Mansfield v. Kerry
MEMORANDUM OPINION (c/m to Plaintiff 12/21/16 sat). Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 12/21/2016. (sat, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
CHARLES G. MANSFIELD
Civil Action No. DKC 15-3693
JOHN KERRY, Secretary,
U.S. Department of State
employment discrimination case are the following motions:
motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment
filed by Defendant John Kerry (“Defendant”), Secretary of the
United States Department of State (the “Agency”) (ECF No. 8);
and (2) a cross-motion for partial summary judgment filed by
Plaintiff Charles G. Mansfield (“Plaintiff”) (ECF No. 14).
issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing
being deemed necessary.
will be denied.
Local Rule 105.6.
For the following
Plaintiff, an African American man, is a retired Agency
employee who applied for an Agency Personal Services Contractor,
Program Analyst position (GS-0080-13/13) on the Field Support
(ECF No. 8-2, at 43-46, 53-67).
The job announcement included
the four factors upon which the candidates would be evaluated:
procurement and acquisition activities.
Experience researching and analyzing
data and information to produce forecast
plans and reports.
Knowledge of the Federal budgetary
rules, regulations and process to provide
expert advice and guidance.
(ECF Nos. 12-4, at DOS-0046; 8-2, at 95, 114).
human resources department created a Certificate of Eligibles
from the applications, which included Plaintiff and four other
Eligibles included the five candidates’ scores on “job-specific
(See ECF Nos. 12-4, at DOS-0047; 8-2, at
Unless otherwise noted, the facts outlined here are
undisputed or construed in the light most favorable to
assessment score, and Charles Segrist, Jr., a Caucasian man, had
the lowest score.
The Certificate of Eligibles was sent to the
selecting official, FSB Branch Chief Tamika Abbott.
2, at 91-93).
(ECF No. 8-
FSB Section Chief Rickey Fergerson assisted Ms.
Abbott in reviewing the candidates’ applications, but did not
play a role in making the selection decision for the Program
(Id. at 92, 104).
Fergerson are African American.
Both Ms. Abbott and Mr.
(Id. at 91, 104).
Ms. Abbott reviewed the application materials and ranked
the eligible candidates based on her determination of the extent
to which each candidate satisfied the four evaluation factors.
at 93, 95).
Ms. Abbott did not interview any of the
(See id. at 93; ECF No. 12-9, at 3).
ranked Mr. Segrist first and Plaintiff fourth, and Mr. Segrist
was selected for the Program Analyst position.
(ECF No. 8-2, at
Plaintiff was informed that he was not selected for
the position on May 3, 2011.
(Id. at 44).
On May 9, Plaintiff contacted an Agency Equal Employment
Opportunity (“EEO”) counselor.
(Id. at 16).
A Notice of Right
to File a Discrimination Complaint was issued to Plaintiff on
(Id. at 28-29).
On August 23, Plaintiff filed a
formal EEO complaint with the Agency Office of Civil Rights.
(Id. at 13-15).
The Agency Office of Civil Rights issued a
establish his claims of discrimination on July 7, 2013.
ECF No. 12-8, at 1).
Plaintiff appealed to the Equal Employment
reconsideration, which was denied on September 3, 2015.
On December 2, 2015, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a
complaint asserting racial discrimination for failing to hire
him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
(ECF No. 1).
On April 1, 2016,
Defendant moved to dismiss or for summary judgment.
Plaintiff was provided with a Roseboro notice (ECF No. 9),
which advised him of the pendency of the motion to dismiss and
his entitlement to respond within seventeen days from the date
of the letter.
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4th Cir.
plaintiffs should be advised of their
Plaintiff opposed the motion (ECF No. 12), filed a
Defendant’s proposed finding of fact” (ECF Nos. 13; 15), and
moved for partial summary judgment (ECF No. 14).
replied and opposed Plaintiff’s motion in his reply brief.
Standard of Review
Defendant’s motion is styled as a motion to dismiss, or in
the alternative, for summary judgment.
A court considers only
the pleadings when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
parties present matters outside of the pleadings and the court
considers those matters as it does here, the court will treat
the motion as one for summary judgment.
