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Gomez v. Haystax Technology, Inc.

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

November 14, 2017

RAMONA RAE GOMEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
HAYSTAX TECHNOLOGY, INC. et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          T. S. Ellis, III, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, Ramona Rae Gomez, a 57-year old disabled female, filed this employment discrimination suit after defendants Haytax Technology, Inc. and NetCentrics, Inc. terminated her in February 2016. Plaintiff contends that defendants terminated her because of her sex, age, disability, and in retaliation for having taken protected medical leave. Plaintiff allegations include: (i) Disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, (ii) Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) retaliation, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2), (iii) sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and (iv) age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C.A. § 623.

         Following full discovery, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. As the matter has now been fully briefed and argued, it is ripe for disposition.

         I.

         The entry of summary judgment is appropriate only where there are no genuine disputes of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). That is the situation here. Pursuant to Local Rule 56(B) and the Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order, a motion for summary judgment must contain a separately captioned section listing in numbered-paragraph form all material facts as to which the movant contends no genuine dispute exists. See Gomez v. Haystax Technology, Inc. et al, No. 1-16-cv-1433 (E.D. Va. Mar. 8, 2017) (Doc. 16). The Local Rule and Scheduling Order further provide that the non-movant must include “a separately captioned section within the brief addressing, in numbered-paragraph form corresponding to the movant's section, each of the movant's enumerated facts and indicating whether the non-movant admits or disputes the fact with appropriate citations to the record.” Id. Finally, the Scheduling Order states that the “Court may assume that any fact identified by the movant as undisputed in the movant's brief that is not specifically controverted in the non-movant's brief in the manner set forth above is admitted for the purpose of deciding the motion for summary judgment.” Id.

         Both parties largely complied with Local Rule 56(B) and the Scheduling Order. Although defendants originally failed to provide a pleading enumerating in separately numbered-paragraph form all of the material undisputed facts, that error was promptly corrected. In response, plaintiff disputed a number of defendants' proposed undisputed facts, but did not address or dispute the remaining facts.

         As a result, the statement of undisputed material facts listed here is based on defendants' statement of undisputed facts, the majority of which the plaintiff does not specifically dispute. As for plaintiff's briefs that pre-date the defendants' filing of their statement of undisputed material fact, those briefs have been scoured for facts that arguably could be viewed as conflicting with the facts recited here; where such facts were found, they were either immaterial or not supported, as required, by admissible record evidence.

         A.

         Plaintiff, Ramona Rae Gomez, is a 57-year old disabled woman who was employed by defendants from May 14, 2013 through March 1, 2016 as a program manager. Haystax Technology, Inc., one of the defendants, is a corporation headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Its subsidiary, NetCentrics Corporation, employed plaintiff to assist with its government contract work, mostly related to IT projects.

         In May 2013, plaintiff was hired to work as a program manager for a contract with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). During the CFPB contract, plaintiff went on medical leave for hip surgery from September 13 through November 24, 2014. Although plaintiff generally performed her work satisfactorily, NetCentrics president, Cynthia Barreda, hoped that plaintiff would be able to grow the CFPB work.

         When the CFPB contract came up for a rebid, and while plaintiff was out on medical leave, NetCentrics failed to win the rebid on the contract. On October 21, 2014, while plaintiff was still on medical leave, she was reassigned to a new contract, known as the Network Stabilization Contract. Specifically, plaintiff was assigned to work as a senior program manager on Task D. When plaintiff returned from medical leave on November 24, 2014, she began working as a senior program manager, and continued to work on Task D until September 2015.

         On April 21, 2015, during her assignment to Task D, plaintiff informed NetCentrics that she was scheduled to have hip surgery on December 11, 2015, and would be out of work for approximately six weeks. NetCentrics approved plaintiff's request for leave at that time.

         In June 29, 2015, while plaintiff was still working as a senior program manager on Task D, NetCentrics listed plaintiff as “key personnel” on a bid for a Coast Guard contract known as the TESS contract. During that June, plaintiff assisted with the proposal for TESS.

         In July 2015, NetCentrics was required to engage in a re-compete process for Task D of the Network Stabilization Contract, the contract to which plaintiff was assigned. Because NetCentrics could not re-compete as a prime contractor, it partnered with a company called Trowbridge & Trowbridge to work as a subcontractor on Task D, now renamed TED. Although Trowbridge won the contract and NetCentrics was slated to work as a subcontractor on TED, NetCentrics was given only 25 of the 45 positions it previously held on Task D. As a result, a number of NetCentrics employees would have to be removed from TED or terminated.

         In September 2015, NetCentrics held a meeting with plaintiff and other employees working on Task D and gave them termination letters stating that as a result of the loss of the Task D contract, their last day would be September 30, 2015 and that they should look for alternative positions. NetCentrics ultimately terminated a number of Task D employees, including four men, Claude Blair, Kevin Fu, Chandra Muppala, and David Whitney, and one woman, Erin Lewis.

         On the same day NetCentrics held a termination meeting with Task D employees, plaintiff spoke to a supervisor about why she had received the termination letter. Plaintiff was told that she would not be terminated, but would instead continue working as “overhead” at NetCentrics headquarters until the Coast Guard contract, TESS, was won. Based on plaintiff's conversation with her supervisor, her termination letter was rescinded.

         On October 1, 2015, NetCentrics won TESS and plaintiff began working on TESS. Shortly after work on TESS began, however, a Stop Work notice was issued due to a protest of the award of the TESS contract to NetCentrics. Plaintiff could not perform any more billable work on TESS, but she continued to do some work related to TESS, including creating job descriptions for various roles associated with the project. Plaintiff continued to prepare for TESS until her scheduled surgery on December 11, 2015.

         Plaintiff did not return to work until January 25, 2016. When plaintiff returned, she was using crutches and could not perform manual labor. On the day plaintiff returned, Melissa Bristol emailed plaintiff, welcoming her back and requesting that she send a plan for her work for the week on TESS. Plaintiff continued to work on overhead in anticipation of the protest of TESS being lifted.

         On February 16, 2016, NetCentrics was informed that it had lost TESS as a result of the protest process. Plaintiff learned about it the same day, and on February 19, 2016, Barreda met with plaintiff and instructed her to contact Caron Hummer, an internal recruiter, to determine if alternative positons within NetCentrics were available. Barreda also told plaintiff that ...


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