United States District Court, District of Columbia
Richard A. FIGUEROA, Plaintiff,
Michael R. POMPEO, Secretary, U.S. Department of State, Defendant.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Richard A. Figueroa, Washington, DC, pro se.
Igo Pelly Frenkel, James Miller Rosenthal, Jaclyn Delligatti,
Wilkinson Walsh Eskovitz, PLLC, Washington, DC, for
Patrick Schaefer, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC,
R. COOPER, United States District Judge.
Richard Figueroa believes that, but for his Hispanic
heritage, he would have been promoted by the State Department
rather than forced into mandatory retirement. He filed suit
in 2016 against the Department, advancing claims under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for both disparate
treatment and disparate impact. After the parties conducted
discovery regarding those claims, both moved for summary
judgment in 2017. In a January 2018 decision, this Court
sided with the State Department. That decision concluded,
with respect to the disparate treatment claim, that Figueroa
had not produced evidence to rebut the Department's
proffered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for denying
his promotion. Figueroa v. Tillerson, 289 F.Supp.3d
212, 224-28 (D.D.C. 2018). It further held that Figeuroa had
failed to establish a prima facie case of disparate
impact. Id. at 228-30.
D.C. Circuit, in May 2019, affirmed in part, reversed in
part, and vacated in part. Figueroa v. Pompeo, 923
F.3d 1078 (D.C. Cir. 2019). Although it agreed that
Figueroa's disparate impact claim lacked merit,
id. at 1086, it determined that the Department's
claimed nondiscriminatory reason for denying Figueroa a
promotion was so vague that it denied him the opportunity to
meaningfully rebut it, id. at 1094-95. Accordingly,
the Circuit reversed the portion of this Court's order
granting summary judgment to the Department on Figueroa's
disparate treatment claim and revived Figueroa's
cross-motion for summary judgment with respect to that claim
for fresh consideration. Because the Court now concludes that
Figueroa has established a prima facie case of
disparate treatment, and because the Circuit has determined
that the Department failed to rebut that case by providing a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for denying his
promotion, the Court will enter summary judgment on that
claim in Figueroa's favor.
first ruling on the parties' motions for summary
judgment, the Court described in detail the State
Department's promotion process. Figueroa, 289
F.Supp.3d at 215-18. Because the intricacies of that process
are no longer at issue—and the focus is now
exclusively on whether Figueroa has established a prima
facie case of disparate treatment—the Court
elides that description here. Readers interested in a more
comprehensive background may refer to the Court's prior
a Hispanic man born in Puerto Rico, began working at the
Department of State in March 1986 in the political cone. Def.
Mot. Summ. J., Ex. B ("Figueroa Dep."), at 6:3-4.
Figueroa was first appointed at the FS-05 level, serving
overseas with an initial assignment in Madrid, Spain.
Id. at 6:10-11. He was administratively promoted
from FS-05 to FS-04 in 1988 and up to the FS-02 level by
1997. Id. at 6:16-25.
was first eligible to be promoted to the FS-01 level in 2000,
but he was low-ranked by the selection boards in both 2000
and 2001. Id. at 25:20-26:2. He was then mid-ranked
the next two years, in 2002 and 2003. Def. Mot. Summ. J., Ex.
D ("Pierangelo Dep."), at 128:20-129:2, 130:11-13.
In 2004, Figueroa was recommended for promotion and ranked
79th out of the 87 employees eligible that year. Id.
at 130:20-131:2. But, he ultimately did not receive a
promotion because only 43 promotions were awarded in 2004.
See Def. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. F, at DOS001043.
Similarly, Figueroa was recommended for promotion in 2005,
this time ranked 118th out of 141 eligible employees.
Pierangelo Dep. at 131:22-132:3. Again, though, Figueroa did
not receive a promotion because only 39 promotions were
awarded that year. See Def.'s MSJ, Ex. F, at
DOS001043. In 2006 through 2009, Figueroa was again
mid-ranked and not ultimately promoted each year. Pierangelo