195 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 1999), 98-5410, Samii v. Billington

Docket Nº:98-5410
Citation:195 F.3d 1
Party Name:Kuross Samii, Appellant v. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, Appellee
Case Date:October 29, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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195 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 1999)

Kuross Samii, Appellant

v.

James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, Appellee

No. 98-5410

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

October 29, 1999

Argued September 24, 1999

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia(97cv01794)

David H. Shapiro argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant. Diane Bodner entered an appearance.

Diane M. Sullivan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With her on the brief were Wilma A. Lewis, U.S. Attorney, Mark E. Nagle and R. Craig Lawrence, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Before: Ginsburg and Randolph, Circuit Judges, and Buckley, Senior Circuit Judge.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge Randolph.

Randolph, Circuit Judge:

Dr. Kuross Samii, an employee of the Library of Congress who classifies himself as an "Asian American," appeals from the district court's order on summary judgment

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rejecting his Title VII claims of retaliation and racial discrimination.

The facts are these. In September 1994, after working three years at the Library as a GS-13 research associate, Dr. Samii applied and was selected for a GS-14 position as a program analysis officer within the Library's Office of the Associate Librarian for Human Resource Services ("HRS"), Affirmative Action and Special Programs Office ("AASPO").The program analysis officer position is a "budgeted" and "funded" position, meaning Dr. Samii's salary is paid from the portion of the Library's budget specifically allocated for Human Resource Services.

Shortly after starting at the AASPO, Dr. Samii was asked to conduct a study to generate suggestions for improving the effectiveness of the AASPO program. Dr. Samii's study concluded that an internal reorganization would enhance the program's effectiveness. Under a proposed reorganization, Dr. Samii would have received a promotion to the next higher grade level by accretion of duties. The plan was presented to upper management at the Library, who opposed it, as a result of which it was never implemented.

Frustrated by the failed reorganization, Dr. Samii began to explore the possibility of transferring out of AASPO. In late 1995, he wrote to Lloyd Pauls, the Associate Librarian for Human Resources, indicating his desire to transfer to another part of the Library. Mr. Pauls informed Dr. Samii that he was free to transfer to another department so long as he could find an open funded position. According to Library policy, HRS employees could not transfer budgeted salary funds to other divisions of the Library. Employees were permitted to transfer from HRS to other areas of the Library only if they found open positions in other divisions with budgeted funds. In a memo responding to Dr. Samii's request, Mr. Pauls explained that he would approve a transfer to another service unit but not permit the reassignment of Dr. Samii's budget number and salary.

Though still intent on transferring out of the AASPO, Dr. Samii continued in his position as a program analysis officer.While performing his duties, he concluded that the Library was not fully complying with the terms of the "Cook settlement"--an agreement settling a lawsuit that alleged discrimination by the Library against its black employees. See Cook v. Billington, No. Civ. 82-0400, 1992 WL 276936 (D.D.C. Aug. 14, 1992). In May 1995, Dr. Samii notified his supervisor, Denise Banks, that certain reviews required by the settlement, ensuring nondiscrimination in the Library's hiring process, were not being conducted. Ms. Banks passed along this information to her supervisor, Lloyd Pauls. Concerned that the violations had not abated, Dr. Samii conferred with his former supervisor, who encouraged him to report the Library's non-compliance with the settlement agreement. On March 7, 1996, Dr. Samii wrote a memorandum to John Rensbarger, the Inspector General of the Library, informing him that the reviews required under the Cook settlement agreement were not being performed. Rensbarger allegedly discussed the matter with the Library's Senior Advisor for Diversity, Jo Ann Jenkins. Dr. Samii claims that Ms. Jenkins spoke with his immediate supervisor, Ms. Banks, and told her to do something about the "troublemakers" on her staff, referring to Dr. Samii's whistle-blowing activity.

Ms. Banks, however, was soon replaced by Carl Whisenton, who became the new Director of the AASPO. Dr. Samii contends that Mr. Whisenton stopped the reorganization of the AASPO, and thereby blocked his promotion. He also claims that Mr. Whisenton removed him from certain management...

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