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Swann v. Office of The Architect of The Capitol

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 10, 2014

AUDREY SWANN, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL, Defendant

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For AUDREY SWANN, Plaintiff: Jeffrey Howard Leib, Washington, DC.

For OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL, Defendant: Andrea McBarnette, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Audrey Swann's career as an electrician in the House Office Buildings was short-circuited in 2012 when she was terminated by her employer--the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (" OAC" )--based on an Inspector General report that concluded she had falsified her employment application. Swann responded with two lawsuits against the OAC for gender discrimination and retaliation. In this, the first of the two, she alleges that the OAC discriminated and retaliated against her for having filed two prior discrimination suits against it.[1] The OAC has moved to dismiss Swann's Complaint, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. While sparks certainly flew during Swann's tenure at the OAC, the Court discerns little fire in her allegations. It therefore will dismiss or grant summary judgment for the OAC on all 22 counts of the Complaint.

I. Background

This marks Swann's third lawsuit against the OAC. In the first, 09-cv-1568 (" Swann I" ), she alleged that the OAC discriminated based on her gender by denying her a promotion, unfairly applying work rules, and failing to provide her separate female locker room facilities in the electrical shop of the House Office Buildings (" HOB" ). In the second, 11-cv-0419 (" Swann II" ), she alleged that the OAC discriminated and retaliated against her after she had a confrontation with a supervisor. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the OAC in both cases, which are now on appeal.

After Swann II was filed, the OAC's Office of Inspector General (" OIG" ) received an anonymous letter alleging that Swann had falsified her qualifications when she originally applied for her position in 2006. Swann IV Compl. ¶ 16. The OIG initiated an investigation and in March 2012 issued a report corroborating the allegations. The OAC terminated Swann on the basis of the OIG's findings. Id. ¶ ¶ 30-32. Swann now brings 22 separate counts of gender discrimination or retaliation based on the following seven alleged workplace incidents or policies:

o First, Swann alleges that during her interview in the OIG investigation, the investigator showed her a photograph of herself wearing a bathing suit (Count 1);
o Second, Swann claims that during his deposition in Swann I and Swann II, the Superintendent of the OAC " threatened" her by stating that she would be discharged based on the findings of the OIG's interim investigation (Count 2);

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o Third, she alleges that certain of her male colleagues made sexually-related comments in her presence despite being admonished not to do so by OAC management (Counts 5, 11, and 17);
o Fourth, she claims that she was not given the opportunity to work overtime during the biennial Congressional changeover in the winter of 2010-2011 (Counts 7, 13, and 19);
o Fifth, echoing an allegation in Swann I, she contends that the OAC declined her request to build a separate female locker room when it remodeled the House electrical division in November 2011 (Counts 6, 12, and 18);
o Sixth, she maintains that the OAC stopped giving her the benefit of a 7 1/2 minute grace period in determining whether she arrived late for work (Counts 8, 14, and 20); and
o Seventh, she asserts that an OAC policy requiring employees to wear civilian clothes while decorating the House and Capitol Office Buildings for the holidays was applied to her but not to her male colleagues (Counts 9, 15, and 21).

Swann also contends that, taken together, these alleged incidents created a hostile work environment for her as a woman (Counts 3, 4, 10, 16, and 22).

The OAC moves to dismiss a number of these counts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b), arguing either that the alleged conduct does not constitute an " adverse employment action" under Title VII and the Congressional Accountability Act (" CAA" ), or that the count otherwise fails to state a valid claim as a matter of law. It seeks summary judgment on the remaining counts, arguing that the allegations, assessed in light of declarations and other evidence submitted by the OAC, do not give rise to a reasonable inference that the OAC discriminated or retaliated against Swann. No ...


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