United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OMAR A. ALSOOFI, Plaintiff,
STEVEN MNUCHIN, in his capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Treasury, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S RENEWED MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#41]
PAGE HOOD DATED UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
12, 2016, Plaintiff Omar A. Alsoofi (“Alsoofi”)
filed a Complaint against Defendant Secretary of the United
States Department of Treasury (the “Government”).
(Doc # 1) This action arises out of events that occurred
during Alsoofi's training to become a Criminal
Investigator with the Internal Revenue Service
(“IRS”). (Doc # 1, Pg. 3) Alsoofi claims that he
was discriminated against because of his national origin,
race, or color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e, et seq. (Id.) Alsoofi
requests damages for lost wages and reinstatement in the
Criminal Investigator training program. (Id.)
was represented by an attorney when this action commenced. On
April 11, 2017, Alsoofi filed a Motion to Remove Counsel.
(Doc # 11) The Government did not oppose the Motion. (Doc #
12) The Court granted Alsoofi's Motion. (Doc # 13)
Alsoofi proceeds on a pro se basis.
March 20, 2018, Alsoofi filed a Motion for Leave to File
Amended Complaint. (Doc # 30) The Court granted this Motion
on August 16, 2018. (Doc # 35) Alsoofi filed his Amended
Complaint on August 21, 2018. (Doc # 36) In his Amended
Complaint, Alsoofi argued that he was also retaliated against
by the Government in violation of Title VII. (Doc # 36, Pg.
November 30, 2018, the Government filed a Renewed Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc # 41) Alsoofi filed his Response on
December 3, 2018. (Doc # 42) The Government filed its Reply
on December 21, 2018. (Doc # 46) This Motion is currently
before the Court. The Court held a hearing regarding this
matter on May 1, 2019.
is an Arab-American. (Doc # 36, Pg. 2) He has been a revenue
officer for the IRS since 2006. (Doc # 41, Pg. 8) On July 1,
2012, he began training to become a Criminal Investigator for
the IRS. (Doc # 1, Pg. 2) Training was held at the National
Criminal Investigator Training Academy (“NCITA”)
in Glynco, Georgia. (Id.) Alsoofi's first level
supervisor during training at NCITA was Denise Scanlon
(“Scanlon”), a Supervisory Academy Instructor
(“SAI”). (Doc # 41, Pg. 8) His second level
supervisor was Domenic McClinton (“McClinton”),
who was the Assistant Director of NCITA. (Id.)
Alsoofi was one of 24 trainees in his training cohort.
(Id.) Alsoofi asserts that he was the only trainee
of Arab descent in his cohort, which lasted from July 1, 2012
until November 29, 2012. (Doc # 1, Pg. 2)
NCITA training program evaluated students on the basis of
examinations and practical exercises. (Doc # 41, Pg. 8)
Evaluations included multiple choice exams and other forms of
assessment. (Doc # 1, Pg. 2) The training program also had a
“three strike” policy regarding testing and
practical exercises for trainees. (Doc # 1, Pg. 2; Doc # 41,
Pg. 8) If a trainee failed three of the examinations-either
written exams or practical exercises, collectively-before
completion of the program, it was considered a failure of
three “critical job elements” and the trainee was
removed from the training program. (Doc # 41, Pg. 8)
lower than 80% on any of the examinations or practical
exercises constituted a failure. (Doc # 1, Pg. 2) If a
trainee failed an exam or practical exercise, a second
instructor reviewed the scoring to see whether the original
grader should have added more points to benefit the trainee.
(Doc # 41, Pg. 8) If a trainee failed a practical exercise,
NCITA required that the trainee re-take or
“remediate” the sections he or she failed in
order to advance in the program. (Id. at 9.)
passed the first two parts of Criminal Investigator training.
(Id.) The first practical exercise was called
“Specific Item.” (Id.) The exercise
entailed analyzing documents and applying evidence to
determine the amount of unreported income and additional tax
due and owing by a taxpayer. (Id.) During November
2012, prior to the administration of the first practical
exercise, Special Agent (“SA”) Daniel Morris
(“Morris”), an instructor for the course,
presented a slide to the cohort displaying a picture of a
camel in the middle of a parking lot. (Id. at 9-10.)
Alsoofi claims that while displaying the picture, SA Morris
asked the class how you can spot a terrorist. (Doc # 1, Pg.
Morris was responsible for grading Alsoofi's Specific
Item exercise. (Id.) On one section of the Specific
Item exercise, Alsoofi scored a perfect thirteen out of a
possible thirteen points, but was given a 97% on the section.
(Id.) This error also occurred on two other Specific
Item grade sheets completed by SA Morris for exercises taken
by members of Alsoofi's cohort. (Doc # 41-6, Pgs. 2, 4)
One of the exercises was taken by trainee LH, a black male,
and the other was taken by trainee MW, a white male.
