Akerson v. Bryson

Filing 76

Judge Patti B. Saris: Redacted MEMORANDUM AND ORDER entered on 11/4/2013. The Court ALLOWS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 23 ) as follows: Count I: Summary judgment DENIED.Count II: Summary judgment ALLOWED. Count III: Summary judgment ALLOWED. Count IV: Summary judgment DENIED.(Baker, Casey)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS BONN I E AKERSON , Pl a in t iff, v. Ci v il Act i o n No . 12-10240-PBS PENNY PR IT ZKER Secretary of Commerce , a n d U. S . DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE , De f e n da n t . Saris , U. S . lJ . J . MEMORANDUM AND ORDER (Redacted June 3, 2021) November 4 , 2013 I. INTRODUCTION Pl a int iff Bonni e Akerson brings t hi s act i o n a ll eg ing t h at h er f ormer emp l oyer , t h e Uni ted States Ce n s u s Bu rea u, terminated h er emp l oyme n t becau se s h e i s Cau cas i a n a n d d i sab l ed , in v i o l at i o n o t ~ i t l e Vll o t t h e Ci v il Ri g h ts Act o t 1964 , 42 U. S . C § 2000 , a n d t h e Re h ab ili tat i o n Act o f 1973 , 29 U. S . C . § 701 . Sh e con te n ds t h at s h e was terminated in reta li at i o n f or requ est ing reaso n ab l e accommodat i o n s f or h er d i sabili ty , a n d t h at s h e was pa i d l ess t h a n a s i mil ar l y q u a liti ed ma l e emp l oyee in v i o l at i o n o f t h e Eq u a l Pay Act , 29 U. S . C . § 206 . De f e n da n t moves f or 1 s ummary judgme n t o n a ll c l a i ms . The Cou rt h eard ora l argume n t o n t h e mot i o n f or s ummary judgme n t o n J ul y 29 , 2013 . Af ter a rev i ew o t t h e record , t h e Cou rt DENIES Oe t e n da n t ' s M i o n t or Summary ot J u dgme n t o n Pl a in t iff ' s c l a i ms o f d i sab ili ty d i scr i minat i o n a n d reta li at i o n b u t ot h erw i se ALLOWS t h e mot i o n . (Docket 23 ) . II. STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS W e n a ll reaso n ab l e infere n ces are drawn in Pl a int iff ' s h t avor , t h e record con ta in s t h e t a ll owing t acts , whi c h are und i spu ted except wh ere n oted . 1 . Emplo-yment at the Census Bureau ln r'ebru ary 2008 , t h e Bu rea u o t t h e Ce n s u s posted a recrui t ing b ull et in f or Part n ers hi p Speci a li st ope nings in t h e Boston reg i o n a l o ffi ce . Part n ers hi p Speci a li sts were e lig i b l e f or pay at f o u r sa l ary grade l eve l s , GS - 7 , GS - 9 , GS - 11 , a n d GS - 12 . App li can ts coul d app l y to t h e pos i t i o n at o n e or more o t t h e t o u r grade l eve l s , depe n d ing o n t h e i r edu cat i o n a n d exper i e n ce . The b ull et in stated t h at app li can ts "[ m]ust s u bmi t a separate comp l eted App li cat i o n f or each grade l eve l app li ed ." Un der "HOW TO APPLY, " t h e post ing provi ded t h e t a ll owing in stru ct i o n s : Each app li can t mu st s u bmi t a comp l ete app li cat i o n f or each grade l eve l t h ey wi s h to app l y f or , u s ing t h e Opt i o n a l App li cat i o n f or Federa l Emp l oyme n t (OF-612 ) , or a res ume , li st ing yo u r work d u t i es a n d accomp li s hme n ts re l at ing to t h e j ob f or whi c h yo u are app l y ing . If o nl y o n e app li cat i o n i s rece i ved , yo u will be con s i dered o nly f or t h e l owest grade . 2 (e mp h as i s in or i g in a l) . Pl a in t iff , a Cau cas i a n f ema l e , app li ed o nl y f or t h e Part n ers hi p Spec i a li st pos i t i o n at t h e GS - 9 pay grade . Sh e d i d n ot app l y t or t h e ot h er t h ree grade l eve l s . Part n ers hi p Spec i a li sts were respo n s i b l e f or edu cat ing extern a l organi zat i o n s abo u t t h e u pcoming 2010 Ce n s u s a n d e n cou rag ing t h e m to e n ter into " part n ers hi p agreeme n ts " wi t h t h e Ce n s u s Bu rea u . By s i g ning a part n ers hi p agreeme n t , a n organi zat i o n agreed to dedi cate i ts t i me a n d reso u rces to promot ing t h e 2010 Ce n s u s . The 2010 Ce n s u s Part n ers hi p Agreeme n t r'orm li sts twe n ty- s i x ways in whi c h a " part n er " can s u pport t h e Bu rea u ' s e ff orts . Each part n er coul d commi t to o n e or more o f t h ese pro j ects (re f erred to as " commi tme n ts ") by c h ecking t h e appropr i ate boxes o n t h e agreeme n t f orm . De f . M . in Su pp ., Ex . em H (lJocket 26 ) . Pl a int iff began working as a Part n ers hi p Speci a li st (GS - 9 ) o n May 12 , 2008 . De f e n da n t pa i d Pl a int iff at t h e GS - 9 sa l ary l eve l . Car l os Linera , Pl a int iff ' s ma l e co ll eagu e , app li ed f or t h e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st pos i t i o n at t h e GS - 11 pay grade , a n d h e was pa i d at t h e hi g h er l eve l . The Part n ers hi p Speci a li st pos i t i o n s at t h e GS - 9 a n d GS - 11 l eve l s invo l ved s u bstan t i a ll y t h e same respo n s i b ili t i es . At t h e t i me o f Pl a int iff ' s e mp l oyme n t , at l east o n e t ema l e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st was pa i d at t h e GS - 11 3 salary level . EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 311 (Kalaitzidis Test . ) (Docket 42 , Ex . A) . ~ l aintitt had two s u pervi sors at d itterent points during her employme nt : Cesar Monzon , a Hi spani c male , a n d Ana M i a Garc i a , ar a Hi spanic female . M onzon interviewed , hired and then supervised Plaintiff from her initial hiring date until December 23 , 2008 , when Garc ia became her new supervisor . At al l times during Plaintiff ' s employment , Kathleen Ludgate , a Caucasian female , was the Director o f the Boston Regi o nal Ce nsu s Offi ce . 