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Newell v. Mnuchin

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 13, 2020

TRACY R. NEWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVEN T. MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On December 12, 2017, U.S Department of the Treasury employee Tracy Newell brought this employment discrimination action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., as amended (“Title VII”). Ms. Newell alleges that she was discriminated against on account of race (African American) and sex (female), retaliated against due to her prior Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) activity, and subjected to a hostile work environment by the sexual harassment of her white, male coworkers.[1] More specifically, Ms. Newell contends that she was subjected to “different and disparate conditions” due to her race and gender/sex, and that, when “she complained [about] her disparate treatment, Defendant retaliated by demoting her” in 2014. Compl. 1; see also id. ¶ 9. She further avers that “this retaliation continued” when her employer “denied [her] a bonus, denied the opportunity to take a leadership development training class, ” and “promot[ed] at least two less qualified co-workers who did not have to compete for the supervisory position [that Ms.] Newell had applied for.” Id. at 1. Defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims, arguing, first, that Ms. Newell failed to timely and properly exhaust her administrative remedies for her claims of retaliation and non-selection for a supervisory position; second, that Defendant has put forth a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for her 2014 reassignment; and finally, that the alleged incidents do not constitute an actionable hostile work environment claim. See Def.'s Mem. Supporting Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.'s Mem.”) 1-4. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant's motion for summary judgment on all claims.[2]

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual History[3]

         Ms. Newell's claims involve several categories of activity occurring between 2012 and 2017. The Court will summarize each of these categories in turn, beginning with the events surrounding Plaintiff's removal from a Temporary Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor position in March 2014; then describing the events that give rise to Plaintiff's harassment and hostile work environment claims; and then concluding with the events surrounding Plaintiff's 2017 non-selection claim and subsequent claims of discrimination and retaliation.

         1. 2014 Reassignment

         Ms. Newell began working in the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (“BEP”) in 1987 and has held several positions in the BEP since that time. See Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts (“SMF”) 2, ECF No. 19-1.[4] In 2004, she became a Plate Printer, a position in which she worked on the day shift and was directly supervised by Bob Smith. Id. at 3. In 2012, Ms. Newell applied for a Temporary Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor (“Temporary Assistant Supervisor”) position. Id. at 3. This position was advertised with the statement that it was a “temporary promotion not-to-exceed [‘NTE'] 1 year, ” id.; see also Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 13, Vacancy Announcement No. 2012-085M, ECF No. 19-15, which “may be made permanent without further competition, ” Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 13 at 1. With this temporary promotion, Ms. Newell switched to the evening shift and was directly supervised by Denita Simmons, with Mr. Smith now acting as her second-line supervisor. Pl.'s SMF 4.

         This one-year NTE temporary promotion was set to end on September 22, 2013. Id. at 5. However, Ms. Newell continued in this position until March 2014, id., when she was reassigned to her former Plate Printer position, effective March 31, 2014, id. at 7-8. The core facts concerning both Ms. Newell's time in this position between September 2013 and March 2014 and her March 2014 reassignment are disputed. Ms. Newell asserts that her position was made permanent after a one-year probationary period, in keeping with past BEP practices, such that her reassignment was a “demotion.” Id. at 7.

