United States District Court, D. Maryland
FELICIA T. BOSTON, Plaintiff,
RAY MABUS, SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY Defendant.
Xinis United States District District Judge.
in this employment discrimination case is Defendant's
motion to dismiss the amended complaint, or in the
alternative, for summary judgment (ECF No. 28). The issues
are fully briefed and the parties were granted a hearing on
the matter, which took place on December 8, 2016. ECF No. 37.
This matter is ripe for determination. For the reasons stated
below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Felicia Boston's History of Employment
Felicia T. Boston (“Boston” or
“Plaintiff”) is an African-American female born
in 1958 and was employed as a civilian Information Technology
Specialist, with the pay plan and grade of IA-04 (GG-13), at
the Office of Naval Intelligence, Department of the Navy. ECF
No. 27 at 2; ECF No. 35-1 at 2-3. Plaintiff worked for the
Navy's Hopper Information Services Center (Hopper ISC)
from June 2008 to September 2011 as the Requirements Team
of Felicia T. Boston, ECF No. 35-1 at 2, 5. Plaintiff's
job duties included providing “input related to
requirements and business analysis functions to Statements of
Work, Requests for Proposals, and costs estimates.” ECF
No. 35-1 at 4. Plaintiff “reviewed and provided
comments to the Requirements Project Plans and approved the
list of requirement management deliverable contained in the
plan.” ECF No. 35-1 at 4.
February 2011, the Hopper ICS was reorganized, and Plaintiff
was placed in the Control Department where she held a new
title as the Governance Division Team Lead but continued to
perform many of the same responsibilities. ECF No. 35-1 at 2,
5. Plaintiff's duties included leading the team
responsible for requirements management and business
processes, defining Governance Division tasks, roles and
responsibilities, and assigning tasks to team members. ECF
No. 35-1 at 4. Plaintiff directed team members in defining
and analyzing requirements, documenting business processes,
and identifying opportunities for process improvement. ECF
No. 35-1 at 4. Plaintiff also evaluated contractor
performance and provided training and guidance to the team.
ECF No. 35-1 at 4.
13, 2011, a notice was sent to all eligible employees
concerning voluntary separation incentive pay
(“VSIP”) and voluntary early retirement authority
(“VERA”) for the Office of Naval Intelligence.
See July 13, 2011 Memorandum, ECF No. 35-2; ECF No.
35-1 at 8. The deadline for employees to complete a survey of
interest applying for VSIP and VERA was July 22, 2011. ECF
No. 35-2 at 2.
19, 2011, Plaintiff met with her immediate supervisor,
Captain David Porcaro (“Capt. Porcaro”), who
informed her that Defendant intended to disband the
Governance Division and eliminate her position. ECF No. 27 at
3. Although the Governance Division functions would continue,
the reorganization plan included other divisions absorbing
those tasks and responsibilities.
same meeting, Capt. Porcaro praised Plaintiff's fine work
and sought her input as to where she may prefer to work going
forward. ECF No. 35-14; 35-12 (Gnibus Declaration
“Capt. Porcaro asked Ms. Boston what she would like to
do after the division was gone.”). Porcaro offered many
suggestions as to where Plaintiff may be relocated, including
the Protection Department (computer security). Id.
The Protection Department offer involved shepherding security
packages through the accreditation process. ECF No. 35-1 at
5; ECF No. 35-5 at 7.
expressed her dissatisfaction with that offer. According to
Plaintiff, but only according to Plaintiff, the
Transformation position “would not be a position
comparable with my skills and abilities and would not be a
GG-13 position. It would be an administrative position. To
maintain a G-13 in Computer Security, you must have the
proper certifications, I do not.” ECF No. 35-1 at 5;
see also ECF No. 35-5 at 7. Procaro invited
Plaintiff to suggest alternatives. ECF No. 35-15.
Plaintiff told Porcaro she would think about it and get back
to him. That same day, on July 19, 2011, Plaintiff signed and
returned paperwork which conveyed her interest in taking
early retirement. ECF No. 35-3 at 2.
