United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
STEPHANIE Y. BROWN, APPELLANT
ALLEN L. SESSOMS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., APPELLEES
Argued September 23, 2014.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:12-cv-00799).
Donald M. Temple argued the cause and was on brief for the appellant.
Yoora Pak argued the cause and was on brief for the appellees.
Before: HENDERSON and SRINIVASAN,
Circuit Judges, and WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judge.
Karen LeCraft Henderson, Circuit Judge:
Stephanie Brown was a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (DCSL). In 2009, she applied for tenure and a promotion. Her application for tenure was eventually rejected by then--Interim Provost Graeme Baxter (Baxter) and President Allen Sessoms (Sessoms), both of whom worked for the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Dissatisfied, Brown sued the Board of Trustees of UDC (Board) and Sessoms (collectively, UDC defendants). She alleged one federal claim and six local-law claims. The UDC defendants removed the action to federal court and moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion to dismiss in its entirety and Brown appealed. We reverse and remand in part and affirm in part.
Brown, a black female, worked for DCSL in various capacities for more than two decades. At one time, DCSL and UDC were separate institutions governed by different boards. In 1995, DCSL entered into a Merger Agreement with UDC to become UDC's law school and the UDC Board became statutorily bound by the terms of the Merger Agreement. See D.C. Code § 38-1202.11(c). Several provisions of the Merger Agreement regarding faculty appointments and service have been codified in D.C. municipal regulations. See generally D.C. Mun. Regs., tit. VIII, § § 1400-1424. The DCSL Faculty Handbook also incorporates the merger and makes reference to the Merger Agreement.
Brown submitted her application for tenure and a promotion to full professor on January 5, 2009. At that time, Brown was an associate professor of law. The initial reviewing entity was DCSL's Faculty Evaluation and Retention Committee (Committee). It voted to recommend Brown for tenure and transmitted her application to DCSL Dean Katherine Broderick (Broderick). Broderick initially recommended that the Committee withdraw its approval of Brown's tenure application. Broderick's concerns focused on both the sparseness and the quality of Brown's legal scholarship, as Brown had only " one . . . published law review article" when she applied for tenure and a promotion. Am. Compl. ¶ 20. Once Broderick learned that a law journal agreed to publish another one of Brown's articles, however, she endorsed the Committee's recommendation and forwarded her approval of Brown's application to Baxter.
Notwithstanding Broderick's endorsement, in June 2011, Baxter rejected Brown's tenure application. Baxter then forwarded her rejection decision to Sessoms, who agreed that Brown should not be awarded tenure. Accordingly, Sessoms did not submit Brown's tenure application to the Board.
Around the same time that Brown applied for tenure, the UDC administration considered the tenure application of William McLain (McLain), a white male. Brown alleges that McLain had " no legal publications" but that Broderick did not insist that he satisfy the three-publication requirement, as Broderick had with Brown's application. Am. Compl. ¶ 44. Despite McLain's lack of publications, the Board awarded him tenure and a promotion to full professor in 2010. Brown alleges that McLain won tenure because he was " credited for his various and sundry legal contributions" even though, according to Brown, she was " equally, if not more qualified than McLain" based on their respective tenure applications. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 49, 51.
With her application denied, Brown filed suit in D.C. Superior Court against the UDC defendants. They removed the action to federal court and Brown filed an amended complaint on May 22, 2012. Brown raised seven claims in her amended complaint: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) wrongful termination; (4) race and gender discrimination in violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA), D.C. Code § § 2-1401, et seq.; (5) race discrimination
in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (6) negligent supervision; and (7) negligent infliction of emotional distress. The UDC defendants moved to dismiss all seven counts for ...