         Defendant asserts that there was no such permanent assignment and demotion, but rather a reassignment to her prior position once the temporary term ended. On this version of events, which Plaintiff contests, see generally Pl.'s SMF 3-9, Ms. Newell's managers extended her initial temporary assignment for six months (from September 23, 2013 to March 23, 2014) upon the approval of Patrick W. Zunker in the agency's human resources (“HR”) department, id. at 5. According to Defendant, Ms. Newell's supervisors attempted to further extend her temporary promotion in March 2014, but were informed by a new HR representative, Patricia Mendoza, that the prior extension of both Ms. Newell and another employee appointed to the same temporary vacancy at the same time, Richard Gibel, had been in error. Id. at 5-7. Because, on Ms. Mendoza's read, the governing provisions in 5 C.F.R. 335 prohibited an extension of these NTE positions beyond the advertised term (here, one year), id. at 7, Mr. Smith informed Plaintiff's direct supervisor, Ms. Simmons, that Ms. Newell would not be continuing in her temporary promotion. id. at 33. Defendant states that, based on this information, Ms. Newell was returned to her non-supervisory Plate Printer position on March 31, 2014.[5] Id. at 7. Mr. Gibel was also returned to his previously held position, Acting Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor, in late March 2014. Id. at 8-9. Two other male employees, Mr. Smith and Donovan Elliott, were also reassigned at this time. Id. at 8. Defendant states that these two individuals were in temporary promotional assignments and denied extensions by Ms. Mendoza on the same grounds as her denial of Ms. Newell's extension, id. at 8, whereupon Mr. Smith was returned to his position as Plate Printer Supervisor, effective April 6, 2014, id. at 9, and Mr. Elliott was returned to his position as Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor, effective April 25, 2014, id. at 9. Plaintiff disputes that these two individuals were in fact in temporary positions at the time of their reassignment. See id. at 8-9.

         On May 2, 2014, Ms. Newell initiated contact with an Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) counselor. See Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 33, EEO Counselor's Report 2, ECF No. 19-35. A formal EEO complaint was filed on June 2, 2014, id. at Ex. 34, ECF No. 19-36, and Ms. Newell's claim was accepted on June 13, 2014, id. at Ex. 38, EEO Acceptance Letter, ECF No. 19-40. The complaint accepted for investigation was “[w]hether Complainant was subjected to disparate treatment based on race (African-American), sex (female), and age (over 40) when she learned on March 31, 2014 that she was not made a permanent Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor and told to return to her former position as a Plate Printer.” EEO Acceptance Letter 1. As the Court next describes, Ms. Newell subsequently amended this complaint to include harassment and hostile work environment claims.

         2. Events Underlying 2014 Harassment and Hostile Work Environment Claims

         The sexual harassment and hostile work environment components of Plaintiff's complaint arise from several incidents involving co-workers and one incident involving a direct supervisor that occurred during and soon after Ms. Newell's time working as a Temporary Assistant Supervisor. These events are clustered in early 2014. First, while Ms. Newell was operating in her temporary supervisory capacity, she alleges that a male co-worker asked her to go to a strip club and to sexually engage with another female employee. Def.'s Exhibits in Support of Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.'s Exhibits”) Ex. 19, Sept. 12, 2014 Declaration of Tracy R. Newell (“Second Newell Decl.”), ECF No. 17-19; see also Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 45, Email to Dennis Wahkinney (documenting incident for EEO counselor), ECF No. 19-47. The individual in question was later identified as Plate Printer Peter Steormann. Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 44, Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s First Set of Interrogatories, ECF No. 17-44. In response, Ms. Newell states that she “told him [she] did not engage in that activity” and that she “did not appreciate him saying anything in that manner, ” Second Newell Decl. ¶¶ 48, 53, whereupon the male subordinate employee “apologized and said he was only joking, ” id. ¶¶ 49, 54. There were no witnesses to this interaction. Id. ¶ 52. However, Asa Soule, another Plate Printer, states that Peter Steormann also asked her to go to a strip club with him. Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 52, Declaration of Asa Soule 3, ECF No. 19-54. Ms. Newell adds that it was “not unusual” for male employees to approach and request “sexual favors under the guise of humor.” Second Newell Decl. ¶ 55. She suggests that such incidents were more frequent in February 2014, when she was also “referred to as ‘Baby' and ‘Honey'” by another individual and “touched on the buttock” by a third male. Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s First Set of Interrogatories ¶ 1. She also suggests that there was ongoing sexual behavior in the workplace and states that she observed two unnamed superiors engaging in such conduct on “several occasions” spanning “9 months in the year of 2013 and 2 months in the year 2014.” Second Newell Decl. ¶¶ 60-61. Ms. Simmons, Plaintiff's immediate supervisor, avers that Ms. Newell never informed her of these incidents. Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 11, Declaration of Denita Simmons (“Simmons Decl.”) 12-13, ECF No. 17-11. Ms. Newell declined to escalate the matter. Id. Mr. Smith also states that he was unaware of these incidents. Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 12, March 14, 2019 Declaration of Robert E. Smith (“Third Smith Decl.”) ¶ 44, ECF No. 17-12.

