Where there was no evidence that any of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s alleged conduct was based on an employee’s race or age, the agency prevailed on the hostile work environment claim. Where the employee was not satisfying the agency’s expectations and could not show the reason for his termination was pretext, the agency prevailed on the age and race bias termination claims.
Plaintiff, a former employee of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, filed this suit by counsel pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Plaintiff has alleged that he was subjected to a hostile work environment and terminated because of his race and age.
At issue in this matter is defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Hostile work environment claims
To avoid summary judgment on his Title VII and ADEA hostile work environment claims, plaintiff must show that a reasonable jury could find that the conduct he alleges was (I) unwelcome; (2) based on his race and/or age; (3) sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of his employment and to create an abusive work environment and (4) imputable to his employer.
Plaintiff has conceded that there is no evidence that anyone at the USPTO made a negative comment about plaintiff’s race or age. Accordingly, to show that the alleged conduct was based on plaintiff’s race or age, plaintiff must show specific evidence of differential treatment of similarly situated employees who are younger or of a different race than plaintiff. Plaintiff has not presented specific evidence to show that any of the alleged conduct was based on plaintiff’s race or age.
Even assuming that plaintiff could show that the meager alleged conduct was based on his race or age, plaintiff cannot avoid summary judgment on his hostile work environment claim for another reason, namely that the alleged conduct fails to satisfy the severe or pervasive conduct requirement. Although plaintiff argues that his supervisor’s conduct meets the severe or pervasive standard because it interfered with plaintiff’s work performance, his argument does not alter the result that plaintiff has failed to present specific evidence that would lead a reasonable person to perceive plaintiff’s work environment as abusive.
Discriminatory termination claims
Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated because of his race and age in violation of Title VII and the ADEA. Where, as here, the undisputed record evidence indicates that plaintiff was not meeting his employer’s expectations at the time of his termination, however, a plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case of discrimination.
Moreover, even assuming that plaintiff had established a prima facie case of discrimination, plaintiff failed to show that defendant’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for his termination, his failure to meet the production goals set for him as a condition of continued employment, was mere pretext.
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment granted.
Nyimpha v. Ross, Case No. 19-cv-258, Feb. 19, 2020. EDVA at Alexandria (Ellis). VLW 020-3-104. 20 pp.