United States District Court, District of Columbia
August 30, 2002
HOMI N. AMIRMOKRI, PLAINTIFF,
SPENSER ABRAHAM, SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman, District Judge.
This is an employment discrimination case in which the
plaintiff, an employee of the Department of Energy, is suing the
Department for employment discrimination based upon his race and
national origin. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that the
Department of Energy delayed his promotion, denied his training
requests and caused him to forfeit annual leave. The case is
before the Court on defendant's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings or for Transfer of Venue.
The defendant argues that this case should be dismissed or
transferred for improper venue because plaintiff has at all
times relevant to the allegations in the complaint worked for
the Department of Energy in Germantown, Maryland, not in the
District of Columbia; that the discriminatory actions plaintiff
alleges all took place in and related to his work in Germantown,
Maryland; and that plaintiffs employment records are kept in
Maryland, not in the District of Columbia. Plaintiff responds
that venue is proper in the District of Columbia because the
headquarters of the Department of Energy are here; because
William Magwood, who has ultimate authority with respect to
promotion decisions, works at Department of Energy headquarters
in the District of Columbia; and because records of the
investigation of plaintiffs discrimination complaint are in the
District of Columbia. Plaintiff relies on the general venue
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e), while defendant relies on the
special venue provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Upon consideration of the
arguments of the parties, the Court grants defendant's motion to
The Court agrees with the defendant that in actions brought
under Title VII, venue must be determined according to the
statute's special venue provision, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3).
That section provides in relevant part:
Such an action may be brought  in any judicial
district in the State in which the unlawful
employment practice is alleged to have been
committed,  in the judicial district in which the
employment records relevant to such practice are
maintained and administered, or  in the judicial
district in which the aggrieved person would have
worked but for the alleged unlawful employment
practice, 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). Numerous judges of this Court have
held that the special venue provision of Title VII, not
28 U.S.C. § 1391(e), applies in Title VII employment discrimination
cases, and that under that statute, venue over many employment
cases against the government is proper in districts other than
this District because the situs of the alleged wrongdoing, or
the records, or the present or potential future workplace is
there. See Price v. Pirie, No. 01-2439, at *1, 2 (D.C. April
30, 2002) (Friedman, J.); Carver v. Babbitt, No. 98-3175, at
*5 (D.C. March 15, 2001) (Roberts, J.) (Def.'s Reply, Ex. 1);
Malek v. Shalala, No. 99-2552, at *4, 6 (D.C. March 13, 2001)
(Hogan, J.) (Def.'s Reply, Ex. 2); Counts v. Reno, No.
95-1911, 1996 WL 148510, at *1-2 (D.C. March 28, 1996)
(Friedman, J.); Jenkins v. West, No. 950789, 1995 WL 704018,
at *2 (D.C. Oct. 23, 1995) (Hogan, J.); Shipkovitz v.
Mosbacher, No. 90-2159, 1991 WL 251864, at *7 (D.C. Nov. 12,
1991) (Richey, J.); Archuleta v. Sullivan, 725 F. Supp. 602,
603-604, 604-605 (D.C. 1989) (Revercomb, J.); Donnell v.
National Guard Bureau, 568 F. Supp. 93, 94 (D.C. 1983) (Green,
J.). To reach any other conclusion effectively would mean that
all employment discrimination suits against the government would
have to be brought in this Court merely because the headquarters
of most government agencies are here. As the language of the
statute makes plain, that is not what Congress intended. See
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3); Stebbins v. State Farm Mutual Auto.
Ins. Co., 413 F.2d 1100, 1102 (D.C.Cir. 1969) (it was the
"intent of Congress to limit venue to the judicial districts
concerned with the alleged discrimination").
In this case, it is undisputed that the plaintiff worked in
the Germantown, Maryland office of the Department of Energy and
that he would have continued to work in that office but for the
alleged unlawful employment practice. Furthermore, Mr. Magwood's
affidavit makes clear that although Mr. Magwood had the right to
review decisions made by plaintiffs immediate supervisor, Robert
Lange, Mr. Lange — who works in the Germantown, Maryland office
— made the decision about plaintiffs promotion readiness.
(Magwood Aff. at 1-6, Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 2.) In addition,
plaintiffs allegations that he was denied training, denied
permission to carry over leave, and threatened that his filing
of a complaint would make his promotion unlikely all were
directed at Mr. Lange, his supervisor in Maryland. Thus, the
unlawful employment practices that are alleged to have been
committed occurred exclusively in the District of Maryland and
not in the District of Columbia.
As for the relevant records, the special venue provision of
Title VII makes clear that suit must be brought in the judicial
district "in which the employment records relevant to such
[unlawful employment] practice are maintained and administered."
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) (emphasis added). In this case, that
district is the District of Maryland. While it may be true that
records relating to plaintiff's
unlawful employment practice complaint and the investigation
thereof are maintained in the District of Columbia, such records
are not "employment records" within the meaning of the statute.
See Washington v. General Electric Corp., 686 F. Supp. 361, 363
(D.C. 1988). Because venue is not proper in the District of
Columbia under the special venue provision of Title VII, and
because all of the acts relevant to plaintiffs complaint
occurred in Maryland, the Court grants defendant's motion for a
transfer of venue to the District of Maryland.
An Order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion shall be
issued this same day.
Upon consideration of defendant's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings or for Transfer of Venue, plaintiffs opposition and
defendant's reply, and for the reasons stated in the Memorandum
Opinion issued this same day, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
or for Transfer of Venue is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part;
FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for judgment on the pleadings
is DENIED; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion for transfer of venue
is GRANTED; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that this case is TRANSFERRED to the United
States District Court for the District of Maryland; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall transfer all
papers in this proceeding, together with a certified copy of
this Order, to the United States District Court for the District
of Maryland; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall remove this case
from the docket of this Court.
© 1992-2003 VersusLaw Inc.