Wada v. Tomlinson, Civil Action No. 03-1488 (CKK).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Citation517 F.Supp.2d 148
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 03-1488 (CKK).
PartiesHadiza I. WADA, Plaintiff, v. Kenneth Y. TOMLINSON, Defendant.
Decision Date09 May 2007

Page 148

517 F.Supp.2d 148
Hadiza I. WADA, Plaintiff,
Kenneth Y. TOMLINSON, Defendant.
Civil Action No. 03-1488 (CKK).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
May 9, 2007.

Page 149


Page 150

Brian W. Shaughnessy, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Rhonda C. Fields, United States Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendant.



Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, a former employee of the Broadcasting Board of Governors ("BBG") — specifically of the Hausa Service of the Africa Division of Voice of America ("VOA") — brings the above-captioned action against Defendant Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, in his official capacity as Chair of the BBG, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., as amended ("Title VII"). Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant discriminated against her based on her race, sex, and religion by not selecting her for a supervisory position (Count I), refusing to reclassify Plaintiff's position from a GS-12 to a GS-13 (Count II), and subjecting her to disparate discipline (Count III). In addition, Plaintiff alleges that she was subject to retaliatory discipline as a result of her prior use of the Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") process (Count IV), and that she was subject to discriminatory and retaliatory harassment that amounted to a hostile work environment (Count V). Furthermore, by Order dated October 14, 2005, the Court effectively allowed Plaintiff to amend her Complaint to add allegations of discrimination and retaliation relating to the termination of her employment.

Defendant has moved for summary judgment as to all Counts included in Plaintiff's Complaint as well as Plaintiff's claim that her termination constituted discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion for summary judgment, which became ripe on March 19, 2007, when Defendant filed its reply memorandum in further support of its motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, on April 4, 2007, Plaintiff filed a motion asking that the Court disregard as untimely Defendant's motion for summary judgment and reply. Upon a searching consideration of the filings currently before the Court, the attached exhibits, the relevant case law, and the entire record herein, the Court shall deny Plaintiff's motion asking the Court to disregard Defendant's motion for summary judgment and reply, and

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shall grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment in its entirety.


The Court begins its discussion of the facts by noting that this Court strictly adheres to the text of Local Civil Rule 56.1 (identical to Local Civil Rule 7(h) (formerly Rule 7.1(h))). The local rules for summary judgment "assist[] the district court to maintain docket control and to decide motions for summary judgment efficiently and effectively." Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 150 (D.C.Cir.1996). "Requiring strict compliance with the local rule is justified both by the nature of summary judgment and by the rule's purposes. ... The procedure contemplated by the rule thus isolates the facts that the parties assert are material, distinguishes disputed from undisputed facts, and identifies the pertinent parts of the record." Id. (quoting Gardels v. CIA, 637 F.2d 770, 773 (D.C.Cir.1980)). "[A] district court should not be obliged to sift through hundreds of pages of depositions, affidavits, and interrogatories in order to make [its] own analysis s and determination of what may, or may not, be a genuine issue of material fact." Id. (quoting Twist v. Meese, 854 F.2d 1421, 1425 (D.C.Cir.1988)).

The Court further notes that, in the Court's September 19, 2006 Scheduling and Procedures Order, the parties were advised that "[t]he Court strictly adheres to the dictates of Local Civil Rules 7(h) and 56.1 and may strike pleadings not in conformity with these rules." Wada v. Tomlinson, Civil Action No. 03-1488, Order (D.D.C. September 19, 2006) (citing Burke v. Gould, 286 F.3d 513, 519 (D.C.Cir.2002)). The Court's Scheduling and Procedures Order also specifically instructed Plaintiff that she should respond to each paragraph in Defendant's statement of material facts with "a correspondingly numbered paragraph, indicating whether that paragraph is admitted or denied," including any information relevant to her response in that paragraph, and furnishing precise citations to the portions of the record on which she relied. Id.

In her Response to Issues of Material Facts (hereinafter "Plaintiff's Statement"), Plaintiff complies with the Court's Scheduling and Procedures Order, insofar as she responds to each paragraph of Defendant's Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter "Defendant's Statement") with a correspondingly numbered paragraph. However, many of Plaintiff's responses consist primarily of argument, rather than evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. Moreover, in her Statement, Plaintiff cites broadly to her "exhibit," which is in turn divided into sections relating to each of Defendant's numbered factual assertions. Many of these sections include upwards of fifty pages of documents, and Plaintiff does not specify the particular pages of the section on which she relies. The Court has nevertheless undertaken a review of the record evidence submitted by Plaintiff in order to determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist.

