United States District Court, District of Columbia
JANICE G. COCLOUGH, Plaintiff,
AKAL SECURITY, INC., et al., Defendants.
A. HOWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Janice G. Coclough brings this action against her former
employer, Akal Security, Inc., and two former supervisors,
Lois Epps and Josiah Eaves, under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended,
see 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.,
the District of Columbia Human Rights Act
(“DCHRA”), see D.C. Code §§
2-1401.01 et seq., and the Employees of District
Contractors and Instrumentality Whistleblower Protection Act
(“Whistleblower Act”), see D.C. Code
§§ 2-223.01 et seq. See generally
Pl.'s Second Am. Compl. for Declaratory J., Injunctive
Relief, and Monetary Damages, ECF No. 24. Pending before the
Court are the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 25; the
Plaintiff's Praecipe Requesting Entry of Default Against
Defendant Lois Epps, ECF No. 27; and the Plaintiff's
Motion for Entry of Default Against Defendant Lois Epps, ECF
on the defendants' representations that Epps now is
represented by counsel and that she joins in their
dispositive motion, see Def. Lois Epps'
Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Entry of Default Against Lois
Epps ¶¶ 4-5, ECF No. 30, the plaintiff's
motions are denied. For the reasons discussed below, the
defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part,
Security, Inc. (“Akal”) entered into a contract
with the District of Columbia for security services at the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior
Court”). Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Defs. Akal
Security, Inc. and Josiah Eaves's Mot. to Dismiss
Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., or, in the Alternative, for
Summ. J. (“Defs.' Mem.”) at 2, ECF No. 25-2.
The plaintiff described Akal as “one of the largest
contract security companies in the country” which
“provides security services and personnel to
courthouses across the country including . . . the Superior
Court[.]” Pl.'s Second Am. Compl for Declaratory
J., Injunctive Relief, and Monetary Damages
(“SAC”) ¶ 11.
plaintiff was an Akal employee in its Security Service
Program assigned to the Superior Court from October 4, 2010,
SAC ¶ 15, until her termination on July 17, 2016,
Defs.' Mem., Ex. A (Charge of Discrimination No.
570-2016-01588 dated June 23, 2016 (“EEOC
Charge”)) at 1. Lois Epps and Josiah Eaves were the
plaintiffs supervisors. SAC
¶¶ 12-13. The
“[p]laintiff was a member of a bargaining unit whose
terms and conditions of employment [were] governed by a
collective bargaining agreement . . . between Akal and the
International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals
of America and its Local 443, ” which agreement was in
effect from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2016.
Defs.' Mem. at 3; see generally Defs.'
Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File Second Am.
Compl., Ex. A (Collective Bargaining Agreement Between AKAL
Security Corporation, Inc. and the INTERNATIONAL UNION OF
SECURITY, POLICE, AND FIRE PROFESSIONAL[S] OF AMERICA (SPFPA)
and [its] Local 443 (“CBA”)), ECF No. 21-1. The
CBA “cover[ed] seniority, job opportunities, grievance
procedures, discipline, hours of work and overtime, wages,
leaves of absence, testing, training, and re-qualification,
and various other employment topics for LCSOs and other
bargaining unit positions.” Defs.' Mem. at 5. For
some period of time, the plaintiff held the positions of
In-Service Instructor and Shop Steward. See SAC
¶¶ 73, 94.
plaintiff described a “discriminatory and
unprofessional atmosphere” pervading the courthouse.
Id. ¶ 19. She allegedly began to
“experience gender discrimination” in 2010.
Id. ¶ 16. For example, she “was
passed-over for overtime work” and, if she ever were
offered overtime, it occurred only because male employees had
not taken these overtime hours. Id.; see
id. ¶ 28. She and other female employees would be
“sent out to other sites to work on Saturdays so that
the men could work in the main Courthouse, ” such that
“the male employees were less likely to . . . work
offsite.” Id. ¶ 18. Her requests in 2013
and 2014 “to switch her tour of duty to sometimes work
the midnight shift in order to care for her terminally ill
mother during the day” were denied, id. ¶
26, while her “male colleagues were permitted to switch
and work the evening shift, ” id. ¶ 27.
Male employees would accuse the female employees of
“complain[ing] when given an assignment or denied a
benefit or privilege afforded to the male employees.”
Id. ¶ 17.
to the plaintiff, “[o]n a daily basis through 2014-2016
when [she] would patrol the courthouse with a female
coworker, male security personnel in the control room,
” id. ¶ 37, used cameras, id.
¶ 38, to follow her and her coworker throughout the
building and made “lewd and embarrassing
comments” about them over the intercom system,
id. ¶ 37. “[M]ale employees would also
speculate . . . that [p]laintiff and her female coworker were
lesbians and in a relationship.” Id. ¶
39. Such speculation became “common knowledge” in
the workplace, causing the plaintiff to suffer embarrassment
and humiliation. See id. ¶¶ 39-41. Since
cameras and intercoms were placed throughout the courthouse,
the “[p]laintiff could never escape [this] behavior,
” id. ¶ 38, which allegedly
“continued up to the time [the p]laintiff was
terminated, ” id. ¶ 42. The plaintiff
complained to Eaves and Epps about this behavior, yet
“no Akal employee faced any discipline in connection
with [his] actions towards [the p]laintiff.”
