319 F.3d 532 (D.C. Cir. 2003), 01-7155, Ben-Kotel v. Howard University

Docket Nº:01-7155.
Citation:319 F.3d 532
Party Name:Jose BEN-KOTEL, Appellant, v. HOWARD UNIVERSITY, Appellee.
Case Date:February 14, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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319 F.3d 532 (D.C. Cir. 2003)

Jose BEN-KOTEL, Appellant,



No. 01-7155.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

February 14, 2003

Argued Oct. 22, 2002.

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 00cv01968).

Kay Leslie Ackman argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant. Maxwell O. Chibundu entered an appearance.

Daniel I. Prywes argued the cause for appellee. On the brief was Sheila Lowery Ferguson. Phillip A. Lattimore III entered an appearance.

Before: GINSBURG, Chief Judge, HENDERSON, Circuit Judge, and WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judge.

Opinion for the Court filed by Chief Judge GINSBURG.

GINSBURG, Chief Judge:

Jose Ben-Kotel, a native of Chile, claims that Howard University denied him employment because of his national origin, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of the D.C. Human Rights Act. The district court, holding that Ben-Kotel had not made out a prima facie case of discrimination, granted summary judgment in favor of the University. On appeal Ben-Kotel argues that the district court misconceived the law, improperly weighed the evidence against him, and denied him due process. Because Ben-Kotel did not raise the first argument before the district court, it is forfeit. The other arguments have no merit.

I. Background

Except as otherwise noted, we recount the facts in the light most favorable to Ben-Kotel. Prior to the Fall 1999 semester Howard University advertised a part-time position for a Spanish instructor, to which Ben-Kotel, a Chilean-born citizen of the United States, responded. Ben-Kotel was at the time a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish Literature at the University of Maryland; he had a master's degree in Spanish and had more than three years' experience teaching Spanish to high school and college students.

After Ben-Kotel telephoned Dr. Aleida Rodriguez, the contact person for the advertised position and a professor at Howard, he had a series of interviews with representatives of the University. In addition to Rodriguez, Ben-Kotel spoke with Dr. Amelia Mondragon, the Spanish language coordinator; Dr. Alphonse Frost, chairman of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; and Associate Dean Paul Logan. The conversations with Rodriguez and Mondragon were entirely in

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Spanish, those with Frost and Logan in English. Rodriguez and Mondragon were pleased with Ben-Kotel's qualifications. Although Frost thought Ben-Kotel's command of English was "flawed," he was nevertheless "quite comfortable in envisioning him in the classroom teaching [the University's] students."

Dean Logan, whose approval was necessary for Ben-Kotel to be hired, was not so comfortable. Logan claims that in their telephone conversation Ben-Kotel had difficulty communicating in English. In particular, Ben-Kotel "had difficulty expressing himself coherently in English and misunderstood some of the questions which I asked." Ben-Kotel states that he and Logan "fully understood each other."

Following his conversation with Ben-Kotel, Logan...

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