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Daniels v. Chugach Government Services, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 21, 2019

JOHN DANIELS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHUGACH GOVERNMENT SERVICES, INC. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is defendant Chugach Government Services Incorporated's (“CGSI”) motion for summary judgment on plaintiff John Daniels' claim of discrimination under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. Mr. Daniels alleges discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry and ethnic considerations under Section 1981 based on CGSI's failure to select him for a Senior IT Administrator position both when the position was posted in September 2011 and when it was reposted in November of 2011. CGSI moves for summary judgment, arguing that Mr. Daniels has failed to rebut its legitimate reasons for not selecting him for the position and, in the alternative, failed to provide any evidence that supports a finding of intentional discrimination. Upon consideration of the motion, the response and reply thereto, the applicable law, and the entire record, CGSI's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Background [1]

         Plaintiff John Daniels emigrated from Africa, and, in October of 2009, began working for CGSI at its Potomac Job Corps Center as a Systems Administrator. See Def.'s Supplemental Statement of Undisputed Facts (“SOF”), ECF No. 32-2 ¶ 1; see also Pl.'s SOF, ECF No. 33-4. In 2011, CGSI announced that it was consolidating its Systems Administrator and Lead Systems Administrator positions into one position, the Senior Information Technology (“IT”) Administrator position. Def.'s SOF, ECF No. 32-2 ¶ 2. CGSI notified Mr. Daniels that due to the reorganization, the position he currently held would no longer be funded and that his layoff would be effective November 2011. Id. ¶ 3. CGSI also notified Mr. Daniels that he could apply for other available positions as long as he was qualified. Id.

         CGSI posted a Senior IT Administrator position on September 13, 2011. Id. ¶ 4. CGSI advertised this position and posted the opening on the Chugach Job Board. Id. ¶ 32. The mandatory requirements for the position included a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and “at least three years experience[] preferred and demonstrated knowledge of setup, problem resolution, network support, etc., related to computer hardware and software; and providing assistance to users.” CGSI Job Description, ECF No. 32-6 at 4. Mr. Daniels and two other individuals, Andy Berhe and Keith Lucas, applied for the position. Def.'s SOF, ECF No. 32-2 ¶ 6. All three men were interviewed by two CGSI Human Resource employees and were scored on a scale of 0-28. Id. ¶¶ 7-12. Mr. Berhe received scores of 20 and 21 out of 28. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Mr. Daniels received scores of 21 and 22 out of 28. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. Mr. Lucas received the highest scores by both interviewers, 25 and 26 out of 28. Id. ¶¶ 9-10.

         Mr. Daniels and Mr. Lucas advanced in the selection process and proceeded to a final interview with Leslie Neloms, the Director of Finance and Administration. Id. ¶ 13. Ms. Neloms had the ultimate hiring authority for the Senior IT Administrator position. Id. ¶ 14. Ms. Neloms interviewed Mr. Lucas at the end of September 2011 and considered him to be a strong candidate. Id. ¶ 15. Specifically, Ms. Neloms was impressed by his many years of experience in the IT Field. Id. Mr. Lucas had at least ten more years of relevant experience in the IT Field than Mr. Daniels, id. ¶ 21, and had received higher scores based on the initial round of interviews, id. ¶ 22. It is undisputed that Ms. Neloms, at the time she selected Mr. Lucas for the position, did not realize that he did not have a Bachelor's degree, one of the mandatory requirements for the job. Decl. of Leslie Neloms (“Neloms Decl.”), ECF No. 32-13 ¶¶ 7-9. When Ms. Neloms was deciding between Mr. Daniels and Mr. Lucas for the position, “race, ancestry, and national origin did not have any bearing on her decision.” Def.'s SOF, ECF No. 32-2 ¶ 19. Mr. Daniels does not dispute this assertion. Compare Id. with Pl.'s SOF, ECF No. 33-4 ¶ 19. (admitting that Ms. Neloms did not take into account national origin in her hiring decisions).

         Mr. Lucas was notified that he had been selected for the position on October 6, 2011 but was terminated shortly “thereafter for reasons unrelated to his qualifications”. Def.'s SOF, ECF No. 32-2 ¶ 24. Mr. Daniels was made Acting Senior IT Administrator in November of 2011. Id. ¶ 25. Also in November 2011, CGSI reposted the Senior IT Administrator position. Id. ¶ 27. CGSI posted the opening on the Chugach Job Board. Id. ¶ 28. At the time of the posting, Mr. Daniels was aware of how to check the Chugach Job Board and had access to the Job Board. Id. ¶ 30. Mr. Daniels had checked the Job Board prior to November 2011, and used the Job Board in September of 2011 when he submitted his resume for the first Senior IT Administrator posting. Id. ¶¶ 31-32. Mr. Daniels did not check to see if the Senior IT Administrator position was posted a second time, and never applied for the November 2011 Senior IT Administrator position. Id. ¶¶ 35-36.