October 2014, the plaintiff was “passed over for a
promotion to [Lead Court Security Officer
(‘LCSO'].” Id. ¶ 20. She
complained to Epps, who told the plaintiff to “get used
to it because [the p]laintiff was perceived as a complainer
and Akal was going to protect the ‘old boys
network.'” Id. ¶ 21. In December
2014, the plaintiff “was selected as an LCSO, ”
id. ¶ 22, the first female to do so in nearly
20 years, id. ¶ 20. After her promotion, the
plaintiff alleged, “the discriminatory treatment”
she experienced from “her supervisors and some
subordinates intensified.” Id. ¶ 22.
time, because of the plaintiff's advocacy on behalf of
herself and female coworkers, she “was perceived as a
troublemaker by her supervisors.” Id. ¶
25. Eaves and Epps discouraged the plaintiff from assisting
other employees apply for open positions, implying that those
“employees would not be selected because they received
assistance from the [p]laintiff.” Id. By 2015,
“[the p]laintiff's job as LCSO was made
exponentially more difficult, ” id. ¶ 29,
because Akal management withheld “critical
information” that should have been shared during roll
call, id. ¶ 30. In addition, the plaintiff
“was . . . accused of improperly changing the schedules
of her subordinates, and [was] verbally counselled for doing
so.” Id. ¶ 34. Eaves and other
supervisors allegedly “undermined [the p]laintiff's
ability to manage her subordinates, ” who “were
allowed to use profane language towards [her] without facing
punishment, ” id. ¶ 35; see id.
¶ 44, and commit acts of insubordination, see
id. ¶ 43, without consequences. Eaves took no
action in response to the plaintiff's complaints. See
id. ¶¶ 42-44, 47. According to the plaintiff,
male employees who violated rules and security protocols
faced no disciplinary action. See id. ¶¶
45-46, 49, 51.
March 2015, Eaves asked the plaintiff to undertake payroll
duties by learning to complete time and attendance records.
Id. ¶ 52. She “informed . . . Eaves and
Epps that employees were inputting their overtime without a
valid code to justify overtime.” Id. ¶
54. Eaves and Epps “took no action against [these]
employees, ” the likely result of which was “the
District government being overcharged on the contract with
Akal.” Id. Further, Eaves took no action
“[a]t some point in 2015” when the plaintiff
“was not paid correctly for the hours she
worked.” Id. ¶ 55. His inaction
“prompt[ed the p]laintiff to file a grievance, ”
which the union declined to pursue. Id. ¶ 56.
“Thereafter, [the p]laintiff was locked out of the
payroll system, ” id. ¶ 57, and she
learned that Eaves was training a male LCSO to take over
payroll duties, id. ¶ 59. The plaintiff deemed
this action “retaliation for her complaining about her
pay and filing a grievance with her union.”
plaintiff arranged a meeting with Eaves and Epps “to
discuss the reassignment of the payroll duties” and
“insubordination issues involving her subordinates and
sexual harassment by Akal employees.” Id.
¶ 60. Eaves informed the plaintiff “that payroll
was LCSO Crawford's responsibility, effectively stripping
[her] of . . . duties related to payroll.” Id.
¶ 61. The plaintiff also asked Eaves and Epps “to
prohibit her coworkers from following her on camera and
making lewd comments through the intercom system.”
Id. ¶ 62. Epps was to “look into [the
p]laintiff's allegations, ” id., but the
plaintiff heard nothing “and the harassment continued,
” id. ¶ 63; see id. ¶¶
64-65, 68-69. The plaintiff also arranged a meeting on
February 10, 2016, “with Project Manager Lawrence Frost
to discuss her concerns, ” but Frost “abruptly
cancelled the meeting and never rescheduled it.”
Id. ¶ 71.
10, 2016, the plaintiff attended annual in-service training
conducted by LCSO Gloria Shelton. Id. ¶ 75.
During the training, the plaintiff received and responded to
a text message pertaining to her father's release from
the hospital. Id. “LCSO Shelton ordered [the
plaintiff] to turn off the phone.” Id. The
“[p]laintiff attempted to explain the situation to LCSO
Shelton, ” at which time LCSO Shelton left the
classroom, called in an emergency to which Eaves, Epps and
LCSO McLeod responded. Id. The plaintiff was
directed to the supervisor's office, id., where
she met with Project Manager Lawrence Frost, id.
¶ 76. Frost sent the plaintiff back to the classroom to
continue the training session; plaintiff took the final test
and was dismissed with the rest of the class. Id.
¶ 77. Epps called the plaintiff later that day and
informed her that she had been suspended and placed on
administrative leave. Id. ¶ 79. The plaintiff
appealed her suspension by union grievance. Id.
“[p]laintiff went to the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (‘EEOC') on June 10, 2016 to
file a discrimination charge [.]” Id. ¶
4; see id. ¶ 78. She completed an intake
questionnaire on that day, id. ¶¶ 4, 78,
and signed her EEOC Charge on June 23, 2016, id.
¶ 4. The plaintiff checked one box marked
“RETALIATION, ” and indicated that the alleged
act(s) of discrimination occurred between June 10, 2016 and
June 17, 2016. See Defs.' Mem., Ex. A at 1. The
narrative portion of the charge states:
I was employed with [Akal] since October 4, 2010, until I was
terminated on June 17, 2016. My job classification
was Lead Court Security Officer.
Between July 2015 to June 2016, Coworkers have been
harassing me about having lunch with my coworker who is also
female. They would make reference as to the nature of our
relationship. I have not disclosed my preference; I have
informed both District Supervisors about many incidents. They
have not taken any actions to resolve the situation.
On June 10, 2016, I was in a training class, led by
LSSO Gloria Shelton. I was checking and sending a text on my
phone due to urgent family matters. Gloria Shelton, the
instructor observe someone pass a phone and directed me to
“Janice[.]” I have not had any problems with any
other class until this one, I asked what problems are you
having? She then stated to put the phone away. I informed her
that I could not put the ...