United States District Court, District of Columbia
P. Mehta United States District Judge
Delta Air Lines, Inc., seeks to dismiss certain of Plaintiff
Jaleana Stevenson's claims alleging unlawful employment
action and to transfer others to the Eastern District of
Louisiana. See Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss &
Transfer Venue, ECF No. 8. Because the court writes primarily
for the parties, it presumes their familiarity with the
Complaint's allegations and refers to those allegations
only as necessary to resolve Defendant's Motions.
begin, Plaintiff's claims under the Federal Medical Leave
Act (“FMLA”) are time-barred. The FMLA requires a
plaintiff to file a civil action within two years
“after the date of the last event constituting the
alleged violation for which the action is brought, ” or
within three years if the action is brought for a
“willful violation” of the statute. 29 U.S.C.
§ 2617(c)(1), (2). Here, Plaintiff admits that the
“last event constituting the alleged violation”
was her alleged constructive discharge on June 19, 2013.
See Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 11 [hereinafter
Pl.'s Opp'n], at 5; Compl., ECF No. 1 [hereinafter
Compl.], ¶ 13. Accordingly, for Plaintiff's FMLA
claims to be considered timely even under the longer
three-year limitations period, Plaintiff would have had to
bring them no later than June 19, 2016. She filed this action
on July 1, 2016. See Compl. (filed July 1, 2016).
Accordingly, Plaintiff's FMLA claims are time-barred, and
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss those claims is granted.
advances three different claims under Title VII: (1)
disparate treatment on the basis of her race; (2) retaliation
for engaging in protected activity; and (3) a hostile work
environment, leading to her constructive discharge. The court
grants Defendant's Motion in part by dismissing the
second and third of those claims.
state a plausible claim of disparate treatment, Plaintiff had
to allege facts reflecting that (1) she suffered an adverse
action (2) because of her race. See Baloch v.
Kempthorne, 550 F.3d 1191, 1196 (D.C. Cir. 2008). A
plaintiff need not plead specific facts establishing a prima
facie case of discrimination, but rather, need only allege
facts that “give the [defendant] fair notice of the
basis for [the plaintiff's] claims.”
Swierkeweicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514
(2012). In Swierkeweicz, the Court held that a
complaint alleging age discrimination satisfied the notice
pleading requirement where it “detailed the events
leading to [the plaintiff's] termination, provided
relevant dates, and included the ages and nationalities of at
least some of the relevant persons involved with his
termination.” Id. In light of
Swierkeweicz, “courts in this Circuit have
consistently recognized the ease with which a plaintiff
claiming employment discrimination can survive . . . a motion
to dismiss.” Fennell v. AARP, 770 F.Supp.2d
118, 127 (D.D.C. 2011) (alteration in original) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff sufficiently alleges a claim of race-based
discrimination, albeit barely, because she identifies the
adverse employment actions purportedly taken against
her-demotion and constructive discharge-and when they
occurred. Although Defendant correctly points out that the
text of the Complaint itself does not allege that the adverse
actions occurred because of her race, Plaintiff's
pleading includes an exhibit, which the court may consider in
determining whether she has stated a claim. See Stewart
v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 471 F.3d 169, 173 (D.C.
Cir. 2006). Plaintiff attached to her Complaint the
administrative complaint that she filed with the Louisiana
Commission on Human Rights, which does allege that she
suffered the adverse actions based on her “race.”
Compl., Ex., ECF No. 1-3. The Complaint's allegations,
when combined with the allegations made in the administrative
complaint, are sufficient to provide Defendant fair notice of
the basis for Plaintiff's discrimination claim. See
Swierkeweicz, 534 U.S. at 514. Therefore, the request to
dismiss Plaintiff's disparate treatment claim is denied.
other hand, Plaintiff has not pleaded sufficient facts to
support either her retaliation or hostile work environment
claims. Title VII makes unlawful only those discriminatory
employment actions taken against an employee “because
he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment
practice by this subchapter.” 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-3(a) (emphasis added). The Complaint alleges only that
Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff for complaining to her
manager about “the disclosure of her personal medical
information to her co-workers without Plaintiff's
knowledge or approval”-which is not activity protected
by Title VII. See Compl. ¶¶ 5, 10.
