United States District Court, D. Maryland
CELISA R. FORD, Plaintiff,
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION ACTING COMMISSIONER CAROLYN COLVIN, Defendant.
L. Hollander, United States District Judge.
Ford, plaintiff, a resident of Owings Mills, Maryland, filed
the above captioned case on June 23, 2016, seeking relief
from Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration, defendant, under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ford alleges ongoing discrimination
and “substantial” disparate treatment, claiming
that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
retaliated and harassed her by subjecting her to isolated
work conditions, reduced rests and lunchbreaks, inadequate
training, false accusations of sexual discrimination,
suspensions, and the denial of work positions. She seeks
compensatory damages and a job relocation. ECF 1 at 6-7.
has also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. ECF 2. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), a district
court has discretion to grant or deny an application for in
forma pauperis status. The in forma pauperis statute is
intended to ensure that indigent persons have equal access to
the judicial system by allowing them to proceed without
having to advance the fees and costs associated with
litigation. See Flint v. Haynes, 651 F.2d
970, 972 (4th Cir. 1981). An impoverished plaintiff does not
have to prove that he or she is “absolutely destitute
to enjoy the benefit of the statute.” Adkins v.
E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339
(1948). Rather, an affidavit to proceed in forma pauperis is
sufficient if it states that one cannot, because of his or
her poverty, afford to pay for costs of litigation and still
provide for the necessities of life. Id.
avows that she remains employed at the SSA, earning an annual
salary of approximately $75, 000.00, and owns a 2010 vehicle
with a fair market value of $17, 000.00. As her declared
income and assets do not outweigh her monthly expenses, she
has failed to show that she satisfies the indigency
requirements. Therefore, her motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis shall be denied, and she shall be required to
pay the full $400.00 filing fee within twenty-one (21) days
of the entry date of this Order. In addition, for reasons to
follow, plaintiff shall be required to supplement her
VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against
“any individual with respect to his compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). It
also prohibits employers from discriminating against an
employee because the employee has filed a grievance or
complaint regarding an employment practice that allegedly
violates Title VII’s antidiscrimination provision.
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a); see also
Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainbleau Corp., 786 F.3d 264, 281
(4th Cir. 2015) (en banc).
VII’s prohibitions apply to federal employees and to
private sector employees. Before filing suit under Title VII, an
employee must exhaust administrative remedies. See,
e.g., Jones v. Calvert Grp., Ltd., 551 F.3d
297, 300-01 (4th Cir. 2009); Laber v. Harvey, 438
F.3d 404, 415 (4th Cir. 2006) (en banc).
of administrative remedies is a “prerequisite to . . .
suit.” Figueroa v. Geithner, 711 F.Supp.2d
562, 569 (D. Md. 2010). As the Fourth Circuit said in
Jones, 551 F.3d at 300-01: “[A] failure by the
plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies concerning a
Title VII claim deprives the federal courts of subject matter
jurisdiction over the claim.” Notably, “[t]he
exhaustion requirement ensures that the employer is put on
notice of the alleged violations so that the matter can be
resolved out of court if possible.” Miles v. Dell,
Inc., 429 F.3d 480, 491 (4th Cir. 2005); see Balas
v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401, 406-07
(4th Cir. 2013).
“administrative remedies available for federal
employees are significantly broader than the administrative
remedies for employees in the private sector.”
Laber, 438 F.3d at 416. As a prerequisite to suit, a
federal employee must comply with the administrative
procedures set forth in 29 C.F.R. § 1614. Young v.
Nat’l Ctr. for Health Serv. Research, 828 F.2d
235, 237 (4th Cir. 1987) (citing 29 C.F.R. § 1613, which
contained federal employee grievance procedures before §
1614 was promulgated to replace § 1613).
employees “who believe they have been discriminated
against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, age, disability, or genetic information must consult
a Counselor prior to filing a complaint in order to try to
informally resolve the matter.” 29 C.F.R. §
1614.105(a). And, they “must initiate contact with a
Counselor within 45 days of the date of the matter alleged to
be discriminatory.” 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1).
See also Verrier v. Sebelius, CCB-09-402, 2010 WL
1222740, at *8 (D. Md. Mar. 23, 2010). During pre-complaint
processing a “Counselor shall not attempt in any way to
restrain the aggrieved person from filing a complaint.”
29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(g).
cases, counseling will result in a withdrawal of the claim or
a settlement agreement between the employee and employer.
See 29 C.F.R. § 1614.504(a); Campbell v.
Geren, 353 F. App’x 879, 882 (4th Cir. 2009).
However, if the issue is not resolved with the aid of the
counselor, the aggrieved person must file a formal complaint
with the agency. See 29 C.F.R. §§ 1614.106
to 1614.108. Once the agency takes “final action”
on the formal complaint, the aggrieved person may appeal the
decision to the EEOC or file suit. Id. §
1614.110. Federal employees must both exhaust their
administrative remedies and then timely file their law suit,
because “[f]ederal subject matter jurisdiction does not
exist unless both of these requirements are met.”
Ruiz v. Donahue, 569 Fed. App’x 207, 211-12
(5th Cir. 2014).
federal employee fails to comply with the administrative
procedures outlined above, she has failed to exhaust her
administrative remedies and is generally barred from filing
suit. See, e.g., Miles, 429 F.3d at 491;
Bryant v. Bell Atl. Md., Inc., 288 F.3d 124, 132
(4th Cir. 2002); Frank v. England, 313 F.Supp. 532,
536 (D. Md. 2004) (“Before an employee has standing to
pursue a claim against a federal employer under Title VII, he
must first exhaust the available administrative remedies by
proceeding before the agency charged with the
discrimination.”). Failure to comply generally mandates
dismissal. Lorenzo v. Rumsfeld, 456 F.Supp.2d 731,
734 (E.D. Va. 2006) (citing Zografov v. Veterans Admin.
Med. Ctr., 779 F.2d 967, 970 (4th Cir. 1985)).
statement of facts, plaintiff claims that she filed an
“EEO sexual discrimination case against a
supervisor” on an unspecified date. ECF 1 at 6. At no
point, however, does she discuss whether she has completed
the exhaustion process as to the claims raised herein. In
order to demonstrate that plaintiff has exhausted her
administrative remedies, Ford shall be granted an additional
twenty-one (21) days to supplement her Complaint. Plaintiff
shall file all documents related to an administrative agency
decision, including, but not limited to, a “Right to
Sue” letter received from the agency. Ford is cautioned
that her failure to file a timely and appropriate supplement
and the full filing fee will result in the dismissal of suit,
without prejudice, without further notice from this Court.