Calhoun v. Johnson, No. 09–5315.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore: GINSBURG, ROGERS, and GARLAND, Circuit Judges.
Citation632 F.3d 1259
PartiesIona D. CALHOUN, Appellantv.Martha N. JOHNSON, Administrator, United States General Services Administration, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 09–5315.
Decision Date21 January 2011

632 F.3d 1259
111 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas.
(BNA) 499
94 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 44,092
394 U.S.App.D.C.
163

Iona D. CALHOUN, Appellant
v.
Martha N. JOHNSON, Administrator, United States General Services Administration, Appellee.

No. 09–5315.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

Jan. 21, 2011.


[632 F.3d 1260]

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:06–cv–01441).James L. Fuchs argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Ari Taragin and Michael J. Snider.Claire Whitaker, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With her on the brief were Ronald C. Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney, and R. Craig Lawrence, Assistant U.S. Attorney.Before: GINSBURG, ROGERS, and GARLAND, Circuit Judges.Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge GARLAND.GARLAND, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff Iona Calhoun brought suit against her employer, the General Services Administration (GSA), claiming (inter alia) discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of GSA. Before us on appeal are Calhoun's claims that GSA violated Title VII by failing to select her for positions in its Office of Information Technology and Office of Real Property. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing Calhoun's claim that GSA unlawfully discriminated against her in connection with the Office of Information Technology position, and we remand that claim for trial. We affirm the district court's judgment with respect to the remaining claims.

I

In 2000, Iona Calhoun, an African–American, was a GS–13 Computer Specialist in GSA's Office of Information Technology (OIT). In December of that year, she applied for a newly created position as a GS–14 Computer Specialist. OIT's Division Director, Paul Whitson, left on vacation before the application period ended and before Calhoun applied. Whitson assigned his deputy, Wanda Peterson–Parker, as the selecting official in his absence. As he was leaving, however, he directed her to select Tokey Bradfield, an Asian–American, for the position. 1 Peterson–Parker followed Whitson's directive and selected Bradfield. See GSA Br. 2.

By 2003, Calhoun had become a Program Specialist in GSA's Office of Real Property (ORP). During 2003–04, she applied for three higher-paying ORP vacancies. ORP's director, Stanley Langfeld, did not select Calhoun for any of the three positions. Instead, he selected Kenneth Holstrom, Robert Burmeister, and Virginia McDonald, all of whom are white.

Calhoun's Title VII suit alleges that, by failing to select her for the OIT and ORP positions, GSA discriminated against her on account of race and retaliated against her for engaging in protected activity. The district court disagreed and granted the government's motion for summary judgment. With respect to the OIT position, the court concluded that, “[b]ecause Calhoun has not presented any evidence to refute Whitson's nondiscriminatory reason [for hiring Bradfield], GSA is entitled to summary judgment.” Calhoun v. Prouty, 643 F.Supp.2d 87, 94 (D.D.C.2009). With respect to the ORP positions, the court found that Calhoun had failed to submit any “evidence that would reasonably support a conclusion that Langfeld's stated reasons [for selecting Holstrom, Burmeister, and McDonald] are pretextual.” Id.

[632 F.3d 1261]

II

“We review the district court's decision to grant summary judgment de novo.” Waterhouse v. District of Columbia, 298 F.3d 989, 991 (D.C.Cir.2002). Summary judgment is appropriate only if “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); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute about a material fact “is ‘genuine’ ... if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. In making that determination, the court “must view the evidence in the light most favorable to [the nonmoving party], draw all reasonable inferences in her favor, and eschew making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.” Lathram v. Snow, 336 F.3d 1085, 1088 (D.C.Cir.2003).

Title VII prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against their employees on account of race, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–16(a), and from retaliating against them for asserting their rights under Title VII, see Lathram, 336 F.3d at 1088. Where, as here, the plaintiff lacks direct evidence of discrimination or retaliation, we analyze her claims under the framework of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802–05, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), as simplified by Brady v. Office of Sergeant at Arms, 520 F.3d 490, 494 (D.C.Cir.2008). Under Brady, once the employer has proffered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for a challenged employment action, the “central question” is whether “the employee produced sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the employer's asserted non-discriminatory reason was not the actual reason and that the employer intentionally discriminated against the employee on the basis of race.” 520 F.3d at 494; see Jones v. Bernanke, 557 F.3d 670, 678 (D.C.Cir.2009) (holding that “these principles apply equally to retaliation claims”). “Usually, proffering ‘evidence from which a jury could find that [the employer's] stated reasons ... were pretextual ... will be enough to get a plaintiff's claim to a jury.’ ” George v. Leavitt, 407 F.3d 405, 413 (D.C.Cir.2005) (quoting Carpenter v. Fed. Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n, 165 F.3d 69, 72 (D.C.Cir.1999)).

