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Good v. Fairfax County

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

December 19, 2014

ANN GOOD, Plaintiff,
FAIRFAX COUNTY, et al., Defendants.


ANDREW W. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

This employment discrimination action is before the Court on Defendant Fairfax County's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Dkt. 13.] The motion has been fully briefed and is now before the Court.

I. Background[1]

Plaintiff Ann Good ("Plaintiff") was hired by the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office ("the Sheriff's Office") as a Deputy Sheriff in 1993. (Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 8.) In 2008, Plaintiff began working as a Basic Instructor at the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy ("the CJA"), which trains new police recruits for, inter alia, the Fairfax County Police Department ("FCPD") and the Sheriff's Office.[2] ( Id. at ¶ 9.) The CJA trains new recruits to obtain their Law Enforcement Certification, and applicable to Sherriff's Office recruits, their Civil Enforcement Certification and Court Security and Jailer Certifications. ( Id. at ¶ 12.)

The CJA Basic Recruit School is under the joint command of FCPD, the Sheriff's Office, and the towns of Vienna and Herndon. (Compl. ¶ 10.) As a Basic Instructor, Plaintiff was under the Command of both FCPD and the Sheriff's Office, but reported to the FCPD on a daily basis. ( Id. at ¶¶ 10, 13.) The FCPD Command authorized Plaintiff's leave and overtime, while the Sheriff's Office Command supervised Plaintiff's time and attendance. ( Id. at ¶ 10.) The FCPD Command Supervisors completed Plaintiff's evaluation, with an addendum added by the Sheriff's Office Command Supervisors. (Id.)

In 2009, FCPD Officer James Summers ("Summers") started stalking and harassing Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 15.) In April of 2013, a jury convicted Summers of forcibly sodomizing Plaintiff in the fall of 2009. (Id.) Summers was sentenced to seven years of incarceration with two years suspended. (Id.)

Contemporaneously in 2009, Plaintiff was sexually harassed at work by her immediate supervisor, FCPD Sergeant Eric Bridge ("Bridge"), who inappropriately touched Plaintiff and told her that she "owed him" because of his continued support. (Compl. ¶¶ 15-17.) Plaintiff complained about Bridge's actions and sought relief from CJA Supervisors in both FCPD and the Sheriff's Office. ( Id. at ¶ 18.) Between 2010 and 2012, Plaintiff specifically complained to Sheriff's Office Captain Ramarr Prudhum, who ignored Plaintiff's claims and pledged support for Bridge. (Id.)

After filing a complaint with the Sheriff's Office Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer Lieutenant Jarmal Perkins, an internal investigation was initiated and Bridge was eventually reassigned from the CJA. (Compl. ¶ 19.) Prior to leaving the CJA, FCPD Sergeant Bridge publicly addressed colleagues in the conference room, exposing Plaintiff's confidential allegations and warning others, "first she went after Summers, then she went after me, you could be next." ( Id. at ¶ 20.) Because Plaintiff's complaints were now public, her colleagues ostracized her, refused to speak to her, and excluded her from work activities. ( Id. at ¶ 21.) Even though FCPD and Sheriff's Office Supervisors observed this behavior, nothing was done to stop it. ( Id. at ¶ 22.)

In early 2013, FCPD and Sheriff's Office Supervisors even perpetuated Plaintiff's shaming within the CJA. (Compl. ¶¶ 23-24.) Specifically, FCPD Lieutenant Mike Shamblin told Plaintiff she "was like a person on [the television show] Survivor who had no allies, " and Sheriff's Office Captain Ramarr Prudham told Plaintiff's colleague Sheriff's Office Sergeant Amy Gaisor to not speak to Plaintiff because "she would only get her in trouble." (Id.) Similar threats and intimidation continued throughout 2013, which eventually culminated in the reassignment of Plaintiff's work duties. ( Id. at ¶ 25.)

First, in June of 2013, FCPD Sergeant Pete Massaro ("Massaro") removed Plaintiff as Lead Physical Trainer in retaliation for her sexual harassment complaint against FCPD Sergeant Bridge. (Compl. ¶ 26.) One month later, in July of 2013, FCPD Sergeant Massaro told Plaintiff that everyone in FCPD knew about her complaint against Bridge because FCPD Captain David Smith made her Internal Affairs' file available for viewing. ( Id. at ¶ 27.) Second, in August of 2013, FCPD and Sheriff's Office Supervisors wanted to remove Plaintiff from the CJA's Basic Staff and to justify such a removal, Sheriff's Office Captain Ramarr Prudham ordered FCPD Sergeant Pete Massaro to lower Plaintiff's performance evaluation "in the area of working cooperatively with others." ( Id. at ¶¶ 28-29.) Around this time, during Plaintiff's participation in an excessive force training exercise, Supervisors allowed trainees to brutalize Plaintiff beyond the point of excessive force. ( Id. at ¶ 31.) Third, on September 27, 2013, Plaintiff was removed from her Basic Instructor position at the CJA, where she had supervisory responsibilities over training recruits, and was involuntarily reassigned first to the Law Enforcement Training Unit, where she had no duties, and ultimately to the Civil Enforcement Unit, where she had some work duties, but no supervisory authority. ( Id. at ¶ 32.)

Plaintiff filed charges of sex-based discrimination and retaliation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Fairfax County on January 24, 2014, and against the Sheriff's Office on February 5, 2014. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Separate right-to-sue notices were issued on August 26, 2014, which was 90 days before the filing of this Complaint on October 15, 2014. (Id.) Plaintiff originally brought four counts in the Complaint: Count One, Sex-Based Discrimination against the Sheriff's Office; Count Two, Retaliation against the Sheriff's Office; Count Three, Sex-Based Discrimination against FCPD; and Count Four, Retaliation against FCPD. ( Id. at 10-11.) However, on Plaintiff's Motion, the Court voluntarily dismissed Counts One and Three, leaving only claims of retaliation against the Sheriff's Office and FCPD.[3] (See Joint Mot. to Voluntarily Dismiss Counts I and III [Dkt. 22]; see also Order [Dkt. 24].)

Defendant Fairfax County ("Fairfax County") now moves to dismiss Count Four, the retaliation claim. [Dkt. 13.] The motion is fully briefed and the Court heard argument of counsel on December 18, 2014. Thus, the motion is ripe for disposition.

II. Standard of Review

"The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, [it] does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Butler v. United States , 702 F.3d 749, 752 (4th Cir. 2012) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A court reviewing a complaint on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must accept well-pleaded allegations as true, and must construe all allegations in favor of the plaintiff. See Randall v. United States , 30 F.3d 518, 522 (4th Cir. 1994). ...

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