4 3. Work Perfo rmance In October of 2008 , Plaintiff received a performance evaluation conducted by Monzon . On a scale ot one (unacceptable performance) to five (highest level of performance) , Plaintiff received a rating of "threen (acceptable performance) in all four evaluated categories . However , she received criticisms in two areas . Monzon ' s review stated that Pl aintitt needed to execute more timely follow-up with external partners and establish a time line for one of her projects . On or about November 3 , 2008 , Plaintiff ' s office instituted a po l icy that al l Partnership Specia l ists were to submit a minimum of ten signed partnership agreements per week . Laura 5 M edran o , a Hi spani c Part n ers hi p Spec i a li st , test ifi ed as to h er understan d ing t h at s h e coul d meet t h e q u ota by obta ining te n tota l commi t me n ts (t or examp l e , by s u bmi tt ing two part n ers hi p agreeme n t f orms , each wi t h fi ve commi t me n ts c h ecked o ff o n t h e f orm) . EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 303 - 4 (Medran o Test . ) (Docket 34 , Ex . 1 ) M n zon test ifi ed t h at t h e requi re me n t was te n agreements per o week , as communi cated to Speci a li sts at two November meet ings . EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 236 - 38 (Mo n zon Test . ) (Docket 26 , Ex . A) . Du r ing t h e n ext t h ree mo n t h s , Pl a int itt was coun se l ed by h er s u pervi sors at l east s i x t imes regarding h er f a ilu re to meet t h e part n ers hi p agreeme n t q u ota . On November 26 , 2008 , M n zon spoke o wi t h Pl a int iff abo u t h er l ow numbers . He a l so expressed con cern t h at s h e h ad n ot yet s u bmi tted a part n ers hi p agreeme n t res ul t ing f rom a b u s iness tr i p to Bu r lington , Vermo n t . Pl a int iff e n tered t h e agreeme n t f rom h er Vermon t tr i p into t h e database approx imate l y o n e mon t h a f ter t hi s con versat i o n . On December~ , 2008 , M n zon met wi t h Pl a int itt to d i scu ss o h er f a ilu re to obta in te n s i g n ed agreeme n ts per week . I n a n e ma il dated December 18 , 2008 , M n zon wrote , " yo u r number [ s ] h ave o to increase ." De f . M m. in Su pp ., Ex . J e (Docket 26 ) . On Janu ary ~ , 2009 , Pl a int itt was coun se l ed abo u t prob l e ms meet ing h er q u ota o n a te l eph o n e ca ll wi t h M n zon a n d Garc i a a n d in a n ema il f rom o Garc i a t h e f o ll owing day . 6 In l ate Janu ary o f 2009 , Pl a in t iff tw i ce met wi t h Garc i a regard ing h er work per f orman ce a n d part n ers hi p agreeme n ts . Pl a in t itt descr i bed t h e meet ings as "heated " a n d " ser i o u s " a n d be li eved h er j ob mi g h t be in j eopardy . EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 101 ( Pl . Test . ) (Docket 26 , Ex . A) . Du r ing o n e o f t h ese meet ings , Garc i a stated t h at Pl a int iff was o n probat i o n . At t h e l ast o f t h ese meet ings , o n Janu ary 23 , 2009 , Garc i a d i scu ssed wi t h Pl a int itt t h e f act t h at s h e h ad s u bmi tted o nl y seve n part n ers hi p agreeme n ts f or t h e week , n o n e o f whi c h con ta ined or i g in a l s i g n at u res a n d two o f whi c h were dated f rom October o f t h e previ o u s year . ln addi t i o n to t h e o n go ing cr i t i c i sm o t Pl a int itt ' s per f orman ce wi t h respect to part n ers hi p agreeme n ts , fi ve ot h er in c i de n ts bear o n Pl a int iff ' s work per f orma n ce a n d interact i o n s wi t h co ll eagu es . On December 29 - 30 , 2009 , Pl a int iff a n d M n zon o exch a n ged a seri es o t ema il s regarding "Hudso n Co ll ege , " o nl y l ater d i scovering each was re f erring to a d iffere n t "Hudso n Co ll ege . " De f . M m. in Su pp ., Ex . L (Docket 26 ) . Pl a int iff f e l t e t h at M n zon ' s e ma il ed rep l y con st i t u ted a n unf a i r cr i t i c i sm . On o Janu ary~ , 2009 , Pl a int itt se n t a n ema il li st ing o n e o t her u pcoming meet ings as "Tufts De n ta l , " b u t was n ot expli c i t wi t h h er s u pervi sors t h at i t was a person a l medi ca l appo intme n t a n d 7 n ot a b u s iness meet ing , whi c h cau sed confu s i o n . 1 De f . M m. in e Su pp ., Ex . M (Docket 26 ) . Contli ct arose betwee n Pl a in t itt a n d Ludgate , wh o i s a l so Cau cas i a n . At o n e po in t , Pl a in t iff c l a i ms t h at Ludgate ye ll ed at h er a n d cr i t i c i zed h er f or be ing l ate to l eave f or a tr i p to Rh ode I s l a n d wi t h a n ot h er Part n ers hi p Speci a li st , wh o i s Af r i canAmer i can . Pl a int itt avers t h at Ludgate d i d n ot s i mil ar l y repr i man d t h e ot h er Part n ers hi p Speci a li st , wh o was equ a ll y respo n s i b l e f or t h e mi scommuni cat i o n . Ludgate de ni es t h at s h e ye ll ed at Pl a int iff a n d c l a i ms t h at s h e a l so spoke to t h e ot h er Part n ers hi p Speci a li st abo u t t i me man ageme n t con cern s . Oe t . M . em in Su pp ., Ex . I (Docket 26 ) . On Janu ary 14 , 2009 , Ludgate cr i t i c i zed Pl a int iff ' s preparat i o n f or a meet ing wi t h t h e Boston Ch amber o f Commerce t h at day . Ludgate expressed i rr i tat i o n t h at Pl a int itt h ad n ot printed d i rect i o n s to t h e meet ing l ocat i o n be f ore t h ey l e f t t h e The ema il li sts two "Meet ings t hi s week , " o n e wi t h t h e Uni ted Au to Workers a n d o n e wi t h Tufts De n ta l . Be f ore l eaving f or a person a l de n ta l appo intme n t o n Janu ary 6 , 2009 , Pl a int itt l e t t a medi ca l l eave s li p o n M n zon ' s c h a i r . At t hi s po int , Garc i a o s u pervi sed Pl a int iff , n ot M n zon . De f e n da n t ' s Si ck Leave Po li cy o states t h at emp l oyees wi t h sch edul ed medi ca l appo intme n ts mu st "not if y yo u r s u pervi sor as f ar in advan ce as poss i b l e " a n d prepare a Requ est f or Leave or Approved Abse n ce f orm f or s u pervi sor approva l . De f . M . in Su pp ., Ex . N (Docket 26 ) . em Pl a int iff d i d n ot s u bmi t docu me n tat i o n o f h er appo intme n t in advan ce . On Janu ary 6 , 2009 , Garc i a ema il ed Pl a int itt , stat ing t h at s h e was " contu sed" by Pl a int itt' s Janu ary~ , 2009 ema il abo u t t h e two sch edul ed meet ings . De f . M . in Su pp ., Ex . M em (Docket 26 ) . 