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Belyakov v. Computing

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 6, 2015

IGOR BELYAKOV, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDICAL SCIENCE & COMPUTING, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Igor Belyakov, Plaintiff, Pro se, Gaithersburg, MD.

For Medical Science & Computing, Defendant: Charles H Fleischer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Oppenheimer Fleischer & Quiggle, P.C., Bethesda, MD.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

THEODORE D. CHUANG, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Dr. Igor Belyakov, a United States citizen of Russian national origin, applied for a scientific research position with the National Institutes of Health (" NIH" ) through a staffing firm. Defendant Medical Science & Computing (" MSC" ). When he did not get the job, Belyakov filed this action against MSC alleging discrimination on the basis of age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 633a et seq. (2012), discrimination on the basis of national origin under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq. (2012), and retaliation in violation of Title VII. Presently pending before the Court are Belyakov's Motion to Reconsider, ECF No. 27, MSC's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 29, and Belyakov's Dispositive Pretrial Motion, ECF No. 36, which the Court construes as a motion for summary judgment.

The motions are fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary to resolve the issues. See Local Rule 106.5 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Reconsider is DENIED, MSC's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and Belyakov's Dispositive Pretrial Motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

I. Dr. Belyakov

Belyakov was born in Estonia in July 1960 and immigrated to the United States in 1993. Belyakov Dep. 13:13-22, Apr. 3, 2014, ECF No. 29-1. At the time that Belyakov was born, Estonia was part of the Soviet Union. Id. at 13:17-18. Belyakov received a medical degree in 1983, a Doctor of Philosophy (" Ph.D." ) degree in 1986, and a Doctor of Science degree in 1993, all from Russian academic institutions, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Immunobiology Vaccine Center at the University of Alabama in 1995. See Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. Dismiss & Summ. J. (" Pl.'s Resp." ) Ex. 3, ECF No. 31-4. From 1996 to 2006, Belyakov worked at NIH -- first as a postdoctoral fellow in molecular immunogenetics and vaccine research at NIH's National Cancer Institute from 1996 to 2001, then as a senior staff scientist in the Vaccine Branch of the Center for Cancer Research from 2001 to 2006. Id. NIH is part of the

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United States Department of Health and Human Services (" HHS" ) and is a medical research agency headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.

Between 2004 and 2010, Belyakov filed three Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) charges against HHS that he afterward brought to federal district court. See Belyakov v. Leavitt, No. DKC-04-4008, Mem. Op. at 5 (D. Md. Sept. 6. 2007); Belyakov v. Leavitt, No. DKC-06-2973, Mem. Op. at 2 (D. Md. Sept. 6, 2007); Belyakov v. Johnson, No. DKC-08-0757, Mem. Op. at 2 (D. Md. Feb. 5, 2009). All three of those EEOC charges were resolved prior to the events concerning this case. In 2010, Belyakov filed a fourth EEOC charge against HHS for discrimination and retaliation after he was not considered for a tenure track position at NIH. See Belyakov Apr. 3 Dep. 34:24-35:23. At the time the parties in this case filed their motions for summary judgment, that charge was still pending before the EEOC. See id. at 38:21-24. When he applied for the position at issue in this case, Belyakov was a research assistant professor at the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan. See Pl.'s Resp. Ex. 3 at 1.

II. The Job Posting by MSC

MSC is a Maryland firm that provides scientific research and information technology staff to federal government agencies. Mahycra Decl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 29-1. Although many of its personnel work on-site at the agencies, they are hired and employed by MSC. See id. ¶ 9. In most cases, when hiring employees for its customers, MSC uses a recruiting procedure that involves posting an open position, collecting applications, interviewing selected applicants, and then making an offer of employment to a final candidate. See Mahyera Decl. Ex. E, ECF No. 29-1, at 25-26. Once the final candidate accepts the offer, MSC sends " a 'regret' letter" to the applicants who were not selected for the position. Id. at 27. MSC can waive the full recruiting process, however, " when the customer, after reviewing the resume of a single candidate, even before other candidates have been submitted, expects [MSC] to make an offer of employment." Id. at 25.