See Gadsby v. Grasmick,
109 F.3d 940, 949 (4th Cir. 1997).
A motion for summary judgment will be granted only if there
exists no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th Cir. 2008).
Summary judgment is inappropriate if any material factual issue
“may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.”
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 250; JKC Holding Co. LLC v. Wash. Sports
Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001).
The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact.
However, no genuine
dispute of material fact exists if the nonmoving party fails to
make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her
case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322–23.
Therefore, on those issues on
which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or
her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with
an “affidavit or other evidentiary showing” demonstrating that
there is a genuine issue for trial.
See Ross v. Early, 899
F.Supp.2d 415, 420 (D.Md. 2012), aff’d, 746 F.3d 546 (4th Cir.
“A mere scintilla of proof . . . will not suffice to
prevent summary judgment.”
(4th Cir. 2003).
Peters v. Jenney, 327 F.3d 307, 314
“If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).
cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact through mere
speculation or compilation of inferences.”
Shin v. Shalala, 166
F.Supp.2d 373, 375 (D.Md. 2001) (citation omitted).
this court has an affirmative obligation to prevent factually
Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778–79 (4th Cir. 1993) (quoting
Felty v. Graves–Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir.
courts have recognized repeatedly, even a pro se party may not
See Smith v. Vilsack, 832 F.Supp.2d 573,
580 (D.Md. 2011) (citing cases).
Title VII prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s
personal characteristics such as “race, color, religion, sex, or
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a); Univ. of Texas Sw.
Med. Ctr. v. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517, 2525 (2013).
To survive a
motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff asserting a Title VII
through one of two avenues of proof:
(1) direct evidence that
decision, or (2) the McDonnell Douglas “pretext framework” that
permissible reason for taking an adverse employment action is
actually a pretext for discrimination.”
See Hill v. Lockheed
Martin Logistics Mgmt., Inc., 354 F.3d 277, 284-85 (4th Cir.
2004) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
Because Plaintiff does not put forth direct evidence of
discrimination, his discrimination claim must be examined using
the burden-shifting framework established in McDonnell Douglas.
The familiar McDonnell Douglas framework “‘compensat[es] for the
fact that direct evidence of intentional discrimination is hard
to come by’” and “give[s] plaintiffs who lack direct evidence a
method for raising an inference of discrimination.”
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 318 (4th Cir.
2005) (quoting Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 271
McDonnell Douglas, once the plaintiff meets his initial burden
of establishing a prima facie case for a Title VII violation,
“the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate,
Lockheed Martin, 354 F.3d at 285.
If the employer meets this
burden of production, “the burden shifts back to the plaintiff
to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s
stated reasons ‘were not its true reasons, but were a pretext’”
Id. (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, “[t]he
persuading the court that [the plaintiff] has been the victim of
intentional discrimination, which at all times remains with the
Merritt v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 601
F.3d 289, 294 (4th Cir. 2010) (alteration in original) (quoting
Prima Facie Case
To establish a prima facie case of discriminatory failure
to hire based on race, a plaintiff must show that:
(1) he is a
position for which he applied; (3) he was qualified for the
position; and (4) he was not selected for the position under
See Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co.,
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 406 F.3d 248, 268 (4th Cir.
discrimination because he has not put forth evidence sufficient
giving rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination.
In his motion for summary judgment, Defendant challenges
discriminated against Plaintiff because she was unaware of his
race at the time of the selection decision.
(ECF No. 8-1, at
“It is axiomatic that a defendant cannot be found to have
discriminated against a plaintiff on the basis of race where the
defendant had no knowledge of the plaintiff’s race.”
v. Chao, 577 F.Supp.2d 27, 40 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing cases).
There is no evidence in the record that Ms. Abbott knew that
Plaintiff was African American.
To the contrary, Ms. Abbott
attested under oath that she was unaware of Plaintiff’s race
when she made the hiring decision, and until she was informed of
undisputed that Plaintiff’s application did not mention his race
(see id. at 53-67), and that Ms. Abbott did not interview him
(see id. at 44).