1 8 Census office . When Plaintiff and Ludgate arrived at t h e Boston Chamber o f Commerce , Chamber representatives said that they were unprepared t or the meeting because they d id not have it on the schedu l e . Plaintiff had booked the meeting months before but had not confirmed it . Ludgate reported this incident to both Garc i a and M onzon . Fina l ly , on Jan uary 20 , 2009 , Pl aintitt sent an email to Garc ia and Monzon inquiring about the tax impl i cation s o f col lege student residency . M nz o n referred Plaintiff t o a manual o regarding residence rules . He and Garcia later criti cized Plaintitt because they believed she ought to have known the answer . 4. Leave of Absence and Termination 9 Furthermore , upon her return , Plaintiff found her desk had been moved to a ditterent l ocation , and her duties had been reassigned . She was instructed to train co - workers on a software program, rather than continue worki ng o n the Colleges and Universities Initiative as she had prior to her leave . On r'ebruary 12 , 2009 , Uetendant sent a termination letter to Plaintiff . Def . Mem . in Supp ., Ex . E (Docket 26) . Defendant asserts that the decision to terminate Plaintiff came in January of 2009 , before her medical leave of absence began on January 26 . Monzon testitied that he recommended Plaintiff ' s termination around January 13 . EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 254 , 281-82 (Monz on Test . ) (Docket 26 , Ex . A) . Garcia testified that she recommended Plaintiff' s termination to her supervisor around January 23 , with a tentative termination date ot January 30 . EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 350 (Garcia Test . ) (Docket 26 , Ex . A) . Defendant did not provide documentation to support this testimony about the timing of the decision . Although Garcia and Monzon both testify that their recommendations went to the Boston ~egional Ottice ' s coordinator of administration , it is not clear who from 10 "headqu arters " ul t i mate l y approved Pl a in t iff ' s terminat i o n . I d . at 349-50 ; EEOC Hr ' g Tr . at 254 (Mo n zon Test . ) (Docket 26 , Ex . A) . M n zon s i g n ed t h e terminat i o n l etter . o Du r ing Garc i a ' s te nu re at t h e Ce n s u s Bu rea u , s h e s u perv i sed two ot h er Part n ers hi p Spec i a li sts wh o were terminated , a Cau cas i a n ma l e f or in s u bordinat i o n a n d a n Af r i can-Amer i can f ema l e f or per f orman ce i ss u es . I d . at 350 - 51 . III. ANALYSIS A. Standard of Review Summary judgme n t i s appropr i ate wh e n t h ere i s "no ge nuine i ss u e as to a n y mater i a l f act a n d t h e movan t i s e n t i t l ed to judgme n t as a matter o f l aw ." Fed . R . Ci v . P . 56 (a ). To s u cceed o n a mot i o n t or s ummary judgme n t , t h e moving party mu st demo n strate t h at t h ere i s a n " abse n ce o f evi de n ce s u pport ing t h e n o n-moving party ' s case ." San ds v . Ri de fil m Corp ., 212 F. 3d 657 , 660 (1st Ci r . 2001 ) (c i t ing Ce l otex Corp . v . Catrett , 477 U. S . 31 '/ , 32!J (1986 )). The b u rde n t h e n s hifts to t h e n o n-moving party to set f ort h specifi c f acts s h owing t h at t h ere i s a ge nuine i ss u e o f mater i a l f act f or tr i a l. Ouino n es v . Ho u ser Bui ck , 436 F. 3d 284 , 289 (1st Ci r . 2006 ). A ge nuine i ss u e ex i sts wh ere t h e evi de n ce i s " s uffi c i e n t l y ope n- e n ded to permi t a rat i o n a l f act fin der to reso l ve t h e i ss u e in f avor o f e i t h er s i de ." Nat ' l Amu seme n ts , In c . v . Town o f Dedh am , 43 F. 3d 731 , 735 (1st Ci r . 1995 ), cert . 11 de ni ed , 515 U. S . 1103 (1995 ) . A mater i a l f act i s " o n e t h at h as t h e pote n t i a l o f a ff ect ing t h e o u tcome o f t h e case ." Ca l ero Cerezo v . U. S . Dep ' t o f J u st i ce , 355 F . 3d 6 , 19 (1st Ci r . 2004 ) . " If t h e ev i de n ce i s mere l y co l orab l e or i s n ot s i g nifi can t l y probat i ve , s ummary judgme n t may be gran ted ." Anderso n v . Li bert y Lobb y , In c ., 477 U. S . 242 , 2 4 9- 50 (1 986 ) (intern a l c i tat i o n s omi tted ) . ln i ts revi ew o t t hi s evi de n ce , t h e Cou rt mu st examine t h e f acts in t h e lig h t most f avorab l e to t h e n o nmoving party h ere , Pl a int iff - a n d draw a ll reaso n ab l e infere n ces in h er f avor . San ds , 212 F . 3d at 661 . "In t h e fin a l a n a l ys i s , Cou rt J i s requi red to determine it [t h e ' t h ere i s s utti c i e n t evi de n ce f avor ing t h e n o nmoving party f or a jury to ret u r n a verdi ct f or t h at party .' " I d . (c i t ing Anderso n , 447 U. S . at 249 ) . B. Race Discrimination Ti t l e VII prohi b i ts e mp l oyme n t d i scriminat i o n o n t h e bas i s o f race . 42 U. S . C § 2000e - 2 (a ) (1 ) . Pl a int iff a ll eges t h at t h e De f e n da n t v i o l ated Ti t l e VII by s u b j ect ing h er to d i sparate treatme n t becau se s h e i s Cau cas i a n . The Cou rt a n a l yzes t hi s c l a i m under t h e f amili ar McDonne ll Dougl as b u rde n- s hift ing f ramework . Bhatt i v . Tr u stees o f Boston Uni v ., 659 F . 3d 64 , 70 (1st Ci r . 2011 ) (c i t ing McDonne ll Dougl as Corp . v . Gree n , 411 U. S . 792 , 802 (19 '/3 )) . r'i rst , a p l a int itt mu st mo un t a pr i ma t ac i e c l a im o t race d i scri minat i o n . Bhatt i , 659 F . 3d at 70 . The b u rde n s hifts to t h e emp l oyer to rebu t t h e p l a int iff ' s c l a i m by o ff ering a 12 l eg i t i mate , n o n- d i scr iminatory bas i s f or i ts e mp l oyme n t dec i s i o n . I d . The b u rde n t h e n ret u r n s to t h e p l a in t iff to s h ow t h at t h e reaso n s o ff ered are mere pretext , a n d t h e rea l bas i s f or t h e adverse act i o n was h er race . I d . 1 . Pl a in t iff ' s Pr i ma Fac i e Case To establi s h a pr ima f ac i e case o f rac i a l d i scriminat i o n based o n d i sparate treatme n t , a p l a int iff mu st s h ow t h at (1 ) s h e be l o n gs to a protected c l ass ; (2 ) h er j ob per f orma n ce met h er e mp l oyer ' s l eg i t imate expectat i o n s ; (3 ) s h e s utt ered a n adverse e mp l oyme n t act i o n ; a n d ( 4 ) t h ere i s some evi de n ce o f a cau sa l connect i o n betwee n h er members hi p in a protected c l ass a n d t h e adverse e mp l oyme n t act i o n . Ch am v . Stat i o n Operators , In c ., 685 .L 3d 8 '/ , 93 - 94 (1st Ci r . 