         The next incident occurred on or about February 21, 2014, [6] when a male co-worker, Dennis Dunn, approached Ms. Newell at work. Id. ¶ 2.[7] There were no direct witnesses to this event. See Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 6, EEO Investigative File Bates No. 00020-00022, ECF No. 17-6. According to Ms. Newell, Mr. Dunn was “agitated about work related issues” and approached Ms. Newell, “became very aggressive, ” and then proceeded to refer to to Ms. Newell as an “idiot.” Second Newell Decl. 9. Because she was “afraid of him, ” Ms. Newell did not speak with Mr. Dunn and instead reported the incident to her direct supervisor, Ms. Simmons. Id. at 10. Ms. Simmons in turn went to speak with Mr. Dunn, who was “extremely agitated, ” and “told him that he needed a cooling down period.” Simmons Decl. 8.

         The incident was then further escalated internally. Ms. Simmons raised the incident to Mr. Smith, her supervisor, as well as to the agency's Employee Labor-Management Relations Division (“EMLRD”). Id.; see also Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 12-C, Email Chain between Denita Simmons, Bob Smith, and ELMRD Representative, ECF No. 17-12. Mr. Smith and Ms. Simmons state that Mr. Dunn was disciplined for his behavior with a one-day suspension and assignment of a required anger management class. Third Smith Decl. ¶ 14. Ms. Newell maintains that Mr. Dunn was never required to serve his suspension. Pl.'s SMF 33 (citing Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 27, Dunn Statement of Earnings and Leave, ECF No. 19-29).

         The next event on which Plaintiff bases her hostile work environment and harassment claims also involves Ms. Newell and Mr. Dunn. On March 27, 2014, both individuals as well Mr. Smith, Ms. Simmons, and Union Representative Josh Goad were present at a meeting to address the earlier incident between Ms. Newell and Mr. Dunn.[8] Ms. Newell alleges that Mr. Dunn accused her of having an affair with a co-worker during this meeting. Pl.'s SMF 10-11. Other individuals present at the meeting have different recollections of this event. Ms. Simmons recalls a comment about Plaintiff's relationship with a co-worker and Mr. Smith recalls “a vague remark about Plaintiff and a co-worker that Dunn had a separate issue with, ” which “did not come across to Smith as having a sexual connotation.” Id. at 11. Neither Ms. Smith nor Ms. Simmons believed that the comment warranted any discipline or further action. Id.

         In further support of these claims, Plaintiff points to a separate conflict on May 19, 2014, after her reassignment to Plate Printer. On this date, a co-worker, Charles Wheelock, raised his voice at Ms. Newell and “treated her in a hostile manner” following a dispute at the printing presses concerning an overtime schedule. Pl.'s SMF 13. A witness to the incident, employee Michael Nardozzi, characterized Mr. Wheelock as “loud and boisterous.” Id. (citing Def.'s Exs. Ex 20, Supervisors' Email Chain Regarding Wheelock Incident 2, ECF No. 17-20). Ms. Newell reported the incident to her direct supervisor at the time, James Riddick, who escalated the issue to his supervisor, Ms. Simmons. See Supervisors' Email Chain Regarding Wheelock Incident. Plaintiff also reported the issue to BEP security. Newell Decl. 6. Ms. Newell states that Mr. Wheelock “got counseled and was force[d] to stay a distance” away from her. Id. at 8. The agency's formal investigation concluded that the “supervisors took actions to separate the involved parties, ” and that Ms. Newell had “accepted the apology of the alleged aggressor and [was] satisfied with the working environment, ” such that no further administrative action was required to address the incident. Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 43, Report of Investigation 2, ECF No. 19-45; see also id. at Ex. 46, Memorandum Regarding Completed Investigation (indicating “NEWELL is satisfied with the actions taken”), ECF No. 19-48.

