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Gray v. LaHood

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 18, 2013

Rebecca R. GRAY, Plaintiff,
v.
Ray LaHOOD, Secretary, Department of Transportation, Defendant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Harry James Jordan, Jordan and Associates, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Laurie J. Weinstein, United States Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOHN D. BATES, District Judge.

Defendant Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation (" DOT" ), has moved for dismissal or alternatively for summary judgment on two counts of plaintiff's discrimination complaint. Plaintiff Rebecca Gray, who worked for the agency after accepting a position with a government contractor, brought this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., alleging that she was not selected to two positions with the agency due to sex and age discrimination, that her position was terminated due to retaliation, and that she was subjected to a hostile work environment. DOT challenges Gray's termination claim (Count IV), arguing that she was a contractor

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and not an " employee" within the meaning of Title VII at the time of her termination. DOT also argues that Gray's hostile work environment claim (Count II) should be dismissed because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies for this claim and because she fails to state a claim. For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny DOT's motion at this time.[1]

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Rebecca Gray, a woman born in 1947, is trained in psychology. See Compl. [Docket Entry 1] ¶¶ 2, 5 (Dec. 9, 2011). In April 1999, she accepted a position as a Human Factors Analyst with a government contractor providing support services for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and she then accepted a job with L-3 Communications Titan, a government contractor providing similar services. See id. ¶ 7. FAA's Human Factors Research and Engineering Group within DOT analyzes how people see, hear, think, and physically function to ensure systems work as effectively and safely as possible. DOT contracted with HiTech Corporation to perform tasks associated with that work. HiTech, in turn, subcontracted the work to Titan. See Def.'s Ex. A [Docket Entry 10-3] ¶ 1 (June 15, 2012). Pursuant to these arrangements, Gray began working onsite at FAA offices in 2001.

In subsequent years, Gray applied for vacancies in the Human Factors branch but was not selected. See Compl. ¶ 9. In 2006, she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint against DOT under Title VII based primarily on two nonselections. See id. ¶ 14; see also Pl.'s First EEO Compl. [Docket Entry 20-1] (Jan. 15, 2006). At some point, the agency decided not to develop an additional statement of work for the HiTech Contract, and in 2008, when the existing work concluded, Gray was informed that her position was eliminated. See Compl. ¶ 28. The agency explained that the decision was based on budget constraints. Id. Gray filed a complaint against DOT based on this termination. Id. Subsequently, on December 9, 2011, Gray filed this suit.

While performing work for the Human Factors branch, Gray worked full time onsite at the agency. HiTech and Titan, rather than the agency, paid Gray's salary and benefits, and calculated her leave. The parties dispute the level of supervision agency officials exercised over Gray's work.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain " ‘ a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ in order to ‘ give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’ " Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam). Although " detailed factual allegations" are not ...


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