2012 ) ; Bh att i , 6~9 .L 3d at '/0 . .P l a int itt i s Cau cas i a n . The Su preme Cou rt h as h e l d t h at becau se t h e l a n g u age o f Ti t l e VII i s "not limi ted to d i scriminat i o n aga in st members o f a n y part i c ul ar race " , t h e stat u te prohi b i ts rac i a l d i scriminat i o n aga inst Cau cas i a n e mp l oyees "upon t h e same stan dards as wo ul d be app li cab l e " to n o n-whi te e mp l oyees . McDon a l d v . San ta Fe Tra n s p . Co ., 427 U. S . 273 , 278 - 80 (1976 ) 2 Effect i ve l y , t h e McDon a l d Cou rt con c luded t h at a ll ind i v i d u a l s are members o f a protected c l ass f or p u rposes o f Ti t l e VII rac i a l d i scriminat i o n cases , making t h e fi rst pron g o f t h e pr ima f ac i e case a nulli ty . The Seve n t h Ci rcui t h as dropped t hi s pron g in cases wi t h whi te pet i t i o n ers , rep l ac ing i t wi t h a stri cter requi re me n t t h at t h e p l a int iff s h ow " background c i rcumstan ces t h at de mo n strate t h at a part i c ul ar e mp l oyer h as reaso n or in c linat i o n to d i scriminate inv i d i o u s l y aga in st whi tes or evi de n ce t h at t h ere i s somet hing fi s h y abo u t t h e f acts at h a n d ." 2 13 Plaintiff ' s supervisors gave her a rating of "three '' in all categories of her October 2008 eva l uation , indicating a satistactory level ot pertormance . Ct . Douglas v . J . C . Penney Co ., 442 F . Supp . 2d 260 , 273 (D . Mass . 2006) , aff ' d , 474 F . 3d 10 (1st Cir . 2007) (although the plaintiff ' s performance reviews "were not without criticism, for the most part they describe a leve l ot job pertormance that is , at a minimum , satistactory") . Wi th the first two pro n gs met , the Court turn s to the th i rd . An employment action is adverse if it materially alters the conditions of the workplace and terms of the employment . Cham , 68~ b'. 3d at 94 . ~laintitt alleges that she suttered tive adverse actions on account of her race : (1) (2) the exchange between Monzon , Garcia , and Plaintiff regarding Plaintiff ' s January 20 , 2009 email inquiring about census rules regarding college student residency ; (3) Ludgate ' s response to the miscommunication between Pl aintiff and her co-worker regarding meeting time and location for their Rhode Island trip ; (4) Ludgate ' s criticism of ~ l aintitt ' s preparation tor the Hoston Chamber ot Commerce meeting ; and (5) Plaintiff ' s termination . Henry v . Jones , ~0·1 b' . 3d ~~8 , ~64 ('Ith Cir . 200 ·1) (internal quotations omitted) . The First Circuit has thus far retained the traditional prima facie framework . 14 W e n t h e c h a ll e n ged act i o n s are examined f rom t h e ob j ect i ve h perspect i ve o f a reaso n ab l e emp l oyee , each o f t h e fi rst f o u r in c i de n ts does n ot r i se to t h e l eve l o t a n adverse act i o n . See Billing s v . Town o f Gra f to n , 515 F . 3d 39 , 54 (1st Ci r . 2008 ) . To be adverse , a n emp l oyme n t act i o n mu st be more t h a n a n ob j ect i o n ab l e exch a n ge , h owever mu c h a n in c i de n t mi g h t d i sp l ease t h e emp l oyee or cau se l eg i t i mate hu rt t ee lings . M ora l es Va ll e ll a n es v . Potter , 605 F . 3d 27 , 35 (1st Ci r . 2010 ) , cert . de ni ed , 131 S . Ct . 978 (2011 ) . An adverse act i o n " typ i ca ll y invo l ves d i screte c h a n ges in t h e terms o f emp l oyme n t , s u c h as hi r ing , ti r ing , t a iling to promote , reass i g nme n t wi t h s i g nifi can t l y d iffere n t respo n s i b ili t i es , or a dec i s i o n cau s ing s i g nifi can t c h a n ge in be n e fi ts . " I d . (intern a l q u otat i o n omi tted ) . Beginning wi t h t h e ti rst c h a ll e n ged act i o n , Mr . M n zon ' s o a ll eged con d u ct d i d n ot mater i a ll y a l ter t h e terms o f h er emp l oyme n t . The secon d in c i de n t s u rro und ing Pl a int iff ' s ema il inq ui ry , as v i ewed f rom t h e stan dpo int o f a reaso n ab l e emp l oyee , d i d n ot r i se to t h e l eve l o f a n adverse act i o n . M n zon ' s respo n se o e ma il o ff ered a stra i g h t f orward a n swer to Pl a int iff ' s q u est i o n , a n d t h e s u bsequ e n t cr i t i q u e f rom M n zon a n d Garc i a was n ot o d i sc i p linary in n at u re . Bhatt i , 659 F . 3d at 73 (cr i t i c i sms " mere l y d i rected at correct ing " work per t orman ce do n ot r i se to t h e l eve l o f adverse act i o n s ) . As f or t h e t hi rd a n d f o u rt h 15 a ll eged adverse act i o n s , verba l cr i t i c i s m, eve n if spoke n in a to n e t h at p u s h es t h e bounds o f pro f ess i o n a li sm , does n ot con st i t u te a n adverse act i o n wh e n un accompani ed by a n y tan g i b l e con sequ e n ce . I d .; see a l so Lee - Cres p o v . Sch er ing- Pl o ugh De l Car i be , In c ., 354 F . 3d 34 , 47 (1st Ci r . 2003 ) (observing t h at " a s u pervi sor ' s unpro f ess i o n a l ma n ager i a l approach a n d accompan y ing e tt orts to assert h er a u t h or i ty are n ot t h e t ocu s o t t h e d i scriminat i o n l aws " ) . Pl a int iff ' s termin at i o n q u a lifi es as a textbook adverse act i o n , so t h e Cou rt t u r n s to t h e f o u rt h step in t h e pr ima f ac i e a n a l ys i s . Pl a int itt does n ot expli c i t l y descr i be h ow h er termin at i o n was cau sa ll y connected to h er race . Tho u g h s h e asserts ge n era ll y t h at s h e was treated more h ars hl y t h a n n o nCau cas i a n e mp l oyees wh e n s h e was termin ated , s h e does n ot po int to evi de n ce t h at wo ul d permi t a reaso n ab l e jury to int er t h at h er termin at i o n h ad a n yt hing to do wi t h be ing Cau cas i a n . W hil e t h e t iming o f t h e termin at i o n may h ave bee n fi s h y (more o n t h at l ater ) , t h ere i s n ot hing abo u t t h e termin at i o n whi c h s u ggests race (as opposed to a d i sabili ty - re l ated matter ) . ~he o nl y in stan ce in whi c h s h e asserts s h e was treated more h ars hl y invo l ved a s i t u at i o n wh ere s h e f e l t s h e was unf a i r l y cr i t i c i zed f or be ing l ate to a meet ing , b u t a n equ a ll y respo n s i b l e Af r i canAmer i can co ll eagu e was n ot s imil ar l y cr i t i c i zed . Al t h o u g h a p l a int iff ' s b u rde n to de mo n strate a pr ima f ac i e case "i s n ot a n 16 o n erou s o n e ," Be n o i t v . Tech . Mfg . Corp ., 331 F . 