United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
SHARON L. KUNTZ, Plaintiff,
DAN M. TANGHERLINI, et al., Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MARSHA J. PECHMAN, District Judge.
The above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:
1. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 20),
2. Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 28),
3. Defendants' Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 31),
and all exhibits and declarations, plus relevant portions of the court record, rules as follows:
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED with prejudice.
Plaintiff was hired to a term-limited position with the Government Service Administration's ("GSA") Public Buildings Service as part of a ramp-up to use funding created by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act ("ARRA"). She was hired on January 4, 2010 and assigned to the Small Projects Team. She was the fourth member of the team; the other three members were men and were all hired before she was (Mr. Hill on August 30, 2009; Mr. Rayburn on August 30, 2009; and Mr. Weber on August 31, 2009).
Plaintiff describes herself as a professional with "extensive experience in architecture and project management, " and with "substantial experience in all areas of design and construction including, commercial, institutional, and residential (single, multi-family, and mixed-use)." (Plaintiff Decl., ¶ 4.) Defendant produced evidence that Plaintiff held no degrees in architecture (but did have an Associate Degree in drafting technology) and was not a licensed architect. (Mittet Decl., Exh. 5.)
Plaintiff was hired at the base salary for the position (GS 12, Step 1). Rayburn, who had a Bachelor's Degree in architecture and 20 years of experience, was hired at a GS 12, Step 7 (approximately $13, 000/year more than Plaintiff made); Weber, with a Bachelor's and a Master's in architecture and 10 years of experience, was hired at a GS 12, Step 8 (approximately $15, 000/year more than Plaintiff). The Code of Federal Regulations ("CFRs") permits an agency to pay an employee above the minimum rate upon a determination that the employee has "superior qualifications" for the position. (5 C.F.R. § 531.212.) Both Rayburn and Weber (who were already making more than the entry level GS 12, Step 1 salary) were determined to be overqualified for the Small Team Project positions - the agency processed a salary increase request through the bureaucratic channels and it was approved for both men. Hill, who had neither a degree nor an architect's license (but did have construction project management experience), was hired on at the same base GS 12, Step 1 salary as Plaintiff.
Extensions of the term-appointed employees were decided on a year-to-year basis based on determinations of need and available funding. (Decl. of Gillies; Decl. of Mittet, Exh. 5.). All term employees were extended into FY 2011. The ARRA funding ended around September 2011, however, forcing the unit to decide whether it could pay term employees past the expiration of FY 2011 using regular operating funds. The decision was made that there was sufficient ongoing work to extend the term employees into FY 2012, but that each term employee would be released upon the expiration of their term appointment in that year. (Decl. of Gillies, Exh. 2.) This meant that Plaintiff's term expired in February 2012 and the terms of the remaining two members of her team (Hill had since taken a permanent position with another department) expired in September and October of that year. (Decl's of Gillies, Brown and Mittet; Exh's 14, 15, and 16.) All term employees were terminated at the conclusion of their term in 2012.
Shortly after being advised that her employment would be terminated at the conclusion of her current term, Plaintiff filed an EEO complaint on October 5, 2011. (Decl. of Kuntz, ¶ 27.) In this lawsuit, Plaintiff pleads claims for gender discrimination and retaliation in ...