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Barbara M. Casey v. Ray Mabus

July 20, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Beryl A. Howell


The Plaintiff Barbara M. Casey, an African American woman, brings this employment discrimination action against Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et. seq., and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. A motion to dismiss the plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) is pending before the Court.*fn1 The Court grants the defendant's motion to dismiss for the reasons explained below.


On February 23, 2003, the plaintiff began working for the Department of the Navy as a Police Officer, which is a General Schedule ("GS") Grade 6 position within the standard federal government pay scale. Compl. ¶ 9. Approximately five and a half years later, on November 23, 2008, the plaintiff received a promotion to a GS-7 grade Police Officer Instructor position within the Training Division of the Navy Police, where "she was to work with New Police Hires as they reported to the command." Id. ¶¶ 9, 11. Following her promotion, the plaintiff received direct orders from Chief of Police Larry Graves, an African American male. Id. ¶ 11.

At the time of her promotion, the plaintiff was certified in many areas but had not yet obtained Firearms Instructor Certification, Instructors School Certification, or Navy Instructor Certification. Id. ¶ 10. Until the plaintiff obtained the missing certifications, she was instructed by Chief Graves to assist Training Department supervisors Lieutenant Richard Leon (a Hispanic male) and Lieutenant William Shively (an African American male) with trainings in the areas in which she was certified. Id.

The plaintiff alleges that while she worked under supervisors Lt. Leon and Lt. Shively, they "repeatedly planned and conducted training and did not include [her] in the planning process or the actual training of police officers" despite the fact that she was "a new instructor in that division" and was "certified to teach some of those courses." Id. She states that in July and August 2009 she requested "the training needed to acquire the missing certifications" but was never provided with such training. Id. Plaintiff also states that she "requested to attend training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center," which she alleges was "noted as 'required' for male officers of lesser rank." Id.

On August 28, 2009, while working under Lts. Leon and Shively, Security Officer Richard Sypher-a Caucasian male and a supervisor of the plaintiff-informed the plaintiff that she was responsible for ensuring that Naval Support Activity ("NSA") North Potomac (a group of Naval installations in the Washington, D.C. area) "continued to lead the region in training compliance." Id. ¶ 12. Shortly thereafter, on September 4, 2009, Chief Graves and Officer Sypher informed the plaintiff that "she would be overseeing the Training Department because Lt. Leon and Lt. Shively had been promoted." Id. ¶ 13. The plaintiff claims that at that time she presented Chief Graves and Officer Sypher with reports demonstrating the training deficiencies in the department that existed prior to her promotion to Police Officer Instructor and presented "a future training schedule that would alleviate these deficiencies." Id. The plaintiff requested access to a training laptop and personnel assistance from NSA North Potomac, but alleges that she never received "the necessary equipment or assistance . . . to properly and successfully conduct" training courses. Id. The plaintiff, however, was provided personnel assistance for her first training courses in September 2009 from Sergeant Timothy May, an African American male instructor from NSA Washington. Id ¶ 14.

In October 2009, the plaintiff again requested assistance from Sgt. May regarding upcoming training courses. Id. ¶ 15. The plaintiff alleges that Officer Sypher responded to this request "in a demeaning manner, suggesting that she was 'confused' as to how NSA North Potomac was to interact with NSA Washington." Id. Although the plaintiff was not provided assistance from Sgt. May, she was provided assistance from James Williams, an officer from outside the command. Id.

On November 19, 2009, Chief Graves informed the plaintiff that, effective December 6, 2009, she would be reassigned to "A-Squad as a Field Supervisor, a position that is lateral to her position as a Police Officer Instructor," where she would be working during the daytime shift.

Id. ¶¶ 16, 33. The plaintiff alleges that she was not given an explanation for the transfer, and that, as a result of this change, she "would be returning to the same or similar shift work," entailing duties that were "the same or similar to the duties of the position [she] was in prior to her promotion" to Police Officer Instructor. Id. According to the plaintiff, although "the Field Supervisor position provided [her] with some supervisory responsibilities, the division and position were less prestigious, the position did not provide [her] with the opportunity to utilize all of the teaching certifications she had received, and the position provided her with less professional growth and fewer opportunities for career advancement." Id. ¶ 16.

The day after being informed of her reassignment, on November 20, 2009, the plaintiff contacted the Department of the Navy's Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") office to initiate counseling. Id. ¶¶ 6, 17. Ten days later, on November 30, 2009, the plaintiff submitted a letter of hardship to Chief Graves explaining that "the sudden change in her job title and responsibilities, and the sudden change in her work schedule were the cause of great stress for [her]." Id. ¶ 18. Additionally, the letter explained that "her sudden reassignment to A-Squad daytime shift would cause her family extreme hardship," noting that her reassignment would make it difficult for her and her husband to transport their daughter to and from school. Id. In response to this letter, on December 7, 2009, Chief Graves informed the plaintiff that, to address the concerns she expressed in her letter of hardship, she would be reassigned to the A-Squad midnight shift, instead of the day shift, effective December 20, 2009. Id. ¶ 20.

The plaintiff alleges that, after initiating EEO counseling and questioning her reassignment, the plaintiff met with both Chief Graves and Officer Sypher and was told by Officer Sypher that "the Training Division was not satisfied with her training numbers." Id.

¶ 19. The plaintiff alleges there had been no prior dissatisfaction expressed within the Training Division about her work performance and that, despite his misgivings stated in the meeting, Officer Sypher offered to put a statement in writing that emphasized "she was a good worker and was indispensable to the command." Id. In a meeting with the plaintiff on December 7, 2009, however, Officer Sypher denied making this offer and allegedly threatened the plaintiff "by stating in a loud and aggressive manner," while "slam[ing] his hands on the desk," that "if he were to put any statements in writing, those statements would include an evaluation that would lead to a demotion." Id. ¶ 21.

Three months following this encounter and her reassignment, on March 10, 2010, the plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the EEO, which was dismissed on November 4, 2010, and the plaintiff received notice of the dismissal on November 29, 2010. Id. ¶ 6. The plaintiff then filed the Complaint in the instant case on February 25, 2011, within 90 days of receipt of the Final Agency Decision. Id.; see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c).

The plaintiff alleges, in three counts, that the conduct of the Department of the Navy employees violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et. seq., and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The plaintiff specifically asserts that the defendant engaged in race and gender discrimination (Count I), created a hostile work environment (Count II), and improperly retaliated against her for initiating contact with the EEO (Count III). See Compl. ¶¶ 1, 23--49. She seeks, inter alia, lost wages, compensatory damages, attorney fees, and declaratory and injunctive relief. See id. at 13.

Pending before the Court is the defendant's motion to dismiss the Complaint under FED.

R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). Upon consideration of this motion, and as explained below, the Court agrees that the plaintiff has failed to adequately state claims of race and gender discrimination, hostile work environment, or retaliation. Consequently, the defendant's ...

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