Cathy Walton v. Thomas Harker, No. 21-1041 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff appealed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment to the Acting Secretary of the Navy (the “Navy”) on her employment retaliation claims under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. Sec 621, (“ADEA”). The district court awarded judgment after concluding that Plaintiff failed to exhaust certain claims because they were not raised in her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge. It also rejected her remaining retaliation claims.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment to the Acting Secretary of the Navy (“the Navy”). The court first reasoned that Plaintiff’s claims are without merit because she is procedurally barred from pursuing her claims of exclusion from the CPI Team and the Navy’s alleged failure to promote her because she did not raise them at the administrative level.
Further, even if Plaintiff had administratively exhausted her CPI Team and failure-to-promote claims, the court held it would reach the same result because she failed to plead them in her Amended Complaint. Third, the district court also correctly determined that Plaintiff’s remaining retaliation claim was unsustainable because there is no direct evidence of retaliation as part of her lateral realignment. Finally, Plaintiff points to only one alleged comment over six years, which did not amount to evidence of “recurring retaliatory animus.”