3d 166 , 173 (1st Ci r . 2003 ) , vagu e assert i o n s cou p l ed wi t h h er accoun t o f t hi s o n e in c i de n t , whi c h i s n ot eve n me n t i o n ed in t h e terminat i o n l etter , are n ot s uffi c i e n t . 2 . Ag e n c y ' s Pro f erred Le gi t i mate , Non- Di scr i minator y Reaso n f or Di smi ssa l a n d Pretext f or Di scri minat i o n Eve n if t h e Cou rt ass umes t h at Pl a int iff h as made o u t a pr ima t ac i e case o t d i scri minat i o n , h er c l a i m t a il s under t h e secon d a n d t hi rd steps o f t h e McDonne ll Dougl as b u rde n- s hift ing reg i me . Pl a int iff does n ot d i spu te t h at De f e n da n t h as art i c ul ated a l aw ful , n o n- d i scri minatory reaso n f or Pl a int iff ' s termin at i o n : h er poor per t orman ce , as descr i bed in h er terminat i o n l etter . See De f . M . in Su pp ., Ex . E (Docket 26 ) . em At t h e t hi rd step o f t h e a n a l ys i s , t h e b u rde n s hifts back to Pl a int iff to s h ow t h at t h e Age n cy ' s pro ff ered reaso n i s " a coveru p " t or d i scri minat i o n . McDonne ll Dougl as , 411 U. S . at 80~ . Pretext can be s h own t h ro u g h evi de n ce hi g hli g h t ing " weakn esses , imp l a u s i b ili t i es , in con s i ste n c i es , in coh ere n c i es , or con tradi ct i o n s " in t h e emp l oyer ' s reaso n s . San t i a g o - Ramos v . Ce n te nni a l P . k . W re l ess Corp . , 21 ·1 .L 3d 4 6 , ~4 ( 1st Ci r . 2000 ) i Pl a int iff argu es t h at h er terminat i o n l etter con ta ins fi ve de fi c i e n c i es , a n d t hu s t h e rea l reaso n f or h er terminat i o n was h er race . Becau se h er assert i o n s a l so bear o n t h e d i sabili ty 17 d i scr i minat i o n a n a l ys i s be l ow , t h e Cou rt compre h e n s i ve l y addresses each a ll eged de fi c i e n cy h ere . Pl a in t itt argu es t h at t h e l etter erron eou s l y dec l ares t h at s h e f a il ed to i mprove o n i ss u es i de n t ifi ed in h er October 2008 per f orman ce rev i ew . The terminat i o n l etter d i scu sses t h e two areas o f con cern i de n t ifi ed at t hi s per f orman ce revi ew : c u stomer servi ce a n d p l a n i mp l eme n tat i o n . W hil e t h e l etter does n ot state t h at terminat i o n was abo u t a f a ilu re to i mprove , i t does f ocu s o n mul t i p l e per f orman ce de fi c i e n c i es . Pl a int iff argu es t h at t h e terminat i o n l etter f a l se l y states t h at s h e d i d n ot s u bmi t a part n ers hi p agreeme n t t orm t ram h er tr i p to Bu r lington , Vermon t . De f e n da n t agrees t h at t h e l etter i s incorrect , a n d Pl a int iff d i d s u bmi tted a s i g n ed f orm f rom t hi s tr i p . I t i s und i spu ted , t h o u g h , t h at t h e comp l eted f orm was n ot s u bmi tted un t il a mon t h a t ter M n zon reminded Pl a int itt to s u bmi t o i t . Pl a int iff does n ot d i spu te t h at M n zon a l so coun se l ed h er o abo u t "ine ff ect i ve p l a nning " f or h er tr i p . Next , Pl a int iff argu es t h at t h e l etter erron eou s l y a ll eges t h at s h e mi sreprese n ted a person a l appo intme n t at ~ut ts Ue n ta l as a b u s iness meet ing . The l etter i tse lf does n ot c l a i m t h at Pl a int iff inte n ded to mi s l ead h er s u pervi sors . In stead , i t descr i bes h ow Pl a int iff ' s Janu ary 5 , 2009 ema il confu sed h er s u pervi sors , a n d l ed Garc i a to "int orm lJ lher J o t t h e seri o u s n ess o f provi d ing erron eou s informat i o n regarding b u s iness re l ated 18 meet ings " d u r ing t h e i r Janu ary 7 , 2009 meet ing . W hil e Pl a in t iff may h ave f e l t t h at Garc i a overreacted to a mi scommuni cat i o n , t h e ema il was contu s ing . Yew o t u s wo ul d li st a doctor ' s appo in tme n t as a " meet ing t hi s week ." M ost s i g nifi can t l y , Pl a in t iff ob j ects to t h e terminat i o n l etter ' s descr i pt i o n o f Pl a int iff ' s s u pposed in ab ili ty to meet h er part n ers hi p agreeme n t q u ota . Du r ing t h e t a ll o t 2008 , De f e n da n t adopted t h e po li cy requi r ing each Part n ers hi p Speci a li st to comp l ete a minimu m o f te n agreeme n ts each week . Pl a int iff does n ot d i spu te t h at t hi s expectat i o n was communi cated to a ll Part n ers hi p Speci a li sts in t h e Hoston o tti ce in ear l y November 2008 . Pl a int iff po ints to evi de n ce t h at La u ra M edran o , a Hi spani c Part n ers hi p Speci a li st , understood t h e po li cy as a requi reme n t to obta in te n tota l commitments f rom part n ers , b u t Pl a int iff does n ot o ff er evi de n ce t h at M edran o ' s interpretat i o n represe n ted o ffi ce po li cy . Indeed , Pl a int iff h erse lf test ifi ed t h at " everybody h ad to meet t h e q u ota . " ~~OC Hr ' g ~ r . at 106 (Pl . Test . ) (Docket 26 , Ex . A) . I t i s und i spu ted t h at Pl a int iff f a il ed to meet t hi s q u ota . Sh e was coun se l ed abo u t t hi s de fi c i e n cy o n at l east s i x occas i o n s betwee n November 2008 a n d Janu ary 2009 , a n d s h e repeatedl y s u bmi tted part n ers hi p agreeme n ts wi t h errors , s u c h as mi ss ing or i g in a l s i g n at u res a n d a l tered Part n er commi t me n ts . Non e o f Pl a int iff ' s assert i o n s , eve n take n toget h er , a mo un t to a s h owing t h at t h e " tru e reaso n" f or h er termin at i o n i s rac i a l 19 d i sc rimin at i o n . San t i a g o - Ramos , 217 F . 