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Campbell v. Nielsen

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

March 15, 2019

RICKY CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
v.
KIRSTEN M. NIELSEN, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          Robert J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Federal Defendant's Combined Motion to Partially Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 9), and the parties' associated briefs and exhibits, (Doc. Nos. 10- 12, 14).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Ricky W. Campbell (“Plaintiff”) is a former employee of the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”), which is a component agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS” or “Defendant”). Previously, Plaintiff was employed by TSA as a Lead Transportation Security Officer (“LTSO”) at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (“CLT”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that TSA violated Title VII by retaliating against him for engaging in prior equal employment opportunity activities[2] and by subjecting him to a hostile work environment. Plaintiff claims TSA retaliated against him by denying him overtime and not selecting him for certain supervisory positions for which he applied and was qualified. Plaintiff claims that six specific acts were retaliatory and/or subjected him to a hostile work environment:

1. On or about February 4, 2012, Complainant was not selected for the Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) position advertised via Vacancy Announcement (VA) CLT-12-444666.
2. On or about April 5, 2012, Complainant was not selected for the Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) position advertised via Vacancy Announcement (VA) CLT-12-469756.
3. On or about August 4, 2012, Complainant was not selected for the Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) position advertised via Vacancy Announcement (VA) CLT-12-516492.
4. Between August 21 and 23, 2012, Complainant was denied the opportunity to work overtime hours.
5. On or about October 24, 2012, Complainant was not selected for the Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (STSO) position advertised via Vacancy Announcement (VA) CLT-12-516491.
6. On February 22, 2013 a Transportation Security Manager stated that the scheduled overtime shift Complainant had worked the previous day was "illegal", and Complainant was not paid for the hours he had worked.

(Doc. No. 1: Compl. at 2).

         Prior to filing this action, Plaintiff filed an EEO complaint and litigated all six claims of retaliation in administrative proceedings before the EEOC. On October 5, 2012, Plaintiff initiated the administrative complaint process by contacting an EEO counselor. (Doc. No. 10-1: EEO Counselor's R. at 2). Plaintiff filed a formal administrative complaint with TSA on December 4, 2012. (Doc. No. 10-2: Individual Compl. of Employment Discrimination).[3] After an independent EEO investigator investigated Plaintiff's claims, the investigator issued a report of investigation (“ROI”). (Doc. No. 10-3: ROI). Plaintiff requested a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge.

         After the parties had the opportunity to conduct full discovery, the Administrative Judge granted TSA's motion for summary judgment on all six of Plaintiff's claims. (Doc. No. 10-4: Administrative Judge Decision and Order). The Administrative Judge found that Plaintiff could not establish a prima facie case of retaliation regarding Claims 1 through 4 because Plaintiff did not proffer “evidence that the relevant decision makers were aware of his prior discrimination complaints.” (Id. at 9-10). Regarding Claim 5, the Administrative Judge concluded that Plaintiff could not establish a prima facie case of reprisal “because the record evidence shows [Plaintiff] did not apply for an LTSO position”-the position for which Plaintiff alleges he was not selected.” (Id. at 10). And finally, with respect to Claim 6, the Administrative Judge determined that “a reasonable fact finder would not [find that Plaintiff could] establish the Agency retaliated against him” because Plaintiff had “not proffered probative evidence showing the Agency's legitimate non-retaliatory reasons for its actions [were] pretext” for retaliation. (Id. at 10-11).

         Plaintiff appealed the Administrative Judge's order to the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (“OFO”). On October 27, 2017, OFO denied the appeal and affirmed the Administrative Judge's order. (Doc. No. 10-5: OFO Decision and Order). On December 6, 2017, Plaintiff timely filed this action. (Doc. No. 1: Compl.). On March 2, 2018, Defendant filed a Combined Motion to Partially Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 10). Plaintiff filed an untimely Response on March 23, 2018-four days after the deadline. (Doc. No. 11).[4] Defendant filed a Reply on April 2, 2018. (Doc. No. 14). Having been fully briefed, the matter is now ripe for adjudication.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss Under ...


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