July 19, 2011 until her retirement in early September,
Plaintiff took substantial vacation time. ECF No. 35-5 at 5;
ECF No. 38. From July 20, 2011 to July 30, 2011, Plaintiff
took off from work completely. ECF No. 38. And cumulatively,
from July 20, 2011 to September 10, 2011, which consists of
38 work days, Plaintiff worked 41 hours of a total of 304
scheduled work hours, taking 87 hours of sick leave, 128
hours of annual leave, and 48 hours of compensatory time. ECF
No. 38. Plaintiff asserts that she did so because
she was not given any work by her managers, ECF No. 35-1 at
6, but this contention is belied by her taking ten days of
leave immediately upon learning of the reorganization.
on leave, her supervisor Jim Sigafoose offered her a position
as the Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System Career
Development Specialist for Hopper ISC, which she also turned
down. ECF No. 35-1 at 9. According to Sigafoose, he expressed
to Plaintiff that he was “impressed” with her
“performance, experience and expertise, and that her
talents and knowledge could definitely be used within the
Command.” ECF No. 35-9. Plaintiff contends now, as she
did then, that she was not qualified for the position but
offered no reasons as to why. ECF No. 35-5.
also inquired about another position known as a “Joint
Duty Assignment.” Id. She was provided with a
job description that, in her estimation, was “not an
Information Technology position. It was more in line with
Facilities Management duties for which I have no skills or
experience.” ECF No. 35-5 at 5.
a job outside of Hopper ISC and within Naval Intelligence,
Plaintiff also contacted Tim Sydnor, Chief Information
Officer of the Office of Naval Intelligence (“Naval
Intelligence”). ECF No. 35-1 at 7. Mr. Sydnor discussed
with Capt. Porcaro the potential move, but it could not be
accomplished because Hopper ISC did not intend to transfer
Plaintiff's “billet” or personnel position.
ECF No. 35-5 at 6; ECF No. 35-1 at 7.
September 6, 2011, Plaintiff signed a Standard Form 52,
Request for Personnel Action, for retirement special option.
ECF No. 35-7. In consideration for Plaintiff's early
retirement, Plaintiff received a lump sum payment of $25,
000. See Notification of Personnel Action, ECF No.
35-8; ECF No. 35-15 at 83. Plaintiff alleges that she
“could not continue to work in a hostile and abusive
environment, subject [herself] to poor evaluations . . . by
taking a position that I was not qualified, and accept a
position that did not support my present grade that could
result in a downgrade based on erosion of duties.” ECF
No. 35-1 at 9.
center of Plaintiff's complaint is that while she elected
early retirement, many other members of the Governance Team
moved to other divisions but continued to do the same work.
ECF No. 35-1 at 4; see generally ECF No. 35-9 at 5
(“The roles that the contractors on the Governance Team
performed are still being performed by contractors . . . .
Requirements management is conducted by other government
civilian employees.”). Specifically, Sigafoose moved
some of Plaintiff's responsibilities to the Contract and
Business Division which was headed by Kathy Vitkow, a younger
Caucasian female who was later promoted. ECF No. 35-5 at 3,
7. Captain Vicky Gnibus, a younger Caucasian female, was
moved to the Transition Division of the Hopper ISC and
continued to perform many of the same functions that
Plaintiff performed with the Governance Division. ECF No.
35-1 at 5. Don Billups, a younger African-American male
subcontractor of L3 Inc., was appointed the Requirements Team
Lead, which was part of Plaintiff's job and position
before the February 2011 Hopper ISC reorganization. ECF No.
35-1 at 4-5; ECF No. 35-5. Clauzell McIntyre, a younger
African-American male contractor of Eagle Ray Inc., began
performing Plaintiff Boston's duties as the Subject
Matter Expert. ECF No. 35-1 at 4-5; ECF No. 35-5 at 4. Mark
Branham and Rik Sneeuwjagt, Caucasian male contractors of
Eagle Ray Inc., were moved to another department doing the
same job they did with the Governance Department. ECF No.
35-1 at 5. Sigafoose also offered Nehemiah Douglas, a
younger male civilian employee, a job managing an
upcoming contract when Douglas announced he was leaving
Hopper ISC in August 2011. ECF No. 35-5 at 3. Despite her
qualifications, Plaintiff was not offered the position that
Douglas received. ECF No. 35-5 at 3.