3d at 54 . Whil e t h e terminat i o n l etter con ta ins o n e inaccu racy , t h e record at s ummary judgme n t s u pports t h e ge n era l t h r u st o t t h e l etter ' s stated reaso n s f or h er terminat i o n . Pl a in t iff o ff ers li tt l e to n o ev i de n ce t h at t h e terminat i o n i tse lf was t h e res ul t o f rac i a l b i as . See Bhatt i, 659 F. 3d at 72 . Pl a int iff does n ot d i spu te t h at t h e o nl y ot h er Part n ers hi p Speci a li st s u pervi sed by Garc i a wh o was termin ated f or poor per f orman ce was Af r i can-Amer i can. W hil e n ot determin at i ve , t hi s n egates Pl a int iff ' s con te n t i o n t h at s h e was treated d iffere n t l y t h a n s imil ar l y - s i t u ated n o n- Cau cas i a n e mp l oyees wh e n s h e was terminated o n accoun t o t her j ob per f orman ce . According l y , De f e n da n t ' s M i o n f or Summary J u dgmen t i s ot ALLOWED wi t h respect to Pl a int itt' s rac i a l d i scri minat i o n c l a i m. C. Disability Discrimination The Re h ab ili tat i o n Act , whi c h app li es to f edera l age n c i es , prohi b i ts emp l oyme n t d i scri minat i o n aga in st a d i sabl ed person o n t h e bas i s o f h er d i sabili ty . 3 29 U. S . C . § 794 . For p u rposes o f s ummary judgme n t , t h e Cou rt revi ews Pl a int iff ' s c l a i m under t h e Cases brou g h t under t h e Amer i can s wi t h Di sabili t i es Act o f 1990 (ADA) a n d jur i spru de n ce regarding t h at stat u te are a l so instru ct i ve f or t hi s Cou rt ' s a n a l ys i s , as li ab ili ty stan dards are t h e same under t h e ADA a n d t h e ke h ab ili tat i o n Act . See 29 U. S . C . § ·; 91 (g ) ; see a l so Quil es - Quil es v . He n derso n, 439 r'. 3d 1 , ~ ( 1st Ci r . 2006 ); Ca l ero - Cerezo v . U. S . De p t . o f J u st i ce , 355 F. 3d 6 , 19 (1 st Ci r . 2004 ) (" [T]he case l aw con struing t h e ADA ge n era ll y perta in s equ a ll y to c l a i ms under t h e Re h ab ili tat i o n Act ."). 3 20 McDonne ll Dougl as b u rde n- s hif t ing f ramework descr i bed above . Ri os - J ime n ez v . Pr in c ipi , 520 F . 3d 31 , 40 - 41 (1st Ci r . 2008 ) . 1. Prima Facie Case To p u t f ort h a pr ima f ac i e s h ow ing o f d i sab ili ty d i scr i minat i o n , a p l a in t iff mu st de mo n strate t h at (1 ) s h e was d i sab l ed wi t hin t h e meaning o f t h e Re h ab ili tat i o n Act ; (2 ) s h e was q u a liti ed to per t orm t h e esse n t i a l tun ct i o n s o t t h e j ob , e i t h er wi t h or wi t h o u t a reaso n ab l e accommodat i o n ; a n d (3 ) t h e de f e n da n t took adverse act i o n aga in st h er becau se o f h er d i sabili ty . I d . at 4 1 (c i t ing Ba il e y v . Georgi a - Pacifi c Corp ., 306 r' . 3d 1162 , 1166 (1st Ci r . 2002 )) . Oe t e n da n t d i spu tes t h at Pl a int iff i s d i sab l ed as t h at term i s de fin ed by t he Re h ab ili tat i o n Act , a n d if s h e i s , t h at s h e was terminated becau se o f h er d i sabili ty . Di sabili ty under t h e ke h ab ili tat i o n Act may be establi s h ed under t h e " act u a l d i sabili ty pron g " t h ro u g h a s h owing o f a p h ys i ca l or me n ta l impa i r me n t whi c h s u bstan t i a ll y limi ts o n e or more ma j or life act i v i t i es . 28 U. S . C . § 12102 (1 ) ; Carreras v . Sa j o , Garc i a & Part n ers , ~96 r' . 3d 2~ , 33 (1st Ci r . 2010 ) . Un der t hi s de fini t i o n , t h e Cou rt examines (1 ) wh et h er t h e p l a int iff s uffers f rom a me n ta l or p h ys i ca l impa i r me n t ; (2 ) wh et h er t h e impa i r me n t limi ts a life act i v i ty t h at q u a lifi es as ma j or ; a n d (3 ) wh et h er t h e i mpa i r me n t s u bstan t i a ll y limi ts t h e ma j or lit e 21 act i v i ty . Carreras , 596 F . 3d at 32 . " The b u rde n i s o n t h e p l a in t iff to estab li s h t h ese t h ree e l eme n ts ." I d . The 2008 ADA Ame n dme n ts Act ( " ADAAA" ) , whi c h con ta in s a conf ormi ty prov i s i o n f or t h e Re h ab ili tat i o n Act , prov i des g ui da n ce f or cou rts assess ing wh et h er a p l a in t iff i s d i sab l ed . See 42 U. S . C . § 12102 . Un der t h e a me n ded ADA, "[ t ]he de fini t i o n o t d i sabili ty o f ind i v i d u a l s . s h a ll be con stru ed in t avor o t broad coverage . to t h e max imum exte n t permi tted by t h e [Ame n dme n ts ] ." 42 U. S . C . § 12102 ( 4 ) (A) . Indeed , " t h e pr i mary p u rpose o f t h e ADAAA i s to make i t eas i er f or peop l e wi t h d i sabili t i es to obta in protect i o n under t h e AlJA . " 29 C . r' . .K . § 1630 . l (c ) ( 4 ) . An impa i rme n t t h e Re h ab ili tat i o n Act if i t i s a d i sabili ty wi t hin t h e meaning o f " s u bstan t i a ll y limi ts t h e ab ili ty o f a n ind i v i d u a l to per f orm a ma j or life act i v i ty as compared to most peop l e in t h e ge n era l popul at i o n . " 29 C . .L .K . § 1630 . 2 (j) ( 1 ) . The ADAAA took e ff ect Janu ary 1 , 2009 - just over a mo n t h be f ore Pl a int iff was termin ated f rom h er pos i t i o n . The ADAAA does n ot app l y retroact i ve l y to con d u ct occu rr ing be f ore t h e Act took e tt ect . Thorn to n v . Uni ted .Parce l Serv ., ln c ., ~8 '/ r' . 3d 2 ·1, 34 (1st Ci r . 2009 ) . Becau se t h e cru x o f Pl a int iff ' s d i sabili ty d i scriminat i o n c l a i m con cern s con d u ct occu rr ing a f ter Janu ary 1 , 2009 - in c lud ing severa l meet ings wi t h h er s u pervi sors , h er l eave o t abse n ce , h er requ est t or accommodat i o n s , a n d h er terminat i o n - 22 the Court will evaluate her disability discrimination claims with respect to the new ADA standards . With that background , the Court returns to the three-part Carreras test , bearing in mind that court s "must determine the existence of a d i sability ' o n a case-by-case basis . '" 596 F . 3d at 33 (citing Albertson ' s , Inc . v . Kirkingburg . 527 U. S . 555 , 566 (1999)) . Pl aintitt ' s condition satisties the tir st prong o t Carreras . 23 Having concluded that a genuine issue ot material tact exists as to whether Plaintiff is disabled , the Court briefly describes the second and third prongs of Plaintiff ' s prima facie case . As Defendant concedes , Plaintiff was qualified for her job . Her termination constitutes an adverse employment action . 