(Id.) SA Morris scored Alsoofi's exam at 76.3%,
a failing score. (Doc # 41, Pg. 10) SAI Scanlon rescored
Alsoofi's exam, and Alsoofi earned a score of 78.95%.
(Id.) Had the error been corrected, Alsoofi's
score on the exam would have been 79.05% instead of 78.95%.
(Id. at 12.) As 80% is the required score for a
passing grade, this was Alsoofi's first failure and his
“first strike.” (Id.) The other trainees
who failed were: AG, a white man; PP, a black woman; NP, a
white man; and GS, a white man. (Doc # 41-2, Pgs. 62-71)
was downgraded by 3% on each section of the Specific Item
exercise for formatting and spelling. (Doc # 1, Pg. 3) He was
also penalized for overdocumentation, as were four of the
five other students who failed the Specific Item exercise.
(Doc # 41-2, Pgs. 58-70) Overdocumentation means that the
trainee attached irrelevant exhibits to the exercise. (Doc #
41, Pg. 11) Alsoofi's deduction for overdocumentation was
11.1% of his overall score. (Doc # 41-2, Pg. 58) His
deduction was not the highest, as trainee PP's overall
deduction was 39.2% of her overall score on the exercise.
(Id. at 68-69.)
receiving his first failing grade, Alsoofi spoke with the
cohort advisor, JoAnne McLean (“McLean”). (Doc #
41, Pg. 12) During the conversation, he told her his exercise
results were “bullshit” and that he would not
retake the exercise. (Id.) Alsoofi later spoke with
SAI Scanlon about the exercise results. (Id. at
12-13.) Alsoofi told Scanlon that he preferred a
multiple-choice format, at which time Alsoofi claims Scanlon
told him the Criminal Investigator job was not for him.
(Id. at 13.) Scanlon indicated that the practical
exercises were more closely aligned with the on the job
duties of an IRS Criminal Investigator. (Id.)
Alsoofi subsequently completed the remedial Specific Item
exercise and passed. (Id.)
took the second practical exercise later in November 2012.
The practical exercise was called Report Writing.
(Id.) SA Denise Cole (“Cole”) graded
Alsoofi's Report Writing exercise. (Id.) Alsoofi
earned a 75.4% percent score. (Id.) Greg Stuart,
another instructor for the program, reviewed Alsoofi's
exercise and gave it a score of 75.6%. (Id.) Alsoofi
claims that he was downgraded for overwriting. (Doc # 1, Pg.
3, ¶17) Five trainees failed the failed the Report
Writing exercise: (1) Alsoofi; (2) AG, a white man; (3) PP, a
black woman; (4) NP, a white man; and (5) TW, a black man.
(Doc # 41, Pgs. 13-14) Trainee PP earned the lowest score on
the Report Writing exercise, at 74.6%. (Id. at 14.)
This failure was Alsoofi's second “strike.”
his second failure, Alsoofi was allowed to retake the
portions of the exercise he failed on November 28, 2012.
(Id.) Alsoofi was allowed to “remediate”
the sections titled “Books and Records, ”
“Willfulness, ” and “Explanation and
Defense of Subject.” (Id.) Alsoofi was scored
on the three sections he retook, and earned a score of
75.15%. (Id.) This failure was Alsoofi's third
to the NCITA's “three strike” policy, SAI
Scanlon briefed her supervisor, Assistant Director McClinton
(“McClinton”), and recommended that Alsoofi be
removed from the training program due to his academic
failure. (Id. at 14-15.) Between August 2009 and
November 2016, Scanlon has recommended the removal of over 30
trainees from the NCITA program due to academic failure.
(Id. at 15.) Scanlon once recommended the removal of
a trainee who failed his third practical exercise with a
score of 79.70%. (Id.)
on Scanlon's recommendation, McClinton recommended
Alsoofi's removal from the program to the Director of
NCITA, Terry Stuart (“Stuart”). (Id.) On
November 30, 2012, Stuart relayed McClinton's
recommendation to Director of Strategy Charles Hunter
(“Hunter”). (Id.) Hunter made the final
decision to remove Alsoofi from the training program. The IRS
arranged for Alsoofi to return to his former position as a
revenue officer. (Id.) Alsoofi was placed in the
Pontiac, Michigan office, but later returned to his original
office location in Clinton Township, Michigan on March 10,
the original cohort of 24 trainees, only Alsoofi and trainee
AG were removed from the training program for academic
failure. (Id.) AG failed a written examination, the
Specific Item practical exercise, and the Report Writing
practical exercise. (Id.)
filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”)
claim against the Department of Treasury, IRS, asserting that
his removal was the result of discriminatory practices. (Doc
# 41-2) The EEO process concluded on April 13, 2016. (Doc #
4, Pg. 2) Alsoofi subsequently filed this suit on July 12,
2016. (Doc # 1)