United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM B. HILDEBRAND, LLC On behalf of plaintiff.
B. TAYLOR ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY CAMDEN FEDERAL BUILDING
& U.S. COURTHOUSE On behalf of defendant.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns plaintiff's allegations of discrimination
and retaliation in her employment as an Immigration
Enforcement Agent for the United States Department of
Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Pending before the Court is defendant's motion for
summary judgment. For the reasons expressed below,
defendant's motion will be granted.
Sherry Moore, is an African-American female who, since 1997,
has been employed as an Immigration Enforcement Agent by the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), at the Marlton, New Jersey
Sub-Office for Detention and Removal Operations. Plaintiff
has asserted claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., against defendant, the Secretary of DHS,
conduct that she alleges constitutes unlawful race
discrimination and retaliation.
amended complaint identifies two incidents of alleged
discrimination that occurred between March and May 2006.
Plaintiff claims that sometime between March and May 2006,
her second-line supervisor, Christopher Croteau, who is
Caucasian, ordered plaintiff and another African-American
female employee to transport a female detainee to her home in
Camden, New Jersey in order for the detainee to breastfeed
one of her four children. Plaintiff claims that it was
standard practice that ICE would inform the local police that
ICE was going to be operating in the area to protect the ICE
agents' safety. Plaintiff contends that her supervisors
did not follow this procedure when plaintiff was ordered to
transport the detainee in an easily identifiable white van
with government tags to an area that was known for drug and
gang activity. Plaintiff claims that Caucasian employees were
never given similar, unsafe assignments.
second alleged discriminatory incident occurred in May 2006,
when Croteau ordered plaintiff's direct supervisor, Adam
Garcia, to assign her to three dangerous surveillance
missions in Camden. Plaintiff contends that she was stationed
in a white government van, while agents from Fugitive
Operations worked undercover in plain clothes and unmarked
vehicles. Plaintiff complained to her supervisors that the
assignment was unnecessarily dangerous, but it was only until
another employee complained about the dangerousness of the
assignments that they were cancelled.
claims that she was placed on these assignments because she
is African-American, and in retaliation of a race
discrimination charge she filed with the EEOC in 2004 against
Croteau and Garcia. Plaintiff also claims that other several
incidents are evidence of discrimination. These incidents,
which occurred in 2004 - 2005, include: (1) not being given
the chance to act as a supervisor while junior employees were
offered that opportunity; (2) being assigned to return to a
country in which she nearly died in a plane crash even though
it was not her turn to escort; (3) receiving unjustified
write-ups; (4) being denied overtime; (5) being forced to
cover up for and perform the job duties of other employees;
(6) being ordered out of buildings; (7) being yelled at in
front of other employees; (8) being denied training; and (9)
being denied favored assignments such as consulate runs.
has moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiff's
claims. Defendant argues the two incidents involving
plaintiff's travel to Camden are time-barred because she
did not comply with the requirement that she contact an EEO
counselor within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory
actions. Defendant further argues that all of the other
allegations of discrimination are not independently
actionable because plaintiff never raised them in the
administrative process, they were dismissed in the
administrative process, or plaintiff did not exhaust the
administrative remedies to cause them to be actionable.
Defendant also argues that even if her claims are deemed to
be procedurally proper, plaintiff cannot support her
contention that she was discriminated due to her race or
retaliated because of her race.
has opposed defendant's motion, arguing that her claims
regarding the two assignments to Camden were properly
exhausted at the administrative process, but at a minimum,
disputed facts preclude the finding that those claims are
time-barred. Plaintiff also argues that other incidents of
discrimination may be considered as “background”
facts to demonstrate defendant's discriminatory motives.
Finally, plaintiff argues that she has presented sufficient
disputed material facts for a jury to determine whether race
was a motivating factor in the Camden assignments, and also
in retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint in 2004.
brings claims for discrimination and retaliation in violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. This Court
exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that the
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations, admissions, or interrogatory
answers, demonstrate 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. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
An issue is “genuine” if it is supported by
evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is
“material” if, under the governing substantive
law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the
suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary
judgment, a district court may not make credibility
determinations or engage in any weighing of the ...