As the Court's Scheduling and Procedures Order set forth, pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56.1, in resolving the present summary judgment motion, this Court "assumes that facts identified by the moving party in the statement of material facts are admitted, unless such a fact is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in opposition to the motion." LCvR 56.1; 7(h). In accordance with this Rule, the Court has treated as admitted all facts alleged by Defendant in its Statement and not specifically contradicted by Plaintiff in her Statement. The Court has also considered the facts adduced by Plaintiff in

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her Statement, to the extent that they are supported by record evidence, and cites directly to the record, where appropriate, to provide additional information not covered in either of the parties' statements.

A. The Parties

Pro se Plaintiff, Hadiza Wada, was born in Nigeria and became a naturalized United States citizen in 2000. Compl. ¶ 8.1 Plaintiff describes herself as a female member of the Islamic faith. Id. ¶¶ 4, 8. At the time she filed her Complaint, Plaintiff was an employee of the Broadcasting Board of Governors ("BBG") in the Hausa Service of the Africa Division of Voice of America ("VOA"), at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Id. ¶ 3. BBG is an agency of the United States federal government, and VOA is an international broadcast service, which broadcasts on radio and television in 44 languages. Id. ¶ 5; BBG Home Page, http://www.bbg.gov/bbg_ aboutus.cfm. The Hausa Service is one of five (5) language services and two (2) branches in the Africa Division of VOA. 9/27/02 Dillard Decl. ¶ 6.2

Plaintiff was hired by VOA in 1986 as an International Radio Broadcaster (IRB) at the GG-11 grade level, was promoted to the GG-12 grade level in 1991, and was converted to the GS-12 grade in 2000. Compl. ¶ 9. Plaintiff remained a GS-12 IRB until her termination by VOA, which was effective September 10, 2004. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 69.

B. Plaintiff's Non-Selection as Hausa Service Chief

In approximately June 2000, the then-Hausa Service Chief, Rashidah Hasan, was reassigned. Id. ¶ 1. The Service Chief position would remain vacant until August 2001. Id. During that time, Africa Division Director Gwendolyn Dillard assigned two VOA employees — Diane Butts and Negussie Mengesha — to take on supervisory responsibilities for the Hausa Service. Id. ¶ 2.3 On or about July 1, 2000, Plaintiff was

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officially given a new position description of "Senior Editor" in the Hausa Service. Id. ¶ 3; Def.'s Non-Select. Exs. at 1-6 (7/1/00 Request for Personnel Action). In addition to the ordinary duties of an IRB with editorial responsibilities, Plaintiff's duties as Senior Editor included, "Mil absence of the Service Chief, attends daily Division meetings, and with the assistance of other Service Chiefs and the Africa Division Director, assumes other responsibilities representing the Service," as well as "[p]rovides input to annual performance evaluation of staffers." Id. at 3. However, as Defendant points out, Plaintiff's new position description had no effect on her grade or pay because Plaintiff remained an IRB GS-12, step 7. Id. at 1. Furthermore, according to the relevant Request for Personnel Action form, the position of Senior Editor was neither supervisory nor managerial. Id. at 2 box 11.

For her part, Plaintiff maintains that she performed supervisory duties on the Hausa Service for extended periods of time, specifically between 1994 and 1998, and between 2000 and 2001, and that she had been a Senior Editor since 1994. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 2-3. In support of this assertion, Plaintiff points to documents from the 1990s in which Plaintiff is referred to as "senior night shift editor" and described as "one of the senior editors." See Pl.'s Exs. for Issue No. 2. Plaintiff also disputes Defendant's assertion that her Senior Editor position was not supervisory or managerial, Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 5, noting that her 2000 position description indicates that she could "assume other responsibilities representing the Service," Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 5. Nevertheless, it is uncontroverted that Plaintiff was not officially given the position of Senior Editor until July 2000 and that the position of Senior Editor was identified as neither supervisory nor managerial in the relevant appointment paperwork. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 3; Def.'s Non-Select. Exs. at 1-6 (7/1/00 Request for Personnel...

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