Abbott at an Agency forum or meeting, and that he “recognized”
her at an alternative dispute resolution meeting held after he
Investigative Affidavit, Plaintiff stated that Ms. Abbott was
aware of his race because, “as a former Government employee and
Manager at State, [he] frequently attended conferences/meetings
with Diplomatic Security contract staff and management officials
employed by Diplomatic Security where [his] race would have been
(ECF No. 8-2, at 43).
included his race.
Plaintiff also stated in his
Plaintiff’s contention that he may
employed at the Agency, prior to 2007, is not in evidence, but
even if it were, it would be evidence only that Plaintiff was
aware of Ms. Abbott’s race, not that she was aware of his.
Abbott also averred that she considered only the application
materials provided to her in making the selection decision, and
without any evidence that Ms. Abbott had access to or consulted
the Agency’s personnel records, or that Plaintiff’s race was
recorded therein, the Agency’s awareness of Plaintiff’s race due
to his prior employment cannot reasonably be imputed to Ms.
affidavit statement that she was unaware of Plaintiff’s race at
the time of the selection decision.
Plaintiff also argues that he “believes” that Mary Kelley,
“involved with the qualifications and selection [and] knew [his]
race” and “played a role in his non-selection.”
(ECF No. 12, at
The record evidence shows that only Ms. Abbott made the
Moreover, Ms. Kelley has also affirmed that she was unaware of
Plaintiff’s race until she was informed of his EEO complaint
(id. at 85), and Mr. Fergerson similarly affirmed that he “was
unaware of the age and race of the candidates” when he assisted
assertions that Ms. Abbott or other officials at the Agency were
aware of his race are unsupported by evidence, and accordingly
do not create a genuine issue of material fact.
In addition, Ms. Abbott, like Plaintiff, is African
(ECF No. 8-2, at 91).
Her membership “in the same
protected racial class as plaintiff. . . . weighs against an
inference of discrimination.”
Hammond v. Chao, 383 F.Supp.2d
47, 58 n.2 (D.D.C. 2005).
Legitimate, Non-Discriminatory Reason and Pretext
Even if Plaintiff could establish a prima facie case of
legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for not hiring him is a
pretext for discrimination.
Defendant has put forth evidence
supporting its stated reason for not selecting Plaintiff, which
is that he was not the most qualified of the applicants.
Plaintiff “was not selected because there were three eligible
candidates that were ranked higher than he was based on [her]
(ECF No. 8-2, at 92).
She further explained that Mr.
Segrist was selected because he was “the most qualified of the
applicants reviewed,” based on his experience and the fact that
he “possessed current skill sets in all four factors that each
candidate was evaluated against.”
(Id. at 93, 95).
noted that he had more than ten years of experience at the
Agency, including five within the FSB, and was “well versed with
duties outlined in the job analysis.”
(Id. at 93, 146-47).
Abbott determined that Mr. Segrist was “the most qualified of
the applicants reviewed.”
(Id. at 92-93).
The record further
reflects that Ms. Abbott ranked Plaintiff fourth among the five
candidates, finding that he was “qualified,” but noting that his
“resume presents management skill sets more than analytical.”
(Id. at 95; see also id. at 92, 97, 102, 112).
Ms. Abbott noted
current, experience in three of the four skill sets, and that it
was not apparent based on a review of his resume “if he was
activities,” the fourth requirement.
(Id. at 95, 97).
Abbott further affirmed that Plaintiff “was ranked number 4 on
the hiring managers list because his resume indicated he had
position in 2007 but no current experience,” while Mr. Segrist’s
“resume indicated current use of this skill set.”
(Id. at 102).
Plaintiff has produced no evidence of pretext.
In order to
show pretext, Plaintiff must “prove ‘both that the reason was
false, and that discrimination was the real reason.’”
Trustees of the Univ. of N.C.-Wilmington, 640 F.3d 550, 560 (4th
Cir. 2011) (quoting Jiminez v. Mary Washington Coll., 57 F.3d
369, 378 (4th Cir. 1995)).
Plaintiff argues that he was the most
qualified candidate based on his own assessment of his resume
and critique of Mr. Segrist’s resume.
He also argues that Mr.
