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Deborah R. Cole v. the Boeing Company

March 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge


Deborah R. Cole complains that The Boeing Company ("Boeing") discriminated against her on the basis of sex, retaliated when she complained, and imposed a hostile work environment. Boeing moves to dismiss, arguing that the District of Columbia Human Rights Act does not cover acts that occurred in the Commonwealth of Virginia and that Ms. Cole has failed to state a claim with respect to those acts that occurred in the District. The Court will grant in part and deny in part Boeing's motion.


Ms. Cole has filed a 418-paragraph Complaint specifying her claims in detail. According to Ms. Cole, the discrimination occurred in "three major phases." Compl. ¶ 1. The first phase is said to have occurred while Ms. Cole was working as a contractor at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency ("NGA") facility in Washington, D.C. Ms. Cole complains that she was retaliated against for making complaints to NGA's Office of Inspector General ("OIG") and for attempting to file an EEO charge. Ms. Cole also complains that she was subjected to a hostile work environment. The second phase occurred after Ms. Cole was transferred to the NGA facility in Crystal City, Virginia on October 4, 2010. During this phase, Ms. Cole alleges that she was subject to discrimination based on her sex and retaliation. The third phase occurred after Ms. Cole was transferred from the NGA facility to Boeing's facility in Springfield, Virginia on March 2, 2011. During this phase, Ms. Cole complains of discrimination, retaliation, and a hostile work environment. The Court will summarize the allegations that pertain to her work in the District of Columbia.

Ms. Cole was employed, in turn, by L1, Inc. and Boeing on contracts with the NGA at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard. "NGA is a combat support agency within the U.S. Department of Defense. NGA provides imagery, geospatial and targeting analysis for defense purposes, relief operations and navigation." Compl. ¶ 2 n.1. While at L1, Ms. Cole worked on a contract for the NGA's Science & Methodologies ("PLSS") Group. She left that employment*fn1 and was hired by Boeing on February 12, 2010 to work on a different NGA contract at the same location. Ms. Cole actually began to work for Boeing on February 23, 2010.

When Ms. Cole reported to work on the Boeing contract with NGA, the federal agency provided no work to her because she was a photogrammetrist and not a geospatial analyst. Throughout February and March, 2010, various NGA branch chiefs declined to add Ms. Cole to their groups because she was not a geospatial analyst. Sometime in March 2010, NGA employee Shawna McGee*fn2 invited Ms. Cole to work on her team; Ms. McGee's branch chief, Dean Compton, agreed to this proposal "about the middle of March 2010." Compl. ¶ 57. Ms. Cole was supervised by three Boeing employees: Rodd Chin, site lead; Dean Hand, Program Manager; and Don Vance, Division Manager. Although he was based in St. Louis, MO, Mr. Hand was Ms. Cole's immediate Boeing supervisor.

On April 1, 2010, Mr. Compton brought Ms. Cole into his office, shut the door, and yelled at her, accusing her of destroying a PLSS database. Ms. Cole "told him that she had no idea what he was talking about . . . . He said that he ha[d] worked a long time to develop a good working relationship with PLSS and now [Ms. Cole] had ruined it." Id. ¶ 62.

The next day, April 2, 2010, Mr. Compton again brought Ms. Cole into his office and told her that "he did not want her on the contract and was pulling her out of McGee's group." Id. ¶ 63. "Mr. Compton also told her that he never had any use for [her] in the first place because she was a photogrammetrist, and he only needed a geospatial analyst." Id. As a result, Ms. Cole only worked on Ms. McGee's team for approximately two weeks. Id. ¶ 65.

Ms. Cole reported these events to Mr. Hand on April 5, 2010, including Mr. Compton's "false accusations of her destroying a database and his continued harassment of her on this issue." Id. ¶ 66. Mr. Hand attempted to placate Ms. Cole by telling her that her job was safe, that her position was written into the contract with Boeing, and that "the geospatial analyst position was going to roll over into a photogrammetrist position." Id. ¶ 67. He also stated that he would take care of the issue and speak to Geoffrey Young, the NGA Branch Chief responsible for defense contractors on the Boeing-NGA contract about it.

When an investigator for the OIG came to the Navy Yard facility on April 12, 2010, Ms. Cole informed him that "the PLSS group and Mr. Compton were defaming her reputation by spreading lies about her and . . . she wanted it to stop." Id. ¶ 71. She also alleged harassment due to her gender and said that she wanted to file a charge with the agency's Office for Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO"). Id.

Ms. Cole was put on a different team, working on cartographic maps. Although Mr. Compton often visited the area in which she worked and talked to her co-workers, he never spoke with her or answered any of her work-related emails. A fellow employee reported to Ms. Cole that "PLSS had told Mr. Compton that [Ms. Cole] had destroyed their database." Id. ¶ 82.

On July 5, 2010, an NGA employee reported to Ms. Cole that she had overheard Mr. Compton on the telephone complaining that Ms. Cole was giving him trouble with the Inspector General and that he wanted to know when Ms. Cole would be off the Boeing-NGA contract. This report was followed by an instant message from another NGA employee on July 9, 2010, saying that she had heard Mr. Compton "tell someone on the phone about how [Ms. Cole] destroyed the PLSS database." Id. ¶ 86.

When Ms. Cole looked at the NGA website, she learned that employees of private sector contractors to NGA were to file EEO charges through their employers and not with NGA's EEO office. Although she forwarded a link to this information to Rodd Chin, the site lead employee, she did not receive a response. She talked to Mr. Hand, her Boeing supervisor, on July 9, 2010, and told him that "she thought Mr. Compton's slanderous allegations about her to the contract officer [were] reprisal for her filing a complaint against him with the OIG." Id. ¶ 93. On July 12, 2010, Ms. Cole learned from Mr. Hand that:

Mr. Compton was contacting people in charge of the contract and saying that [Ms. Cole] had went [sic] to the second floor (the PLSS group) after she started work with Boeing and purposefully logged in with a username and password so as to get into a confidential database, in order to destroy it. ...

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