         CGSI interviewed multiple individuals for the November 2011 posting of the Senior IT Administrator position. Id. ¶ 37. Justin Thomas, an African-American man, applied for the position on January 8, 2012, by submitting his application online. Id. ¶ 38. Mr. Thomas participated in a telephone interview for the position on January 25, 2012, and was hired on February 3, 2012. Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Mr. Daniels was terminated from his acting position and he was offered a position as Substitute Instructor.[2]Id. ¶ 42.

         Mr. Daniels filed an administrative complaint with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (“OFCCP”) alleging that CGSI violated Executive Order 11246. OFCCP Compl., ECF No. 30-2 at 7. EO 11246 prohibits government contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. See Executive Action 11246, available at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/statutes/eo11246.htm. In his complaint, Mr. Daniels alleged that CGSI violated EO 11246 by failing to hire him over a less qualified candidate. See OFCCP Compl., ECF No. 30-2 at 7. The OFCCP agreed and stated that CGSI “violated Executive Order 11246 when it hired the Selected Candidate, who did not meet the minimum requirements for the position, over the Complainant.” Id. at 11. Specifically, the OFCCP found that the selected candidate did not meet one of the mandatory requirements for the Senior IT Administrator position which was a Bachelor's degree or higher. Id. at 9. OFCCP further explained that CGSI stated that selected candidate provided conflicting information about this requirement, and that Ms. Neloms did not catch the significance of the candidate's education in relation to the mandatory requirements. Id. at 10. Ms. Neloms stated that the candidate should not have been considered. Id. OFCCP found that the “Selected Candidate was hired without meeting the minimum qualifications and over a more qualified applicant, the Complainant.” Id.

         Thereafter, Mr. Daniels brought this suit alleging several claims against CGSI. See generally, Amended Compl., ECF No. 13. This Court granted in part CGSI's motion to dismiss, and the sole claim that remains is the Section 1981 claim for intentional discrimination. See Daniels v. Chugach Government Serv.'s, Inc., 149 F.Supp.3d 183 (D.D.C 2016). The parties have engaged in discovery pursuant to this Court's scheduling order issued September 22, 2016. See ECF No. 23. CGSI served interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions on December 9, 2016. See Pl.'s Mot. To Withdraw Admissions (“Mot. to Withdraw”), ECF No. 25. Mr. Daniels, for his part, served interrogatories and requests for production of documents, but did not seek to depose any potential witnesses. Id. Mr. Daniels also failed to respond to CGSI's request for admissions, interrogatories, and production of documents in a timely manner.[3] Id.

         CGSI filed a motion for summary judgment prior to the completion of discovery, Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 28, and subsequently filed a supplemental motion for summary judgment after discovery closed, Def.'s Supp. Mot., ECF No. 32. Mr. Daniels has opposed both motions, Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 30; Pl.'s Supp. Opp'n, ECF No. 33, and the motions are ripe for adjudication.

         II. Legal Standard

         A court may grant summary judgment when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A “material” fact is one capable of affecting the substantive outcome of the litigation. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute is “genuine” if there is enough evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmovant. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         When faced with a motion for summary judgment, the district court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence; instead, the evidence must be analyzed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, with all justifiable inferences drawn in his favor. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255. If material facts are genuinely in dispute, or undisputed facts are susceptible to divergent yet justifiable inferences, summary judgment is inappropriate. Moore v. Hartman, 571 F.3d 62, 66 (D.C. Cir. 2009). In the end, the district court's task is to determine “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52 (internal quotation marks omitted). In this regard, the non-movant must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); “[i]f the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted).

         III. Analysis

         Section 1981 prohibits racial discrimination in the “making, performance, modification, and termination of contracts” and protects classes of persons from intentional discrimination based on their ancestry or ethnic characteristics. 42 U.S.C. § 1981(b); St. Francis College v. Al- Khazraji, 481 U.S. 604, 613 (1987)(defining race as used in § 1981 as including ancestry and ethnicity claims). To establish a claim under Section 1981, a plaintiff must show that (1) he is a member of a racial minority group; (2) the defendant intended to discriminate on the basis of race; and (3) the discrimination pertained to one of the activities enumerated in the statute. Dickerson v. District of Columbia, 806 F.Supp.2d 116, 119 (D.D.C. 2011). A successful Section 1981 claim alleges discrimination ...


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