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Tahir v. Sessions

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

May 2, 2017

RAYMOND J. TAHIR, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          JAMES C. DEVER III Chief United States District Judge

         On August 31, 2016, Raymond J. Tahir ("Tahir" or "plaintiff') a former supervisory investigative specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") filed a Title VII national origin discrimination action against defendant. See [D.E. 1]. On January 5, 2017, defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted [D.E. 12] and filed a memorandum in support [D.E. 13]. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). On January 26, 2017, Tahir responded in opposition [D.E. 14]. As explained below, the court grants the motion to dismiss and dismisses the complaint without prejudice.

         I.

         On October 6, 1986, Tahir began working for the FBI in New York as a clerk in the NCIC Editorial Staff Unit of Technical Services. Compl. [D.E. 1] ¶¶ 6-7. Tahir is an American citizen of Turkish decent and identifies as an Arab American. Id. ¶¶ 5, 9. From July 1987 until July 1996, Tahir worked in the New York Division's Special Surveillance Group ("SSG"). Id. ¶¶ 7-9.

         In July 1996, the FBI promoted Tahir to Supervisory Investigative Specialist and transferred him to Dallas, Texas. See Id. ¶ 10. The FBI issued Tahir a government-issued credit card for incidental work expenses. Id. ¶ 11. Tahir sometimes used the credit card for "non-work purposes and paid off the statements monthly." Id.

         In 2000, the FBI disciplined Tahir and several other employees in his division for improperly using their government-issued credit cards. Id. ¶ 12. Tahir admitted to using the card for personal purposes and received a three-day suspension. Id. "This was the only time prior to his termination at issue in this case that... Tahir was disciplined." Id. In June 2005, the FBI transferred Tahir to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he served as a Mobile Surveillance Team Leader. Id. ¶ 13. In 2006, the FBI promoted Tahir to Supervisory Investigatory Team Leader. Id. Starting in 2007, Tahir began to experience financial stress. Id. ¶ 14. From 2007 through 2011, Tahir used his government-issued credit card to make "roughly 200" personal purchases. Id. ¶ 14.

         In July 2010, the FBI transferred Tahir to Raleigh, North Carolina so that Tahir could be closer to bis children. See id ¶ 15. Tahir stepped down in position to Supervisory Team Leader. Id. On August 30, 2011, Assistant Special Agent in Charge ("AS AC") James E. Jewell learned that Tahir's government-issued credit card had a balance of $9, 294.87. Id. ¶ 18. An audit revealed 233 purchases for personal use over a four-year period. Id. ¶ 19. Three of the purchases were in Dearborn, Michigan for $1, 250.99, and Tahir denies making those purchases. Id. ¶ 19.

         On September 1, 2011, Tahir met with ASAC Jewell, Tahir's de facto supervisor Jennifer McMillan, and Acting Supervisory Special Agent Robert Creager to discuss the purchases. See id ¶¶ 16, 20. On September 14, 2011, the FBI formally notified Tahir that it had started an internal investigation of Tahir for Misuse of a Government Charge Card-Personal Use and Lack of Candor/Lying-No Oath. See Id. ¶ 21.

         On November 9, 2011, FBI internal investigators (including SSA Chaney) presented Tahir with his credit card statements. See Id. ¶ 22. Tahir noticed the three purchases in Dearborn, Michigan and denied ever being in Dearborn, Michigan or making those three purchases. See Id. SSA Chaney responded that he had heard from several people in the office that Tahir was from Dearborn, Michigan. See Id. According to Tahir, Dearborn, Michigan is significant to the FBI because "it is known as a hotbed of terrorist activity in the United States. By linking ... Tahir to Dearborn, he was marked as a threat to the integrity of the [FBI]." Id. ¶ 23.

         On December 8, 2011, the FBI expanded its investigation to include potential unauthorized gasoline purchases. See Id. ¶ 24. On January 9, 2012, the FBI informally notified Tahir that he was charged with Misuse of a Government Charge Card (Theft) Gasoline or Automated-Related Expenses due to the fuel purchases. Id. ¶¶ 24, 31. The FBI questioned Tahir about the fuel purchases, and he justified the vast majority of them based on his cases. Id. ¶ 25. The FBI never formally notified Tahir that he was charged with Misuse of a Government Charge Card (Theft) Gasoline or Automated-Related Expenses. Id.

         At the end of the internal investigation, the FBI recommended terminating Tahir's employement and submitted findings to the FBI's Disciplinary Review Board. Id. ¶ 26. On February 23, 2012, the FBI revoked Tahir's security clearance, and he was suspended from work. W.

         On March 1, 2012, Tahir requested his day ledgers. Id. ¶ 27. The FBI provided several day ledgers, but not those for dates relevant to the alleged fuel theft. See id Later, the FBI advised Tahir that the missing day ledgers had been shredded. Id. According to Tahir, the FBI shredded those documents to ensure Tahir's employment termination by depriving him of the ability to defend against the alleged fuel theft. Id. ¶¶ 27-28. "Upon information and belief, other non-white employees of various national origins were also being targeted for increased discipline by Mrs. McMillan at this time." Id. ¶29.

         On May 11, 2012, the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR") Adjudication Unit held an oral appeal hearing at which Tahir and his representatives appeared. Id. ¶ 30. At the hearing's outset, Assistant Director Candace Will asked, " What kind of name is Tahir?" Id. Tahir responded, "Turkish. My father is Turkish." Id. Will then asked if Tahir spoke the language. Id. Tahir responded, "No." Id The FBI's OPR Adjudication Unit upheld Tahir's dismissal, finding termination appropriate for Lack of Candor/Lying-No Oath, Misuse of a Government Charge Card-Personal Use, and Misuse of a Government Charge Card (Theft) Gasoline or Automated-Related Expenses. Id. ¶31.

         On May 14, 2012, the FBI notified Tahir that OPR's Adjudication Unit upheld his dismissal. Id. ¶ 32. Tahir appealed to the FBI's Human Resources Disciplinary Review Board ("HRDRB"). Id. On January 9, 2013, HRDRB staff sent a memorandum to the HRDRB recommending affirming Tahir's dismissal. Id. ¶ 33. The memorandum noted that the standard penalty for Lack of Candor/Lying-No Oath and for Misuse of a Government Charge Card-Personal Use was, respectively, a seven-day suspension. Id. The memorandum also stated ...


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