         Finally, Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim also involves a separate event with a supervisory official, Mr. Smith. On an unspecified date in March 2014, while Ms. Newell was still working on the night shift as a Temporary Assistant Supervisor, Mr. Smith-the day shift supervisor-stayed late to check in with shop floor employees. Pl.'s SMF 14-15. The parties' accounts of this evening diverge. Ms. Newell states that Mr. Smith held a segregated meeting that included only white males. Id. 15. Mr. Riddick, an Assistant Plate Printing Supervisor present on the floor, confirms that “there was a meeting and all white males were present, ” while “four black females and one black male in the room . . . were not made part of the meeting.” Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 51, Declaration of James Riddick 5, ECF No. 19-53. Another employee, Intaglio Plate Printer Deirdre Veney, witnessed the meeting and found it “to be racially [biased] and sexist . .. due to the fact that all the attending printers were Caucasian and male.” Id. at Ex. 49, Declaration of Deirdre Veney, ECF No. 19-51. Mr. Smith contends that any such division was happenstance: the meeting's demographics were a byproduct of the fact that he began his rounds at the press occupied by the most senior plate printers, all of whom were white males. Second Smith Decl. ¶¶ 22-23. He states that he proceeded to have the same informal conversation at other printing presses, including African American female Plate Printers. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. None of the other incidents expressly involve race, although the individual incidents described above each involved a confrontation between Ms. Newell and a white, male co-worker.

         On August 7, 2014, Ms. Newell amended her initial EEO complaint of discrimination to include claims related to the above-described events. Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 40, EEO Amended Acceptance Letter, ECF No. 19-40. This complaint was formally acknowledged in an August 11, 2015, letter accepting for investigation whether Ms. Newell was “subjected to sexual harassment and/or a hostile work environment based on race (African American) and sex (female).” Id. at Bates No. 00074. On September 29, 2017, the agency issued a final decision with a “finding of no discrimination” for all asserted claims. Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 41, Dep't of the Treasury Final Agency Decision 10, ECF No. 17-41.

         3. 2015 Non-Selection for Permanent Position

         Separately, as previously mentioned, Ms. Newell's complaint includes allegations of discriminatory and retaliatory non-selection for a permanent Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor position. In late March 2015, the agency posted a vacancy announcement for two such positions, to which Plaintiff applied. Pl.'s SMF 17. Ms. Newell advanced to the interview stage along with eight other eligible candidates. Id. However, in July 2015, this vacancy was canceled without explanation. Id. at 18. In August 2015, the agency re-posted the same vacancy announcement, this time for three available positions. Id. at 18-19. Plaintiff again applied and received an interview. Id. at 19, 21. In October 2015, she was notified that she had not been selected for the position. Id. at 33. However, Ms. Newell asserts that she “was unaware that [her] non-selection was discriminatory until” 2017, when she “overheard a conversation discussing” the selected individuals' qualifications. Id. at 34. Thereafter, on August 25, 2017, Ms. Newell contacted an EEO counselor to initiate a complaint alleging that she was “discriminated against on the basis of race (African-American), sex (female) and reprisal (prior EEO activity)” when she was not selected for the 2015 Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor position and when she learned on August 18, 2017 “that several employees who were Acting Supervisors, at the time of the announcement, and one employee who was not acting as a supervisor, were made permanent for the position of Plate Printer Assistant Supervisor.” Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 93-A, Notice of Right to File a Discrimination Complaint, ECF No. 19-95. Ms. Newell filed a formal complaint on December 4, 2017, and the agency subsequently issued a final decision dismissing the 2017 EEO complaint on the grounds that Ms. Newell had failed to comply with Title VII's requirements for timely filing of claims. Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 94, Dep't of the Treasury 2017 Final Agency Decision 1, ECF No. 19-96.

