Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 94cv01261)
Before: Henderson, Rogers and Tatel, Circuit Judges.
Karen LeCraft Henderson, Circuit Judge
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge Henderson.
Paul Paquin alleges that the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. Section(s) 621 et seq., and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA), D.C. Code Ann. Section(s) 1-2501 et seq., by terminating him based on his age and by taking two retaliatory actions against him for engaging in conduct protected by the ADEA and the DCHRA. The district court awarded summary judgment to Fannie Mae on all of Paquin's claims. Paquin challenges the district court's award of summary judgment, its failure to order full discovery relating to performance evaluations of similarly situated employees at Fannie Mae and the magistrate judge's denial of expert fee reimbursement. We reverse the district court's refusal to order further discovery and, on that basis, reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment on Paquin's termination claim. With respect to Paquin's two retaliation claims we affirm the district court on one and reverse on the other. Finally, we affirm the magistrate judge's refusal to award expert fee reimbursement.
Paquin, currently 53 years old, began working for Fannie Mae in 1972 and four years later moved into Fannie Mae's newly formed Investor Relations Department (Department). Within that department he was promoted from manager to vice president to senior vice president, the highest position in the Department. The Department work has both an "external" aspect, involving relations with investors and analysts outside Fannie Mae, and an "internal" aspect, involving communications and strategy development within the company. The record is clear that Paquin performed the external aspects of his job well but, according to Fannie Mae, Paquin was deficient as to internal matters. Fannie Mae also claims that its senior management was disappointed with Paquin's performance on specific projects, such as Fannie Mae's 1993 Investor/Analyst Biennial Conference.
Toward the end of 1993 Fannie Mae decided to terminate Paquin. Paquin was informed of the decision on February 14, 1994. He was offered a severance agreement, valued at approximately $600,000, was informed he should review it with his lawyer and was given until March 8, 1994, to accept the offer. The proposed severance agreement included a waiver of any legal claims. On March 1, 1994 Paquin's lawyer wrote a letter to Fannie Mae stating that Paquin believed his age played a role in Fannie Mae's decision to terminate him and requesting a severance package worth in excess of $4 million. In return Paquin offered to sign a release. Although the parties engaged in negotiations Fannie Mae ultimately refused to alter the terms of the original offer. According to Fannie Mae the deadline for accepting the original offer was extended to March 16, 1994 but Paquin maintains there was no such extension.
On March 17, 1994 Paquin filed a charge of unlawful termination and retaliation with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That same day Fannie Mae sent a letter to Paquin stating that, because he had not accepted the now-expired offer, Paquin had been terminated effective close of business on March 16th without severance benefits. On June 8, 1994 Paquin filed suit in district court alleging unlawful termination and retaliation under the ADEA and the DCHRA. At the close of discovery Fannie Mae moved for summary judgment on all of Paquin's claims, which motion was granted. Paquin then filed this appeal.