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McAdory v. Vail Technologies

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

May 4, 2017



          Leonie M. Brinkema United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff pro se Adrienne L. McAdory ("plaintiff' or "McAdory") has filed a complaint alleging that she was the victim of pregnancy discriminationin violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., inflicted by the defendant VAIL Technologies ("defendant" or "VAIL"), whom she claims was a joint employer. She seeks over $8, 000, 000.00 in damages. Before the Court is the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, in which it argues that VAIL was not plaintiffs employer for Title VII purposes; that plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination and has failed to show that VAIL's legitimate reasons for refusing to renew the contract with her company were pretextual; and that plaintiff cannot prove that she suffered any damages from VAIL's conduct. For the reasons that follow, defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         McAdory founded ALM Group, Inc. ("ALM Group") in 2004, Def. SUMF, [Dkt. 66] at ¶ 1, and has remained its President, Chief Executive Officer, and sole employee to the present. Def. Ex. 1, [Dkt. 66-1] at 26:25-27:9. Since 2004, ALM Group has entered into at least 11 subcontracts with various entities to provide consulting services. Def. SUMF ¶ 77. VAIL is a small firm with its principal place of business in Arlington, Virginia, engaged in "providing business systems architecture, systems engineering, software development, and acquisition management services to the [U.S.] Government and other clients." Id. at ¶ 2.

         In 2012, VAIL and ALM Group worked together on a proposal for a government contract, under which VAIL would have been the prime contractor and ALM Group would have been a subcontractor; however, they were not selected. Def. SUMF ¶ 3. VAIL and McAdory had no further interaction until 2014.

         On January 25, 2013, VAIL was awarded "Contract D0029" "to perform specialized analysis and business systems architecture support for the United States Army Office of Business Transformation" ("OBT"). Def. SUMF ¶ 4. Contract D0029 is an umbrella contract-also known as an indefinite duration, indefinite quantity ("IDIQ") contract-under which the government issues discrete work orders. Each of these work orders is essentially a separate contract. One of those work orders was "Contract D0029-202." Id. at ¶ 10. Although neither party has submitted Contract D0029-202, both have referred to a document entitled "Performance Work Statement for Business Systems Architecture Additional Work Effort" ("PWS") prepared by OBT on May 21, 2014, to define the scope of the project. See Def. Ex. 9, [Dkt. 66-9]; PL Ex. 1, [Dkt. 76-1] at 17.

         The PWS states that the objective of the project was to focus on "rationalizing and integrating the Army's business system portfolio." Def. Ex. 9, [Dkt. 66-9] at 5. To that end, the project required

technical expertise to support Government efforts in the following general areas of the Army's Business Architecture: strategic planning, business alignment, IT requirements and acquisition reform efforts; Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), software implementation and convergence planning; business architecture development, [end-to-end] business process modeling and improvement and business investment governance; technical services to evaluate emerging technologies that could accelerate business transformation; liaison support with Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Staff, Military Services and Army Commands; and executing transformation initiatives and activities implementing business changes that will occur.

Id. at 4-5.

         On May 27, 2014, VAIL and ALM Group entered into a "Sub-Contract Agreement & VAIL Work Order" ("Subcontract") under which ALM Group was hired to "perform as a member of VAIL's team providing Enterprise Architecture consulting support to" the OBT. Def. Ex. 8, [Dkt. 66-8] at 1. The Subcontract provided that McAdory would be "deemed key personnel and [would] perform all support from ALM [Group], and [could] only be replaced with personnel that meet qualification requirements of the position and are approved by VAIL." Id. The Subcontract included a paragraph titled "ALM's Relationship to VAIL, " which stated:

ALM's relationship to VAIL is that of a sub contractor. Payments to ALM will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service through ALM's EIN. VAIL will provide ALM a 1099 tax form at the end of VAIL's tax year. ALM shall be responsible exclusively for all reports and obligations relating to tax withholding and similar matters.

Id. The Subcontract covered "a period of performance from May 28, 2014 through May 27, 2015, " which was the same time period that VAIL would be performing on the D0029-202 work order. Id; Def. SUMF ¶ 10. Both the work order and Subcontract were ultimately extended by six days, through June 2, 2015. Def. SUMF ¶ 11. ALM Group's billing under the Subcontract was on a "time and materiel basis" at an hourly rate of $100.00, capped at 1920 hours, or $192, 000.00. Def. Ex. 8, [Dkt. 66-8] at 1.

         Along with ALM Group, four full-time VAIL employees were assigned to work on Contract D0029-202. Def. SUMF ¶ 16; PI. SUMF ¶ 16. It is undisputed that "VAIL contracted with ALM Group because [McAdory] had a college degree, an active [secret] clearance, a Project Management Professional ('PMP') certification, and years of experience and expertise working with the OBT and its predecessors." Def. SUMF ¶ 18; PL SUMF ¶ 18. By contrast, none of the four VAIL employees had experience working with OBT or its sphere of operations. Id.

         Plaintiff performed her work under the Subcontract at the government's Polk Building and the Pentagon, and never reported for duty at VAIL's premises. Def. SUMF ¶ 27; PL SUMF ¶ 27. Her hours were set by the government, not by VAIL. Def. SUMF ¶ 40; PL SUMF ¶ 40. Although plaintiff has alleged that she had to request leave from a VAIL supervisor, at her deposition she admitted that she had no evidence to support that allegation beyond four emails that simply show her notifying the VAIL employee in question that she would be out of the office. Def. Ex. 1, [Dkt. 66-1] at 128:11-132:3. Those emails do not purport to request leave, and there is no evidence in the record that anyone from VAIL either approved or denied the leave referenced in the emails. Id.

         In accordance with the terms of the Subcontract, VAIL provided ALM Group with a 1099 tax form, and did not provide plaintiff with a W-2.[1] Def. SUMF ¶ 43; PL SUMF ¶ 43. "VAIL did not withhold federal, state, and social security taxes" for either McAdory or ALM Group. Id. at¶42. Between 2014 and 2015, VAIL paid ALM Group a total of $190, 100.00. Id. at ¶¶ 43-44. VAIL never provided McAdory with any benefits, as it did for its W-2 employees, and did not maintain any payroll, insurance, or tax records for her. Id. at ¶¶ 45-46.

         VAIL did provide plaintiff with a laptop and a VAIL email account. Def. SUMF ¶¶ 34-35. Although two other 1099 subcontractors were not provided with a laptop (and one was not provided an email account), those subcontractors worked on a different project that did not have the same technical requirements. Id. VAIL also "mistakenly" created business cards for plaintiff because a member of its administrative staff "had not yet been informed" that plaintiff was merely a subcontractor. Id. at ¶ 47. Although plaintiff attended the same training program as the four VAIL employees, VAIL did not pay for her training as it did for the W-2 employees. See id at ¶ 37; PL SUMF ¶ 37.

         While working on Contract D0029-202, plaintiff became pregnant. She first informed VAIL of her pregnancy on May 8, 2015. Def. SUMF ¶ 63. The next day, she sent an email explaining that she "had worked out arrangements with her family and was on a waiting list for a daycare[.]" Id. Plaintiff ...

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