Segrist’s experience and resume were falsified.
Plaintiff’s arguments liberally, they are wholly unfounded and
clearly contradicted by Defendant’s evidence.
Plaintiff does not offer evidence to dispute the legitimacy
of Ms. Abbott’s statement that she valued current use of the
required skills over prior experience in her evaluation of the
applications, or that management skills were less important for
the Program Analyst position than analytical skills.
argues that his resume demonstrated “specialized experience and
qualifications” that Mr. Segrist lacked (ECF No. 12, at 8), and
submits an affidavit attesting that, based on his own experience
and review of the applications, Mr. Segrist’s resume did not
accomplishments (ECF No. 12-12).
Plaintiff’s evaluations of his
and his competitor’s applications are not sufficient evidence
that Ms. Abbott’s nondiscriminatory reasons for Plaintiff’s nonselection are false.
See Evans, 80 F.3d at 960; Taylor v.
Brown, 928 F. Supp. 568, 574-75 (D.Md. 1995), aff’d, 86 F.3d
1152 (4th Cir. 1996) (“Plaintiff expresses his own views as to
his qualifications and the necessity for certain experience for
‘The self-perception of a plaintiff in an ADEA or
maker.’” (quoting Douglas v. PHH FleetAmerica Corp., 832 F.Supp.
1002, 1010 (D.Md. 1993))); see also Hawkins v. PepsiCo, Inc.,
improperly disputed the merits of poor performance evaluations
in a discriminatory discharge case rather than showing that the
termination”); Bostron v. Apfel, 104 F.Supp.2d 548, 556 (D.Md.
2000), aff’d, 2 F.App’x 235 (4th Cir. 2001) (“Standing alone,
self-serving claims of superiority in a Title VII case do not
Plaintiff also contends, as evidence of pretext, that he
was more qualified for the position than Mr. Segrist because he
was ranked second on the Certificate of Eligibles, while Mr.
Segrist was ranked fifth.
(ECF No. 12, at 8).
reflected only the candidates’ self-assessments, however.
Abbott affirmed that she did not consider the self-assessment
scores in making the selection, but based the decision only on
her review of the five applications using the criteria discussed
qualified candidates was provided to Ms. Abbott, she was free to
selecting official has the right to select or not select any
“fabricated Selectee’s background, interjected her abstract view
abstract view of Selectee’s background.”
(ECF No. 12, at 8; see
also id. at 12 (arguing that Plaintiff “believes Agency, HR, and
SO [Ms. Abbott] fabricated Selectee’s demonstrated specialized
speculation cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact.
discrimination was the real reason he was not selected.
is no evidence that Ms. Abbott was “motivated by any desire
suited for the position.”
Riley v. Honeywell Tech. Sols., Inc.,
evaluation . . . and
preselected, were properly discounted by the district court as
having no viable evidentiary support and as being insufficient
as a matter of law to establish pretext”); see also Hawkins, 203
legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for its selection decision
are pretextual, and accordingly, Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment will be granted.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Plaintiff has moved for partial summary judgment solely on
the issue of whether Ms. Abbott conducted an interview for the
(ECF No. 14).
The undisputed evidence in the record
shows that Ms. Abbott did not interview any of the candidates in
Defendant mistakenly stated in the factual background section of
his briefing that Ms. Abbott interviewed only Selectee.
No. 8-1, at 3 & n.2).
In reply, Defendant acknowledges this
error and argues that this issue is not relevant to the issue
before the court.
(ECF No. 16, at 5 n.3).
Pursuant to the
Agency Foreign Affairs Manual, “Selecting officials will have
the option of interviewing all, any or none of the candidates
(ECF Nos. 8-1, at 3 n.2; 8-2, at 194-95).
decision not to interview candidates is not a material issue,
Plaintiff has failed to establish a genuine dispute as to a
material fact with respect to both his prima facie case and the
legitimate nondiscriminatory reason articulated by Defendant for
his non-selection for the Program Analyst position.
entered against Plaintiff with respect to his claim of race
discrimination under Title VII.
Plaintiff’s motion for partial
summary judgment will be denied.
A separate order will follow.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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