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Calobrisi v. Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 24, 2015

CARLA CALOBRISI, Plaintiff,
v.
BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ANTHONY J. TRENGA, District Judge.

Defendant Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. ("Booz Allen" or Defendant) has moved for summary judgment in this age and sex discrimination case ("the Motion). The dispositive issue is whether Plaintiff Carla Calobrisi ("Calobrisi" or Plaintiff) has presented evidence sufficient to allow a reasonable fact finder to conclude that Defendant's restructuring of its Law Department, under which Plaintiff was demoted from Principal to Senior Associate, was a pretext for age and sex discrimination leveled against her. Having reviewed the summary judgment record, the Court concludes that the evidence is insufficient, as a matter of law, for a reasonable juror to find that Defendant's restructuring of its Law Department was a pretext for discriminating against the Plaintiff; and Plaintiff has therefore failed as a matter of law to rebut Defendant's legitimate nondiscriminatory explanation for her treatment. For these reasons and those stated more fully below, the Court finds that there are no genuine issues of material fact and Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 255] is therefore GRANTED.

I. FACTS[1]

Plaintiff was hired on April 10, 2000 as a Senior Associate and Associate General Counsel in Booz Allen's Legal Department (LD). At the time she was hired, she had practiced law for approximately fourteen years. In 2003, Plaintiff was promoted to Principal. In 2008, Booz Allen spun off its commercial and international business as part of a transaction with the Carlyle Group. That transaction included a non-competition agreement under which Booz Allen agreed not to compete in the commercial and international areas until July, 2011. In 2009, following the transaction with the Carlyle Group, Booz Allen consolidated under Plaintiff the limited legal work that remained in the commercial and international business practices with the legal work in the real estate area she had been doing since joining Booz Allen. As before this consolidation, Plaintiff did not supervise other lawyers.[2]

During the three years covered by the non-compete agreement, Deputy General Counsel William Meyers and then-General Counsel Appleby assured Plaintiff that when the non-compete period ended on July 30, 2011, her work in the commercial and international practices would expand. On one occasion, Meyers told Plaintiff that it was going to be her "time to shine" because her practice was about to significantly expand due to the expiration of the non-compete agreement.

In January, 2010, Appleby announced his retirement, effective July 2011, and Robert Osborne was selected to become General Counsel. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, by the end of 2010, the LD "leadership team, " including Appleby, Meyers, incoming General Counsel Robert Osborne, and Deputy General Counsel Douglas Manya, was contemplating a restructuring of the LD in anticipation of Booz Allen's reentry into the commercial and international markets in July 2011. On January 20, 2011, Messers Appleby, Meyers, Osborne, and Manya met and finalized that restructuring. Under the restructuring, as adopted and insofar relevant to this litigation, the real estate, commercial and international practices would no longer be consolidated under one team leader but rather would be split into three separate teams with a lawyer at the Senior Associate level leading each team, with all team leaders reporting to the Deputy General Counsels. Plaintiff, then age 55, was selected to be the team leader for global real estate work, with her status reduced effective April, 2011, from Principal to Senior Associate; and while her salary would not be reduced and she would remain eligible for a Principal-level bonus in 2011, she would thereafter be limited to the benefits provided at the Senior Associate level. Debra Storms, age 46, was selected to be team leader for commercial work and Karen Tinsky, age 36, for international work. At the time, both Storms and Tinsky were Senior Associates reporting to Deputy General Counsels Meyers and Manya and they retained their Senior Associate status. On January 26, 2011, Appleby, Osborne, and Meyers informed Plaintiff about the LD restructuring and her new position and status.[3]

On March 24, 2011, Plaintiff contacted Chief Personnel Officer Betty Thompson to discuss her concerns with her demotion, and specifically, whether she was demoted because of her gender or age. Plaintiff also raised whether she would be able to continue serving on the diverse women's mentoring circle now that she would no longer be a Principal. Plaintiff did not ask Thompson to conduct an investigation into her demotion, but had the expectation that Thompson would initiate one on her own. Not long after raising her concerns with Thompson, Meyers and HR Manager Caroline Wilkie requested that Plaintiff sign a memorandum stating "I acknowledge that I have read this memo and approve and voluntarily accept the terms and conditions of the aforementioned transfer [from your current position as a Principal to the position of Senior Associate effective April 1, 2011]."

At Plaintiff's annual assessment in May 2011, Plaintiff's peer assessor, Jennifer Gleich, together with Meyers, meet with the Plaintiff to present to her the results of her annual performance review and to discuss what Plaintiff should focus on for upcoming year. The conversation turned to Plaintiff's concern that her demotion was the result of gender and age discrimination. At that meeting, as Plaintiff remembers it, Meyers told Plaintiff that if she could not "get over it, " (meaning, the demotion) then she could leave the firm and he discussed a package to transition her out of the firm. Meyers' message to Plaintiff was consistent with emails that Meyers and Gleich exchanged before the meeting regarding the message to be delivered to Plaintiff.

In June 2011, Plaintiff announced her intention to retire and resign from the firm, effective October 31, 2011.[4] She agreed to participate in the selection of her replacement and she, in fact, interviewed candidates. On September 9, 2011, the firm hired the candidate that Plaintiff had recommended as her replacement, an African American male, with a starting salary of $75, 000 less than Plaintiffs base compensation.

On May 31, 2013, Plaintiff filed her Complaint which asserted the following causes of action: (1) Sex Discrimination in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code §§ 2-1402.11 et seq. (DC HRA); (2) Sex Discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); (3) Discrimination on the Basis of Age in violation of the DC HRA; (4) Discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1) (ADEA); (5) Retaliation in violation of the DC HRA; (6) Retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; and (7) Retaliation in violation of the ADEA.[5] Plaintiff seeks reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, litigation costs, and interest.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate only if the record shows that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986); Evans v. Techs. Apps. & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 958-59 (4th Cir.1996). The party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). The facts shall be viewed, and all reasonable inferences drawn, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see also Lettieri v. Equant Inc., 478 F.3d 640, 642 (4th Cir.2007). To defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 248. Whether a fact is considered "material" is determined by the substantive law, and "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id.

III. ANALYSIS

Discrimination Claims


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