         4. “On the Spot” Bonus and Training Opportunity

         Plaintiff's initial 2017 EEO counseling outreach also mentioned two further allegations that were not addressed by the agency in its final decision, see Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 94, 2017 Final Agency Decision, ECF No. 19-96, and which Plaintiff now raises before the Court. Specifically, the handwritten submission in the initial contact sheet for Ms. Newell's 2017 EEO consultation stated that she “ha[d] been denied classes that would help position [her] for a promotion” and that “Richard Zachmann was allowed to take th[is] class” and also that she “wanted to file [a] retaliation complaint on the denial of a bonus and these other issues on Monday, August 14[, 2014].” Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 93, BEP Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management Initial Contact Sheet 5, ECF No. 19-95; see also Pl.'s SMF 34-36. These claims were not mentioned in the EEO notice of right to file a complaint, see id. at Ex. 93-A, the informal EEO complaint, see id. at Ex. 93-B, or the formal EEO complaint filed on December 4, 2017, see Def.'s Exhibits Ex. 35, ECF No. 17-35, all of which included only the non-selection allegations described above.

         The allegations concerning denial of a bonus arise from BEP's practice of giving “on the spot” awards at management's discretion. Pl.'s SMF 34. The parties agree that Ms. Newell was not initially granted such a bonus in 2017, but their accounts of this event are disputed. Ms. Newell asserts that her name was included for such a bonus and that others on her team were granted this bonus, but she was excluded until she filed a grievance. Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s First Set of Interrogatories ¶ 17. Defendant states that Ms. Newell was not selected for a bonus because the employees who received the “on the spot” award that year worked on the daytime shift, whereas Plaintiff was employed on the nighttime shift during that year. Pl.'s SMF 34. Plaintiff was ultimately awarded the bonus after she internally appealed this matter. Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s First Set of Interrogatories ¶ 17 (“I did not receive a bonus until I filed a grievance about it. Only then was one approved.”); see also Pl.'s Opp'n 24 (indicating Plaintiff received the bonus after contesting the decision).

         The training opportunity at issue also arose in 2017. On February 16, 2017, Mr. Smith received an email from the coordinator for BEP's Lean Sigma Six (“LSS”) courses, Jeffrey Freeman, indicating that Ms. Newell had asked for permission to attend an LSS “green-belt” course that would require her to be off of the printing press for a total of two weeks in March and April 2017. Id. 35-36. Defendant states that Mr. Smith denied this training request due to staffing needs on the evening shift, where Plaintiff works. Id. at 36. Plaintiff disputes this explanation, asserting that “[t]here are at least 15 other evening shift employees to cover for [her]” and pointing to the fact that “[a] white[] male with no known EEO activity also had the same amount of coverage but was approved for the training.” Id. Neither this aspect of Plaintiff's complaint nor her allegations concerning denial of a bonus were included in the formal complaint accepted by the agency for investigation in 2017, which was limited to the above-described discriminatory and retaliatory non-selection allegation. See Dep't of the Treasury 2017 Final Agency Decision 1 (dismissing allegation that Ms. Newell was “discriminated against on the basis of race[, ] . . . sex[, ] . . . and in retaliation for prior protected activity . . . when, in 2015, she was not selected for . . . permanent supervisor positions”).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         1. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is proper 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 Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is “genuine” if there is enough evidence for a reasonable finder of fact to decide in favor of the non-movant. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         Summary judgment endeavors to streamline litigation by disposing of factually unsupported claims or defenses and thereby determining whether trial is genuinely necessary. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The movant bears the initial burden of identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In response, the non-movant must point to specific facts in the record that reveal a genuine issue that is suitable for trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must “eschew making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence[, ]” Czekalski v. Peters, 475 F.3d 360, 363 (D.C. Cir. 2007), and all underlying facts and inferences must be analyzed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, see Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Nevertheless, conclusory assertions offered without any evidentiary support do not establish a genuine issue for trial. See Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999).

