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Thomas v. Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

May 15, 2014

DIONE THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
SOTERA DEFENSE SOLUTIONS, INC., et al., Defendants

For Dione Thomas, Plaintiff: John T. Harrington, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP, P.C., Washington, DC SA; R. Scott Oswald, LEAD ATTORNEY, EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP, P.C., Washington, DC USA.

For Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc., Defendant: Mary E. Pivec, LEAD ATTORNEY, WILLIAMS MULLEN, Washington, DC USA; Lynn F. Jacob, WILLIAMS MULLEN, Richmond, VA USA.

For Verizon Federal, Inc., Defendant: Emmett Francis McGee, LEAD ATTORNEY, JACKSON LEWIS LLP, Baltimore, MD USA.

Page 182

MEMORANDUM OPINION

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Dione Thomas brings this action against Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc. (" Sotera" ) and Verizon Federal, Inc. (" Verizon" ) for discrimination and retaliation on the basis of her gender and race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ) and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (" DCHRA" ). Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. Defendant Verizon has filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Def. Verizon Fed., Inc.'s Am. Mot. to Dismiss, or, in the Alt., to Transfer Venue to the E. Dist. of Va. at 1 [Dkt. # 8] (" Defs.' Mot." ).[1] Defendant Sotera has joined this motion. Def. Sotera Def. Solutions, Inc.'s Resp. to Def. Verizon Fed., Inc.'s Am. Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alt., to Transfer Venue to the E. Dist. of Va. at 1 [Dkt. # 11]. Since the District of Columbia is not the proper venue for this action, the Court will grant defendants' motion in part by transferring the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and by dismissing the claims plaintiff brought under the DCHRA.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states that she is an African American woman who resides in the District of Columbia. Compl. ¶ ¶ 10, 13. She has been employed by defendant Sotera since 2005. Id. ¶ 23. According to defendants, Sotera is party to a sub-contract with Federal Network Systems, LLC (" FNS" ), a limited liability company owned by Verizon. Mem. in Supp. of Def. Verizon Fed., Inc.'s Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alt., to Transfer Venue to the E. Dist. of Va. at 2 [Dkt. # 7-1] (" Defs.' Mem." ). The United States government contracted with FNS to " provide certain services on a classified project," and Sotera is a subcontractor that provides services and staffing for this project -- referred to as the " Secret Project" -- at a facility in an undisclosed location in Virginia. Id. Both Sotera and Verizon are headquartered in Virginia. Compl. ¶ ¶ 11-12. Defendants assert that plaintiff works on the Secret Project, Defs.' Mem. at 2, which plaintiff does not dispute.

Plaintiff alleges that Verizon has discriminatorily passed her over for numerous promotions for which she was qualified, and that in each instance, a man -- usually a white man, and usually a less qualified man -- was promoted instead. Compl. ¶ ¶ 31, 41, 58-59, 76-77, 109-110. She further claims that Sotera, her direct employer, " acquiesced in, and ratified" each of Verizon's discriminatory personnel decisions. Id. ¶ ¶ 34, 42, 63, 78, 100, 111. In addition, plaintiff alleges that on one occasion, she was promoted and then quickly demoted allegedly because she had skipped a level in the employment hierarchy, even though several white males had been permitted to skip levels. Id. ¶ ¶ 48-51. Finally, plaintiff contends that defendants retaliated against her for repeatedly complaining about their failure to promote her, including by demoting her a second time, and by refusing to permit her to apply for a promotion. Id. ¶ ¶ 131, 159, 181, 209.

Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) on January 23, 2013, Ex. 1 to Defs.' Mot. at 1 [Dkt. # 7-2], which she amended on May 17, 2013. Ex. 2 to Pl.'s Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Her Opp. to

Page 183

Sotera Def. Solution's Resp. to Verizon's Am. Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alt., to Transfer Venue at 1a [Dkt. # 14-2]. Plaintiff received notice of her right to sue defendants from the EEOC on July 31, 2013, Ex. 2 to Defs.' Mot. at 1 [Dkt. # 7-3], and filed her complaint in this Court on November 25, 2013. Compl. at 1.

Defendants ask the Court to dismiss or to transfer the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) (2013), arguing that venue is not proper in the District of Columbia under Title VII. See Defs.' Mem. at 8-10. They further contend that the Court should dismiss Counts III, IV, VII, and VIII of the complaint, which assert violations of District of Columbia law, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). Id. at 14-16. Finally, defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's claims for ...


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