One of MSC's customers is NIH. Mahyera Decl. ¶ 8. In October 2012, Anna Mahyera. the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of MSC, learned about an open research scientist position at NIH and asked whether MSC needed to gather a pool of potential candidates. Mahycra Decl. Ex. F, ECF No. 29-1. On November 5, 2012, Valerie Lawrence, an employee at NIH, informed Mahyera that NIH intended to fill the position with Dr. Guillaume Stewart-Jones, then a 34-year-old of British national origin who worked in Oxford, England. Mahyera Decl. Ex. G, ECF No. 29-1. Concerned that Stewart-Jones would be unwilling to relocate to the United States or unable to get a work visa, MSC decided to post the open research scientist position. Mahyera Decl. ¶ 17. MSC wanted to have a pool of potential candidates in case Stewart-Jones did not accept the position. Id.

On November 29, 2012, MSC posted online the research scientist position job announcement, which stated that:

Medical Science & Computing, Inc. (MSC) is currently searching for a scientist to support the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This opportunity is a full time position with MSC and is located in Rockville, Maryland.

Mahyera Decl. ¶ 18, Ex. H, ECF No. 29-1. The job posting listed the position's duties and responsibilities, noted that the position required a Ph.D. or equivalent degree, and

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indicated that " [e]xperience working with mucosal immunity or adenovirus is preferred." Id. Thirty-one potential candidates, including Belyakov and Stewart-Jones, responded to the job posting. Mahyera Dec. ¶ 19.

Belyakov responded to the job posting on December 12, 2012, by creating a profile and uploading his curriculum vitae (" CV" ) to MSC's website. Mahyera Decl. ¶ ¶ 19-20. Belyakov's CV listed his education and the years his degrees were conferred, as well as his extensive professional history, including past academic and professional positions, awards and publications, and speaking engagements. See Pl.'s Resp. Ex. 3. On December 20, 2012, Stewart-Jones responded to the job posting in the same fashion. Mahyera Decl. ¶ 21. His CV specifically listed his birthdate (in January 1978) and national origin (British). See Mahyera Decl. Ex. G. It also listed his education and extensive professional history, which included a Ph.D. in structural biology, two postdoctoral fellowships in human immunology, and numerous publications. Id.

On December 26, 2012, Mahyera offered the research scientist position to Stewart-Jones. Mahyera Decl. Ex. K, ECF No. 29-1, at 40. In a declaration, Mahyera states that she selected Stewart-Jones because " NIH had previously informed MSC that NIH wanted Stewart-Jones to fill the position." Mahyera Decl. ¶ 29. She did not evaluate or screen any of the 31 potential candidates, nor did she request that any of them submit formal applications or interview for the position. Id ¶ 23. She did not review Belyakov's CV and did not know Belyakov's age or national origin, or that Belyakov had previously filed EEOC charges. Id. ¶ 24, 25. She never discussed Belyakov with anyone at NIH and never forwarded to NIH any of the materials received from Belyakov or any of the 31 potential candidates for the position, nor did any other MSC employee. Id. ¶ ¶ 26-27.

Stewart-Jones accepted the position on December 30, 2012. See Mahyera Decl. Ex. K at 41-42. Shortly thereafter, an MSC employee sent the other 30 potential candidates identical emails notifying them that they had not been selected. Mahyera Decl. ¶ 29. Belyakov received his email on January 7, 2013, from MSC recruiter Elisa Johnston. See Mahyera Decl. Ex. L. ECF No. 29-1. It read:

Dear Igor,
Thank you for your interest in the Scientist position with MSC.
While your credentials and skills are impressive, another candidate's qualifications were more suited for this position.

Id. When Belyakov responded with an email asserting that he was " highly qualified for the position," ...


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