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Stout v. Napolitano

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

February 24, 2014

SAMANTHA L. STOUT, Plaintiff,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO, in her Official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Dep't. of Homeland Security, Defendant

For SAMANTHA L. STOUT, Plaintiff: Stephen Girard DeNigris, STEPHEN G. DENIGRIS, PC, Washington, DC.

For JANET A. NAPOLITANO, in her official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Defendant: Jeremy S. Simon, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

Page 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Samantha Stout brings this action seeking damages, reinstatement, and injunctive relief for alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) based on her gender. She raises claims of disparate treatment, hostile work environment, and retaliation for protected activity. Defendant Janet Napolitano, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, moves to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendant also moves to dismiss, or in the alternative, transfer pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) for Plaintiff's failure to lay venue according to the special venue provision for Title VII actions, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Upon consideration of the motion, the entire record, the applicable law, for the reasons stated below, and in the interest of justice, the Court will TRANSFER the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

II. BACKGROUND

Ms. Stout is a white female who was employed by the Federal Air Marshall Service (" FAMS" ) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (" TSA" )from December 19, 2010 to June 3, 2011. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 5, 12. She is 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 100 pounds. Plaintiff's employment with the Federal Air Marshall Service was conditional -- she was required to complete Phase I and Phase II training programs in order to secure full time employment. Id. ¶ 13. Ms. Stout participated in and successfully completed Phase I of the required training in Artesia, New Mexico from January 5 to March 2, 2011. As part of the Phase I training, she also completed firearms training and exceeded the minimum standard for firearms qualification. Id. ¶ ¶ 15-16. Following her successful completion of Phase I training, Planitiff entered Phase II training at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Id. ¶ 17. There, Plaintiff was trained by David K., a Federal Air Marshal Instructor, and Rolf W., a Senior Federal Air Marshal Instructor. Id. ¶ ¶ 7-8.[1]

Ms. Stout alleges that she was subject to discrimination from the outset of the Phase II training. She alleges that her instructors " engaged in [a] systematic, concerted, and repeated effort to bring about [her] failure in Phase II training because of her sex and diminutive stature." Id. ¶ 18. According to Ms. Stout, her instructors subjected her to a variety of demeaning and abusive behavior, including: ridiculing her on the basis of her sex and size; refusing to provide assistance in hanging her target for shooting practice and refusing to allow others to help her; directing the other students in the training to watch her attempt to hang the target unsuccessfully; kneeling on their knees to speak with her and bending down to shout

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in her face; refusing to allow her to use a magazine loading device or letting her demonstrate her proficiency during a night shoot; reducing the quality of her training; creating and maintaining a hostile training environment; and enforcing standards more harshly against her. Id. ¶ 19. Ms. Stout alleges that this purported treatment " reflected a belief by the defendant that the plaintiff could not be an effective federal air marshal because she was not a strong tall man" and was " more than isolated, accidental or sporadic." Id. ¶ ¶ 20-22.

Ms. Stout was removed from Phase II training on March 31, 2011 after she failed to pass the firearms certification. Id. ¶ 23. She was sent to the Philadelphia Field Office of the Federal Air Marshal Service and was eventually terminated on June 3, 2011 for failure to meet a condition of her employment. Id. ¶ ¶ 23-24. Plaintiff alleges that if she had not been subjected to the purportedly discriminatory behavior by her instructors, she " would have received a passing score on firearms training and would not have been terminated." Id. ¶ 25.

Plaintiff initiated EEO contact on or about April 1, 2011. Id. ¶ 45. She was notified of the conclusion of EEO counseling on June 16, 2011 and filed a formal complaint on June 28, 2011. Id., Ex. A, Final Agency Decision at 1-2. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that she was discriminated against on the basis of sex and physical or mental disability, and also on the basis of retaliation and reprisal. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 1, EEO Complaint, at 2. Plaintiff received a final decision from the agency on May 2, 2012; she filed her Complaint this action on July 27, 2012 and filed an ...


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