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SPENCER v. RUMSFELD

January 28, 2002

WILLIAM W. SPENCER, JR., PLAINTIFF,
V.
DONALD H. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The pro se plaintiff, William W. Spencer, Jr. ("the plaintiff" or "Mr. Spencer"), brings this action against Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense ("the defendant" or "Mr. Rumsfeld"), named in his official capacity. Mr. Spencer, an employee at the Defense Information Systems Agency ("DISA") of the Department of Defense ("DoD"), claims that the defendant discriminated against him on the basis of race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). The plaintiff seeks a promotion and retroactive pay. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the defendant's motion to transfer venue.

II. BACKGROUND

Mr. Spencer has worked at DISA since 1969. See Compl. at 2; Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or, in the alternative, to Transfer Venue ("Mot. to Dismiss") at 1. He currently works as a Telecommunications Manager. See Compl. at 1-2. DISA is located in Arlington, Virginia. See Mot. to Dismiss at 1. Mr. Spencer, an African-American, claims that DISA denied him a promotion in favor of a white male who worked in the same branch. See Compl. at 2. Mr. Spencer alleges that DISA promoted the white male even though Mr. Spencer was better qualified for the job. See id. at 3.

On February 10, 1988, Mr. Spencer filed a formal discrimination complaint with the Director of Equal Employment Opportunity at the Defense Communication Agency, now known as DISA.*fn1 See Compl. at 2. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") decided the case in DISA's favor on September 22, 1999 and denied Mr. Spencer's request for reconsideration on August 15, 2000. See Compl. Ex. 1-2. Because the EEOC decision was final, Mr. Spencer could file a civil action in an appropriate United States District Court. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1).

On November 20, 2000, Mr. Spencer, proceeding pro se, filed his complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He alleges employment discrimination on the basis of race in violation of Title VII. See Compl. at 1. On May 18, 2001, DoD moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). DoD argues that venue is improper in this district under the Title VII venue statute, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). The court agrees with the defendant and will transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3), a Title VII action may be brought in any one of four judicial districts. The statute provides that:

Such an action may be brought in [1] any judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed, [2] in the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered, or [3] in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice, [4] but if the respondent is not found within any such district, such an action may be brought within the judicial district in which the respondent has his principal office.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). In Title VII cases, Congress intended to limit venue to those jurisdictions concerned with the alleged discrimination. See Stebbins v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 413 F.2d 1100, 1102 (D.C.Cir. 1969).

If the plaintiff brings suit in a jurisdiction that does not satisfy one of the venue requirements listed in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e5(f)(3), venue is improper. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3); Washington v. General Electric Corp., 686 F. Supp. 361 (D.C. 1988). When a plaintiff files an action in the wrong venue, 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) directs courts to "dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case" to the proper venue. See 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Generally, the "interest of justice" instructs courts to transfer cases to the appropriate judicial district, rather than dismiss them. See Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 466, 82 S.Ct. 913, 8 L.Ed.2d 39 (1962).

B. The Court Transfers this Case to the Eastern District of ...

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