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Horsey v. Harris

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 16, 2013

MAE HORSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
SETH D. HARRIS, Acting Secretary, Department of Labor, Defendant

Page 204

MAE R. HORSEY, Plaintiff, Pro se, Stafford, VA.

For HILDA SOLIS, Secretary, Department of Labor, Defendant: Peter C. Pfaffenroth, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 205

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Mae Horsey, proceeding pro se, brings this action against defendant Seth D. Harris in his capacity as Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (" Department" ). [1] The events giving rise to this case stem fro Horsey's employment at the Department. Her complaint, liberally construed, alleges discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 621 et seq.; violations of the merit system principles and prohibited personnel practices, 5 U.S.C. § § 2301 and 2302; and other allegedly unlawful actions by the Department.

Before the Court is the Department's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and, in the alternative, for a more definite statement. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Department's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

Horsey is an African-American woman who was employed by the Department in the Office of Executive Resources and Personnel Security. See Ex. B to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Entry 6-2] at 4 (Jan. 4, 2013). [2] In April 2006, Andrea Burckman became Horsey's immediate supervisor. See id. Most of Horsey's complaints in this matter derive from her experience working under Burckman. Horsey's troubles with Burckman began when Burckman gave Horsey a performance evaluation rating of " Effective" for Fiscal Year 2006, rather than the " Exemplary" rating which Horsey thought she deserved. See Ex. 1 to Compl. [Docket Entry 1-1] at 1, 9 (Aug. 31, 2012). Horsey unsuccessfully attempted to challenge her rating with other Department management. See Compl. [Docket Entry 1] at 3 (Aug. 31, 2012).

Burckman began implementing new office policies that caused further friction between her and Horsey. For example, in September 2006, Burckman started requiring one staff member to provide office coverage until 5:00 p.m. each night. See Ex. B to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 4-5. Staff were assigned this responsibility on a rotating basis and were advised to manage their schedules so that they did not accumulate

Page 206

credit hours in connection with performing office coverage. See id. [3] Horsey asked to be exempted from the 5:00 p.m. office coverage obligation because she paid to commute home in a vanpool which left at 4:15 p.m., and Burckman denied the request. See Ex. D to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 2.

Burckman also made organizational changes. Based on the needs of the office, Team Leader positions were abolished. See Ex. 2 to Compl. [Docket Entry 1-2] at 2 (Aug. 31, 2012). As a result of this decision, Horsey's position was reassigned from Lead Human Resources Specialist to Human Resources Specialist in November 2006, though her grade level (GS-14) remained the same. See Ex. 3 to Compl. [Docket Entry 1-3] at 8 (Aug. 31, 2012). Burckman additionally reorganized the work distribution of the office in an effort to improve consistency and accountability. See Ex. B to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 6-7.

After discovering that staff members were accumulating credit hours that she did not believe their workloads necessitated, Burckman informed staff in January 2007 that they needed prior approval from her in order to properly earn credit hours. See id. at 7; Ex. D to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 2. Burckman further advised staff that failure to comply with this guidance could result in disciplinary action. See Ex. D to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 2-3. Horsey generally alleges that her workload was excessive, which, combined with the policies on 5:00 p.m. office coverage and pre-approval of credit hours, resulted in her working numerous hours uncompensated. See Compl. at 4-5.

In one pay period in January 2007, Horsey recorded 3.25 credit hours without seeking prior approval from Burckman. See Ex. B to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 7. Burckman altered Horsey's timesheet, but Horsey's credit hours were ultimately restored. See id. at 7-8. However, Burckman warned Horsey that she would be disciplined if she earned any unapproved credit hours again. See id. at 8.

Horsey nevertheless earned an additional two hours of credit time in March 2007, which she recorded as compensatory time. See id.; Ex. 5 to Compl. [Docket Entry 1-5] at 2 (Aug. 31, 2012). Consistent with her prior warnings, Burckman issued Horsey an official letter of reprimand on March 12, 2007. See Ex. 5 to Compl. at 3-4. The letter reprimanded Horsey for obtaining credit hours without prior approval and for unacceptable behavior in the office. See id.

Burckman gave Horsey a performance rating of " Minimally Satisfactory" for Fiscal Year 2007. See Ex. 2 to Compl. at 1; Ex. H to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Entry 6-8] at 3 (Jan. 4, 2013). Horsey again tried to protest the rating to other Department management but did not succeed. See Compl. ...


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