         2. Procedural Requirements in Title VII Suits

         Title VII “provides that before filing suit, an individual alleging that a federal agency engaged in employment discrimination must seek administrative adjudication of the claim.” Scott v. Johanns, 409 F.3d 466, 468 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16). More specifically, as relevant here, a federal government employee who “believe[s] they have been discriminated against on the basis of” race or gender “must consult a Counselor prior to filing a [formal EEO] complaint in order to try to informally resolve the matter.” 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a). Such contact must be initiated “within 45 days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of personnel action, within 45 days of the effective date of the action.” Id. at § 1614.105(a)(1). If an individual thereafter chooses to file a formal complaint, the agency must, within 180 days of the filing, “conduct an impartial and appropriate investigation of the complaint, ” id. at § 1614.106(e)(2), “provide the complainant with a copy of the investigative file, ” and notify the individual “that, within 30 days of [receipt of] the investigative file, ” she “may request . . . an immediate final decision” from the relevant agency or, in the alternative, pursue other forms of further administrative relief, id. at § 1614.108(f). Upon receipt of the final agency action on a complaint, the individual may, within ninety days, file a civil action in U.S. district court. Id. at § 1614.407. These administrative deadlines “are not jurisdictional. Rather, they function like a statute of limitations and ‘like a statute of limitations, [are] subject to waiver, estoppel, and equitable tolling.'” Brown v. Marsh, 777 F.2d 8, 14 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (quoting Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 455 U.S. 385, 393 (1982)).

         “Because untimely exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, the defendant bears the burden of pleading and proving it.” Bowden v. United States, 106 F.3d 433, 437 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (citing Brown, 777 F.2d at 13). If a defendant carries this burden, dismissal is proper. See Payne v. Salazar, 619 F.3d 56, 65 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (affirming trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies); Sierra v. Hayden (“Sierra I”), 254 F.Supp.3d 230, 236-37 (D.D.C. 2017) (dismissing plaintiff's Title VII claim because of failure to exhaust administrative remedies). More than meager, conclusory allegations that the plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies are required to discharge this burden. Brown, 777 F.2d at 12.

         Additionally, in federal district court actions brought under Title VII, a court has authority over only those claims that are contained in the plaintiff's administrative complaint or claims “like or reasonably related to” those claims in the administrative complaints. Park, 71 F.3d at 907; see also Haynes v. D.C. Water & Sewer Auth., 924 F.3d 519, 526-27 (D.C. Cir. 2019) (citing Park, 71 F.3d at 907); Kennedy v. Whitehurst, 690 F.2d 951, 961 (D.C. Cir. 1982)). A “reasonably related” claim “must[, ] at a minimum[, ] . . . arise from the administrative investigation that can reasonably be expected to follow the charge of discrimination.” Haynes, 924 F.3d at 526-27 (citing Payne, 619 F.3d at 65) (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Ms. Newell's claims in the suit filed in this Court arise from two EEO complaints that she filed in 2014 and 2017. Defendant argues that, except for the discrimination claim based on her 2014 reassignment and the claim for denial of a bonus, all the claims that Ms. Newell has presented to the Court suffer from procedural deficiencies and, accordingly, summary judgment should be granted in the agency's favor.[9] See Def.'s Mem. 10 (“Plaintiff Failed to Timely Exhaust Her Administrative Remedies for Each and Every Discrete Alleged Unlawful Employment Action”). Defendant also argues that the agency has offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the 2014 reassignment and 2017 denial of a bonus, respectively, and urges the Court to grant summary judgment on these claims. For the reasons set forth below, the Court agrees with Defendant: the claims alleging retaliation in 2014, non-selection in 2015, and discriminatory and retaliatory denial of a training opportunity in 2017, respectively, do not clear Title VII's procedural bar because Plaintiff did not timely exhaust these claims administratively, and Plaintiff does not establish a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to survive summary judgment on her other claims.