Therefore, Plaintiff has not alleged a viable retaliation
claim. Additionally, the allegations comprising
Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim come up short.
Plaintiff needed to allege facts establishing that
“[her] workplace [wa]s permeated with discriminatory
intimidation, ridicule, and insult that [wa]s sufficiently
severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of [her]
employment and create an abusive working environment.”
See Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21
(1993) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Her
allegations, however, are largely conclusory, see
Compl. ¶ 24 (claiming that she “was forced to
endure an atmosphere filled with constant threats of
termination and demeaning conduct”), and, at most,
allege only ordinary workplace indignities, see,
e.g., id. ¶ 11 (alleging unaddressed
physical threats from another employee on a single occasion),
such as “petty insults, vindictive behavior, and angry
recriminations that are not actionable under Title VII,
” Brooks v. Grundmann, 748 F.3d 1273, 1277-78
(D.C. Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Therefore, the court dismisses Plaintiff's retaliation
and hostile work environment claims under Title
to the Eastern District of Louisiana
remains of Plaintiff's Complaint is a claim for disparate
treatment on the basis of her race under Title VII and a
claim for discrimination under the Americans with
Disabilities Act, the latter of which Defendant did not seek
to dismiss. Defendant urges the court, over Plaintiff's
objection, to transfer these remaining claims to the District
Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The court will
Section 1404(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code, a
court may transfer a case to another judicial district
“where it might have been brought” “for the
convenience of parties and witnesses, [and] in the interest
of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). That analysis
involves a two-step process. The court first must determine
whether the transferee district is one where the action
“might have been brought, ” and then balance the
private and public interests involved in the proposed
transfer to determine “whether the defendant has
demonstrated that considerations of convenience and the
interest of justice support a transfer.” Barham v.
UBS Fin. Servs., 496 F.Supp.2d 174, 178 (D.D.C. 2007).
In this case, there is no dispute that Plaintiff could have
brought this case in the Eastern District of Louisiana
because the acts about which she complains occurred there.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). The parties'
dispute lies in the balancing of interests.
a plaintiff's choice of forum ordinarily is accorded
deference in the balancing of interests, that deference is
diminished when the plaintiff has not selected her home forum
and “there is an insubstantial factual nexus between
the case and the plaintiff's chose forum.” Fed.
Hous. Fin. Agency v. First Tenn. Bank Nat'l
Ass'n, 856 F.Supp.2d 186, 192 (D.D.C. 2012)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff claims that her
choice of forum is entitled to deference because the District
of Columbia “is where [she] is currently.”
Pl.'s Opp'n at 15. But she offers no evidence to
support that contention. This court's Local Civil Rules
require that “[t]he first filing by or on behalf of a
party shall have in the caption the name and full residence
address of the party.” LCvR 5.1(c)(1). Plaintiff
complied with that requirement when, upon filing her
Complaint, she identified her address as “238 S.
Salcedo Street, New Orleans, LA 70119.” Compl. at 1.
The Local Civil Rules further provide that, “[u]nless
changed by notice filed with the Clerk, the address . . . of
a party . . . noted on the first filing shall be
conclusively taken as the last known address . . .
of the party . . . .” LCvR 5.1(c)(1) (emphasis added).
Plaintiff has not notified the court of any change in
address. Her home address, therefore, is presumed to be in
New Orleans. See Id. Because the District of
Columbia is not Plaintiff's home forum-and the events at
issue have no apparent connection to this district-the court
affords her choice of forum diminished deference.
that conclusion, the court's decision to transfer this
matter to the Eastern District of Louisiana is an easy one.
The court need not address each individual private and public
interest factor. It suffices to say that Plaintiff lives in
the Eastern District of Louisiana, the events at issue all
occurred in that district, the witnesses and other evidence
are found there, and there is a strong local interest in
resolving this case where the operative events occurred.
Simply put, because this case has no apparent connection to
the District of Columbia, not a single factor favors