Khalid Khowaja v. Jefferson Sessions III

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit No. 18-1155 KHALID KHOWAJA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS III, Attorney General of the United States, Defendant-Appellee. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 2:16-cv-00983-NJ — Nancy Joseph, Magistrate Judge. ARGUED MAY 17, 2018 — DECIDED JUNE 27, 2018 Before BAUER, EASTERBROOK, and MANION, Circuit Judges. BAUER, Circuit Judge. Khalid Khowaja served as a Special Agent (SA) in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Milwaukee field office for nearly a year before his employment was terminated. Khowaja brought this lawsuit under Title VII, alleging that he was discriminated against and terminated from the FBI, and that he was subject to disparate treatment, 2 No. 18-1155 because he is Muslim. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Attorney General, and we affirm. I. BACKGROUND Prior to joining the FBI, Khowaja served as an Immigration Enforcement Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 2008 to 2012. On February 26, 2012, he began employment with the FBI as a SA on a two-year probationary term. He was assigned to the Milwaukee field office and placed in the office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Probationary SAs are evaluated using the FBI’s “Suitability Standards for Probationary Employees,” which include the following six “dimensions:” (1) conscientiousness; (2) coopera- tiveness; (3) emotional maturity; (4) initiative; (5) integrity and honesty; and (6) judgment. A deficiency in any one of these dimensions can result in a SA’s removal. During his employment, Khowaja’s judgment, or lack thereof, was frequently cited as an area of concern by his immediate supervisor, Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Mark Green, which ultimately formed the basis for his termination. On June 17, 2013, a recommendation for removal report was approved by SSA Green as well as the field office’s Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Teresa Carlson, and the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), G.B. Jones. The report listed several instances where Khowaja demonstrated a lack of suitability in the judgment dimension. Importantly, Khowaja does not dispute that any of these instances occurred. In October 2012, Khowaja went to a local jail to recruit an inmate as a Confidential Human Source (CHS), but failed to provide Miranda warnings before interviewing the inmate. SSA No. 18-1155 3 Green counseled Khowaja about this mistake, and noted that he should have known to administer Miranda warnings to an individual in custody given his prior law enforcement experi- ence. Rather than accept this counsel, Khowaja argued with SSA Green and defended his actions. In another instance, Khowaja was instructed, and ulti- mately failed, to properly coordinate with local law enforce- ment officials before taking investigative actions. In December 2012, Khowaja was working an investigation of a threatening subject in West Bend, Wisconsin, which the local police had been involved with from the beginning. Without coordination from local law enforcement or approval from his supervisors, Khowaja independently interviewed administrators at the West Bend High School regarding the ...

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