisors at the Commission discriminated against him by
declining to “convert” him from intern to
permanent employee. See generally Compl. The record
is undisputed that, although Plaintiff was eligible to be
hired full time when his internship ended, the Commission was
under no obligation to do so. Def.'s Facts ¶ 5
(“Plaintiff's [internship] agreement . . .
specif[ies] that ‘eligibility for conversion does not
guarantee the Agency will opt for conversion.'”).
The Commission thus argues that, because Plaintiff was not
entitled to a permanent position at FERC following his
internship, it took no “adverse action” against
him. Def.'s Mot. at 3-4. That argument, however,
construes Plaintiff's claim too narrowly. Properly
understood, his claim is for failure to hire, see
Compl. at 4, and non-selection clearly constitutes an adverse
action. The court therefore views Plaintiff's claim
through that legal framework.
out a prima facie case for failure to hire under Title VII,
Plaintiff must show that (1) he belongs to a protected class,
(2) he applied to and was qualified for an available
position, (3) he was rejected despite his qualifications, and
(4) after his rejection, the position remained open and the
employer continued to seek applications. See McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1993);
accord Teneyck v. Omni Shoreham Hotel, 365 F.3d
1139, 1149-50 (D.C.
2004). At summary judgment, however, where an employer
provides a non-discriminatory reason for its decision,
“the question whether the employee actually made out a
prima facie case is ‘no longer relevant[.]'”
Brady v. Office of Sergeant at Arms, 520 F.3d 490,
493 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Instead, the court must ask
“whether the employee produced sufficient evidence . .
. to find that the employer's asserted nondiscriminatory
. . . reason was not the actual reason.” Walker v.
Johnson, 798 F.3d 1085, 1092 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Here, the Commission provides two
primary justifications for not hiring Plaintiff: (1) there
were no available positions for engineers in Plaintiff's
Branch, and (2) Plaintiff's poor performance record
disqualified him had there been open positions. Because
Plaintiff does not offer any evidence to contradict the first
reason, the court need not reach the second.
Commission offers unrebutted evidence that there were
no available engineering positions within
Plaintiff's Branch at the time his internship expired,
and that his supervisor informed Plaintiff of this fact.
Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 14, 15; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 6,
ECF No. 24-7. Moreover, the record shows that the Commission
did not convert any interns to full-time positions
within Plaintiff's office. Def.'s Facts ¶ 18;
Def.'s Reply, ECF No. 36 [hereinafter Def.'s Reply]
at 5. Plaintiff offers no evidence in response. His Complaint
alludes to another intern, Ryan Stertz, who is white, and
alleges that he was “converted” to a full-time
position, see Compl. at 21-22, but mere allegations
will not suffice to defeat summary judgment.
because Plaintiff has come forward with no evidence that
would rebut the Commission's non-discriminatory reason
for not converting him to a full-time position, judgment is
entered in the Commission's favor on Plaintiff's
disparate treatment claim.
the court turns to Plaintiff's claim of retaliation.
See, e.g. Compl. at 4, 12. Once more, the Commission
is entitled to summary judgment, as Plaintiff offers no
evidence to rebut the agency's non-discriminatory reason
for not converting him to a full-time position. Nor is timing
on Plaintiff's side. Plaintiff filed his EEO complaint on
August 12, 2013. Def.'s Facts ¶ 19. His supervisor
informed him that he would not be converted to a full-time
position on April 25, 2014. See Def.'s Ex. 6.
Thus, over nine months passed between Plaintiff's
protected activity and the claimed adverse action. This is
simply too long a period to provide a reasonable inference of
discrimination. Cf. Woodruff v. Peters, 482 F.3d
521, 529 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (“Temporal proximity can
indeed support an inference of causation, but only where the
two events are ‘very close' in time.”)
(internal citations omitted); Singletary v. District of
Columbia, 351 F.3d 519, 525 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (whether
causal connection existed where one month separated adverse
action and the filing of plaintiff's appeal for
employment discrimination was question for finder of
foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment is granted as to all claims. A separate final ...