         A. Discovery Conduct

         Before assessing the pending motion for summary judgment, the Court discusses a procedural matter raised by Ms. Newell: whether discovery sanctions are appropriate here. Plaintiff's opening argument in her opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment asserts, for the first time, that Defendant should be sanctioned for its discovery conduct and “reli[ance] upon information not timely produced during the discovery period.” Pl.'s Mot. Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Opp'n”) 8, ECF No. 19. This allegation centers on Defendant's supplemental production of documents after the close of discovery. The Court will briefly recount salient discovery dates and litigation timing to contextualize the parties' arguments.

         Discovery in this suit closed on November 5, 2018. See Scheduling Order, ECF No. 9. Defendant's first supplemental production came after this date. On March 8, 2019, one week before filing its motion for summary judgment, Defendant emailed Plaintiff that “the Agency very likely has additional responsive documents relating to the 2015 non-selection” and that it would therefore “need to make a supplemental document production.” Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 98, ECF No. 19-100. Defendant initially proposed a thirty-day postponement of briefing deadlines to accommodate the supplemental production. Id. According to Defendant, Plaintiff opposed this extension, see Def.'s Mot. for Extension of Time 1, ECF No. 15, whereupon Defendant moved for a two-day extension of the original summary judgment briefing schedule, which Plaintiff also opposed, id. at 1-2. The Court granted this two-day extension over Plaintiff's objection, see Min. Order (Mar. 12, 2019), and Defendant subsequently filed its motion for summary judgment on March 15, 2019, see Def.'s Mot. Summ J., ECF No. 16.

         A further supplemental production followed. On April 5, 2019, Defendant sent an email notifying Plaintiff's counsel that it was again supplementing document production to provide 150 pages of additional documents pertinent to Plaintiff's 2015 non-selection claim. Pl.'s Opp'n Ex. 100, ECF No. 19-102. Plaintiff then moved for a forty-five-day extension of its deadline to respond to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, which Defendant did not oppose. Pl.'s Mot. for Extension of Time, ECF No. 18. This Court granted the unopposed motion, see Min. Order (Apr. 12, 2019), and Plaintiff filed her opposition on May 28, 2018, see Pl.'s Opp'n.

         Now, Plaintiff contests this supplemental production as part of her opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff did not bring any further motions seeking discovery sanctions or otherwise indicating that Defendant improperly concealed the documents or that the supplemental production unfairly prejudiced her. Although confusingly not styled or filed as a separate motion for sanctions, the heart of Plaintiff's present objection seems to be that the late document production after the close of discovery was in violation of the Court's May 5, 2018 Scheduling Order, ECF No. 9, such that the Court should award sanctions pursuant to its authority under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 16(f) and 37(b), see Pl.'s Opp'n 8-9. Plaintiff characterizes Defendant's late production as a strategic move to “advantage its case and prejudice Plaintiff's case by “prevent[ing] [her] from seeking the deposition of pertinent witnesses or seeking additional discovery.” Id. at 10. As such, Defendant's untimely late production, Plaintiff argues, cannot be excused under Rule 26(e)'s duty to supplement. Id. at 9 (citing Shatsky v. Syrian Arab Republic, 312 F.R.D. 219, 225 (D.D.C. 2015)). She thus asserts that the Court should “either strike from the record or, alternatively, disregard” the late-produced material. Id. at 8.

         Defendant retorts that Plaintiff's request is both procedurally improper and unwarranted on the merits. First, Plaintiff failed to file any motion for sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b). Def.'s Reply 24. Second, Defendant points out that there is no evidence of bad faith or an abuse of the judicial process, such that sanctions are warranted; to the contrary, Defendant's incomplete initial production was a “inadvertent oversight on the part of the agency, ” and Defendant “took immediate steps to correct the error.” Id. at 25. Moreover, Defendant was open to an extension of the briefing schedule-which it sought, as described above, over Plaintiff's objection-and “informed Plaintiff prior to filing its Motion [for Summary Judgment] that it would not oppose a reasonable request to reopen discovery if Plaintiff deemed it necessary.” Id. Defendant thus urges the Court to deny Plaintiff's request for discovery ...


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