4 '!'he four-day interval between Plaintiff ' s disclosure of her disability and her termination "is sufficiently close temporal proximity to warrant a prima facie inference of a causa l 4 Plaintitt claims that she was subjected to other adverse employment actions because of her disability , including moving her desk after her leave of absence , taking her off the Colleges and Universities initiative , and reassigning her to train coworkers . As discussed supra , these events do not rise to the level of adverse employment actions under federal employment anti-discrimination law , either standing alone or considered cumulatively . Compare Morales-Vallellanes v . Potter , 60!::> .I:' . 3d 2·1 , 3!::> - 40 (1st Cir . 2010} , cert . denied , 131 S . Ct . 9 ·1s (2011} , with Valentin-Almeyda v . Municipality of Aguadilla , 447 F . 3d 85 , 97 (1st Cir . 2006) . 24 conn ection between the two . " Alvarado v . Don a h oe , 464 687 F . 3d 453 , (1 st Ci r . 2012) . 2 . Agency ' s Proterred Le gitimate , Non -Di scr iminatory ~eason t or Di s mi ssa l As s tated above , Defen dant asserts that they discontinued Pl aintitt ' s emp l oyme nt because other poor per t orman ce , a l awtu l, n on - d i scriminat ory reason for termi n at i o n . 3 . Pretext f o r Di scr i min at i o n and Di scrimi nat ory Animus The Court turns to the question o f discriminatory animus , askin g whether a tacttinder could "reasonably inter t h at unlawtul d i sc rimin at i o n was a determi n at i ve f actor in the adverse empl oyment action ." Felic i ano de l a Cru z v . El Congui s tador ~eso rt & Count ry Cl ub , 218 ~· . 3ct 1 , 6 (1st Ci r . 2000) . Pl ai ntitt presents evidence that M onzon would ask coworkers to tollow Plaintiff and " shake his head disapprovingly" wh e n s h e returned . Moreover , the tempora l prox i mity between Pl a int i ff ' s February meeting with Garc i a and h er t ermina tion i s probative o t discriminatory an imu s , espec i a l l y in combi n at i o n with other changes in her employment conditio n s . 25 While De f endant cont ends that the recommendation to terminate Pl a intiff was made before she told them about her disabi l ity , the Agency provides no documentation of t hi s dec i s i on , such as memoranda , emai l s or texts between the indiv i duals invo l ved i n that decision . In this age of conne c tivit y , thi s lack o f contemporaneo us documentat i o n is unusual for such a serious matter . Moreover , the accounts of the supervisors dit ter . A reasonable jury could conclude that Plaintiff' s request f or accommodation became the deciding f actor in her termination decision . While there is undisputed evidence that Plaintiff had performance deficiencies , particularly with respect to meeting her quota , a reasonable jury could conclude that Defendant , upon l earning of Plaintiff ' s disability and/or request for accommodation s , artificia lly inflated the severity o f these deficiencies as pretext for firing her based on her d i sabi li ty . 'l'heretore , Uetendant ' s Motion tor Summary Judgment is DENIED with respect to Pl a intiff ' s d i sability discrimination c l aim . D. Retaliation The Rehabilitation Act makes the ADA' s anti - retaliation provision available to Federal employees , making it illegal to 26 "discriminate again st a ny individual because such individual has . . . exerc i sed or enjoyed . . . any right granted or protected by this chapter ." 42 U. S . C . § 12203(a) , (b) ; 29 U. S . C . § '/94(d) . As with discrimination cla ims , reta liation cla ims follow t h e McDonnell Dougl as burden-shifting framework . Alvarado v . Donahoe , 687 F . 3d 453 , 458 (1st Cir . 2012) . To make out a prima tac ie reta liation cla im, a p l aintitt must show that "( 1 ) [ she] engaged in protected conduct , (2) [ she] was subjected t o a n adverse act i o n by the defendant , and (3) there was a causal conne ction between the protected conduct and the adverse action . " Palmqui st v . Shinseki , 689 b' . 3d 66 , ·10 (1st Cir . 2012) . Plaintiff has met her burden . A reasonable request f or disability accommodation constitutes a protected activity for the purposes of the Rehabilitation Act . See Kelley v . Corr . Med . Serv ., l n c ., ·10·1 b' . 3d 108 , ll!J ( 1st Cir . 2 013 ) ; Wright v . CompUSA , Inc ., 352 F . 3d 472 , 478 (1st Cir . 2003) . Tempora l proximity between a protected act i v ity and an adverse employment act i on , especially when so c l ose , can satisfy a plaintiff ' s prima facie showing of causat i o n . See Colon-Font anez , 660 F . 3d at 37 ; Calero-Cerezo , 355 F . 3d at 2!J - 26 (tinding plaintitt establ ished prima tacie e l ement of causation where suspens i o n came roughly one month after 27 engagement in protected activity) . Here, causat i on is evident trom the four - day proximity between Plaintiff ' s request for accommodations and her termination . Because Defendant has proffered a legitimate , nondiscriminatory reason for Plaintiff ' s termination , the Court asks whether a reasonable jury could find that Defendant's justitication is a pretext tor retaliation . A plaintitt may o nly obtain relief under tho anti - retaliation provision of tho Rehabilitation Act when retaliatory con duct is the but-for cause of an adverse employment action . Palmquist , 689 F . 3d at 77 . It is the plaintitt ' s burden to " show that the prottered reason is pretextual and that the job action was the result of the defendant ' s retaliatory animus . " Kelley , 707 F . 3d at 115 . A reasonable jury cou ld determine that but for her request f or accommodations , Pla intiff would n ot have been terminated , despite her tra ck record of mediocre pertormance . Uetendant 's Motion tor Summary Judgment is therefore DENIED with respect to Plaintiff ' s retaliation claim . 