In subpart A, we consider Calhoun's claims regarding GSA's failure to select her for the OIT Computer Specialist position. In subpart B, we consider her claims regarding the agency's failure to select her for the ORP vacancies.

A

Calhoun contends that Whitson discriminated against her on the basis of race by directing his deputy, Peterson–Parker, to hire Bradfield for the OIT position. GSA responds that Whitson could not have knowingly discriminated against Calhoun because he issued his directive as he was leaving for vacation—before Calhoun had applied for the job. Calhoun counters, supported by testimony from Peterson–Parker, that she was one of only two employees in Whitson's division who were qualified to apply for the position. (Peterson–Parker pointedly excluded Bradfield from that list. EEOC Hr'g Tr. 208–09 (June 6, 2006).) It stands to reason, Calhoun argues, that Whitson would have expected one of the few qualified GS–13 Computer Specialists in his division to apply for his new GS–14 Computer Specialist position. The fact that Calhoun had not done so by the time...

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68 practice notes
  • United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., AFL–CIO v. Operative Plasterers' & Cement Masons' Int'l Ass'n of U.S. & Canada, AFL–CIO, Nos. 11–7155
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 5, 2013
    ...effect in Frye.IV. Merits As this case is before us on appeal from summary judgment grants, our review is de novo. Calhoun v. Johnson, 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C.Cir.2011). We note at the outset that the Carpenters do not challenge the merits of the Awards. See Nat'l Postal Mail Handlers Unio......
  • Jeffries v. Barr, No. 17-5008
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 14, 2020
    ...employers are also prohibited by Title VII from retaliating against employees for asserting their Title VII rights. Calhoun v. Johnson , 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C. Cir. 2011). The McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework may be applied to claims of retaliation. See McGrath v. Clinton , 66......
  • United States v. Louisiana, Case No. 3:11-cv-00470-JWD-RLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • July 26, 2016
    ...150. This command—that a district court "eschew making credibility determination or weighing the evidence," Calhoun v. Johnson, 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (citing Lathram v. Snow, 336 F.3d 1085, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2003)); accord, e.g., Flythe v. Dist. of Columbia, 791 F.3d ......
  • George v. La. Dep't of Pub. Safety & Corr., CIVIL ACTION No. 3:14-00338-JWD-EWD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • June 23, 2016
    ...150. This command—that a district court "eschew making credibility determination or weighing the evidence," Calhoun v. Johnson, 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (citing Lathram v. Snow, 336 F.3d 1085, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2003)); accord, e.g., Flythe v. Dist. of Columbia, 791 F.3d ......
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68 cases
  • United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., AFL–CIO v. Operative Plasterers' & Cement Masons' Int'l Ass'n of U.S. & Canada, AFL–CIO, Nos. 11–7155
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 5, 2013
    ...effect in Frye.IV. Merits As this case is before us on appeal from summary judgment grants, our review is de novo. Calhoun v. Johnson, 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C.Cir.2011). We note at the outset that the Carpenters do not challenge the merits of the Awards. See Nat'l Postal Mail Handlers Unio......
  • Jeffries v. Barr, No. 17-5008
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 14, 2020
    ...employers are also prohibited by Title VII from retaliating against employees for asserting their Title VII rights. Calhoun v. Johnson , 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C. Cir. 2011). The McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework may be applied to claims of retaliation. See McGrath v. Clinton , 66......
  • United States v. Louisiana, Case No. 3:11-cv-00470-JWD-RLB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • July 26, 2016
    ...150. This command—that a district court "eschew making credibility determination or weighing the evidence," Calhoun v. Johnson, 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (citing Lathram v. Snow, 336 F.3d 1085, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2003)); accord, e.g., Flythe v. Dist. of Columbia, 791 F.3d ......
  • George v. La. Dep't of Pub. Safety & Corr., CIVIL ACTION No. 3:14-00338-JWD-EWD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • June 23, 2016
    ...150. This command—that a district court "eschew making credibility determination or weighing the evidence," Calhoun v. Johnson, 632 F.3d 1259, 1261 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (citing Lathram v. Snow, 336 F.3d 1085, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2003)); accord, e.g., Flythe v. Dist. of Columbia, 791 F.3d ......
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