Federal Employee Wins Appeal On Sex And Age Discrimination Claim
Lawyers representing employees in discrimination cases are forever frustrated by federal district court judges whom routinely grant summary judgment to employers instead of allowing cases to proceed to trial for a jury determination.
This recent case of Bartlett v.Gates, in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s summary judgment ruling, is a perfect example of what we potentially face on every case no matter what kind of evidence has been produced.
What Happened In The Case
Barry Bartlett worked for the United States Department of Defense at the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). In September of 2005, he applied for a promotion to GS-12 contracting officer. At the time of his application, Bartlett was 58 years old and had 34 years of experience as a GS-11 contract administrator. In addition, Bartlett’s resume showed:
- a record of military service
- a bachelor’s degree in history
- completed graduate course work in business administration, accounting and law
Bartlett was deemed qualified at the initial screening stage and his name was forwarded to Kathleen Lehman, the selecting official for the promotion.
Another long term employee, Marvin Greenberg, also applied for the position. Greenberg was 63 years old at the time of his application. His resume showed:
- a bachelor’s and doctoral degrees
- authorship of a length book and numerous scholarly publications
- a 27 year tenure at DCMA
In October of 2005, without conducting any interviews, Lehman chose Angela Lucas for the promotion. Lucas, another internal candidate, was 39 years old at the time and did not have a college degree.
Bartlett claimed that between 2003 and 2005, employees who were 55 years or older received only one DCMA promotion, despite making up 36% of the agency’s workforce. He also claimed that female employees were promoted in a series of personnel decisions that involved the manipulation of agency procedures.
Bartlett decided to challenge the decision. In February of 2007, after exhausting his administrative remedies, he filed a lawsuit against the DCMA claiming that he was discriminated against because of his age and sex in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment which was referred to a magistrate for a report and recommendation. In October of 2008, the magistrate issued a report which found that Bartlett established a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII, but the DCMA provided a non-discriminatory reason for its promotion decision and Plaintiff failed to rebut it by showing pretext.
The federal district court judge adopted the recommendation and granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment against Bartlett. He appealed.Continue Reading...