28 E. Equal. Pay Act The Eq u a l Pay Act prohi b i ts wage d i scr i minat i o n " betwee n emp l oyees o n t h e bas i s o f sex f or equ a l work o n j obs t h e per f orman ce o f whi c h requi res equ a l skill , e ff ort , a n d respo n s i b ili ty , a n d whi c h are per t ormed under s i mil ar work ing con d i t i o n s ." 29 U. S . C . § 206 (d ) ( 1 ). Pl a int iff argues t h at De f e n da n t v i o l ated t h e Eq u a l Pay Act by paying h er l ess t h a n Car l os Linera , a ma l e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st . ~o prove a v i o l at i o n o t t h e ~q u a l Pay Act , a p l a int itt mu st fi rst make a pr ima f ac i e s h owing " t h at t h e e mp l oyer pa i d d iffere n t wages to a n emp l oyee o f t h e oppos i te sex f or s u bstan t i a ll y equ a l work ." Ing ram v . Br in k ' s , In c ., 414 F. 3d 222 , 232 (1st Ci r . 200~ ) (c i t ing Corning Gl ass Works v . Bre nn a n, 21 ·1 U. S . 188 , 195 ( 1974 )). The part i es agree t h at Pl a int iff h as met h er b u rde n. Bot h Pl a int iff a n d Linera app li ed f or a n d were o ff ered Part n ers hi p Speci a li st pos i t i o n s . De f e n da n t pa i d Pl a int iff at t h e GS - 9 pay grade , b u t pa i d Linera at t h e GS - 11 pay grade f or s u bstan t i a ll y s imil ar , if n ot i de n t i ca l, work . See Mull e ni x v . Fors y t h De n ta l 120 , 139 (D. Mass . 1996 ) Infi r mar y f or Chil dre n, 965 F. Su pp . (p l a int iff may make o u t a pr i ma f ac i e s h owing by comparing h erse lt to o n e ma l e comparator ). The b u rde n s hifts to De f e n da n t to establi s h t h at t h e wage d i screpan cy res ul ted f rom ( 1 ) a se ni or i ty system ; system ; (2 ) a mer i t (3 ) a system whi c h meas u res earnings by q u a n t i ty or 29 q u a li ty o f produ ct i o n ; or ( 4 ) a d iffere n t i a l based o n a n y ot h er f actor ot h er t h a n sex . Corning Gl ass W orks , 417 U. S . at 196 (c i t ing 29 U. S . C . § 206 (d ) (1 )) . De f e n da n t argu es t h at t h e f o u rt h a ffi r mat i ve de f e n se app li es to t hi s case . " Acceptab l e f actors ' ot h er t h a n sex ' in c lude experi e n ce , pr i or sa l ary , edu cat i o n , skill s whi c h t h e e mp l oyer dee ms u se ful to t h e pos i t i o n , a n d a prove n ab ili ty to ge n erate hi g h er reve nues f or t h e e mp l oyer ' s b u s iness ." Scott v . Sul zer Carbomedi cs , In c ., 141 F . Su pp . 2d 154 , 176 (D. Mass . 2001 ) . Factors u sed to establi s h proper " ot h er t h a n sex " just ifi cat i o n s are typ i ca ll y f act u a l a n d ver ifi ab l e , as opposed to s u b j ect i ve . See i d . at l '/6 77 (" s u per i or sa l es , market con d i t i o n s , or pr i or work exper i e n ce " just if y compe n sat ing s imil ar l y s i t u ated ma l e e mp l oyees more t h a n f e ma l e p l a int iff) ; Gi rdi s v . E . E . O. C ., 688 F . Su pp . 40 , 46 (D. Mass . 198 '/ ) , a tt ' d 8!Jl .L 2d !J40 (1st Ci r . 1988 ) (ver iti ab l e " e mp l oyme n t programs a n d pract i ces " establi s h wage d iffere n t i a l ot h er t h a n sex ) . The und i spu ted f acts establi s h t h at bot h Pl a int iff a n d Linera served as Part n ers hi p Speci a li sts . App li can ts t or t h e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st pos i t i o n coul d app l y to o n e or more pay grades , based o n hi s or h er edu cat i o n a n d exper i e n ce . De f e n da n t posted t h e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st app li cat i o n wi t h t h e in stru ct i o n s t h at app li can ts "mu st s u b mi t a comp l ete app li cat i o n t or each grade l eve l t h ey wi s h to app l y t or , " expli c i t l y warning 30 t h at "[i]f o nl y o n e app li cat i o n i s rece i ved , yo u will con s i dered o nly f or t h e l owest grade ." (emph as i s in or i g in a l) . Pl a in t iff app li ed f or t h e Part n ers hi p Spec i a li st pos i t i o n at t h e GS - 9 pay grade o nl y . Sh e does n ot c l a i m t h at s he s u bmi tted add i t i o n a l app li cat i o n s f or ot h er grade l eve l s . Accord ing l y , De f e n da n t hi red Pl a int iff at t h e GS - 9 pay grade . Linera app li ed to t h e same pos i t i o n at t h e GS - 11 l eve l, a n d De f e n da n t hi red him at t h at pay grade . Pl a int iff ' s q u a lifi cat i o n s may h ave just ifi ed a GS - 11 sa l ary , b u t De f e n da n t ' s j ob post ing makes c l ear t h at if a n ind i v i d u a l s u b mi ts o nl y o n e comp l eted app li cat i on, t h at ind i v i d u a l will be con s i dered o nl y f or t h at o n e pay grade l eve l. Pl a int iff does n ot assert t h at s h e was de ni ed a n opport uni ty to app l y to t h e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st pos i t i o n at a hi g h er pay grade t h a n t h e GS - 9 l eve l, or t h at s h e was advi sed to app l y o nl y to t h at j ob . Fu rt h er , De f e n da n t prese n ts evi de n ce s h owing t h at at l east o n e f e ma l e Part n ers hi p Speci a li st was hi red at t h e GS - 11 pay grade . De f e n da n t ' s e mp l oyme n t pract i ce o f hi r ing a n d compen sat ing ind i v i d u a l s based o n t h e j ob grade h e or s h e app li es f or con st i t u tes a l eg i t imate f actor indepe n de n t o f sex . Cf. Gi rdi s , 688 F. Su pp . at 46 -4 8 (ho l d ing t h at " t ime in grade " compe n sat i o n restr i ct i o n aga in st f e ma l e p l a int iff s con st i t u tes f actor ot h er t h a n sex ; "it t h e p l a int itt s h ad bee n ma l es , t h ey st ill wo ul d h ave bee n restr i cted to t h e [l ower pay grade ]"). According l y , 31 De f e n da n t ' s M i o n f or Summary J u dgme n t i s ALLOWED wi t h respect ot to Pl a in t iff ' s Eq u a l Pay Act c l a i m. IV. ORDER Af ter a rev i ew o f t h e record a n d h ear ing , t h e Cou rt ALLOWS IN PART and DENIES IN PART De f e n da n t ' s M i o n f or Summary ot J u dgme n t (Docket No . 23 ) as f o ll ows : - Coun t I: Summary judgme n t DENIED. - Coun t II : Summary judgme n t ALLOWED. - Coun t III : Summary judgme n t ALLOWED. - Coun t l V: Summary judgme n t DENIED. / s / PATTI B . SARI S Patt i B . Sari s Chi e f Uni ted States Di stri ct J u dge 32

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