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Bauer v. Holder

January 4, 2013


Name of Assigned Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge



Before the Court are Defendant's motions to transfer [13], dismiss [17], and stay discovery [26]. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion to transfer [13] is granted. The Clerk is directed to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Defendant's motions to dismiss [17] and to stay discovery [26] will remain pending for disposition in the transferee court.

O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.

I. Background

According to his complaint, Plaintiff joined the FBI's New Agent Training Program (NATP) in Quantico, Virginia in March 2009. Soon after enrolling in the NATP, Plaintiff signed a document titled "Rules, Regulations, and Requirements at the FBI Academy for New Agent Trainees" (Requirements Document). See compl., ex. D. According to the Requirements Document

The NATP is designed to ensure that, upon graduation, [a New Agent Trainee has] attained the necessary proficiencies in specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to effectively perform the duties of an FBI [Special Agent]. The NATP is also designed to assess each [New Agent Trainee's] suitability for the [Special Agent] position as measured by the [New Agent Trainee's] level of conscientiousness, cooperativeness, emotional maturity, initiative, integrity and judgment. [* * *]

Various academic tests and firearms qualifications administered during the NATP will provide a quantitative measure of [the New Agent Trainee's] knowledge, skills, abilities, and overall proficiency level. Suitability standards are measured concurrent with proficiency criteria in all areas of training.

Alongside "proficiency" and "suitability" requirements, New Agent Trainees "must pass an Academy administered physical fitness test (PFT) in order to graduate."

The PFT is a key component of the [Physical Training] program. It tests the strength endurance and ability of [New Agent Trainees] to perform individually in four events in the following sequence: sit-ups, 300-meter sprint, pushups, and a 1.5-mile run. * * * The minimum passing score on the PFT is twelve (12) cumulative points with at least one (1) point achieved in each of the first (4) events.

Plaintiff alleges that he satisfied all NATP requirements other than the PFT. Plaintiff attempted the PFT five times but was never able to do enough pushups to score a point. As a male trainee, Plaintiff was required to do 30 pushups, but his best effort was 29. See compl. ¶¶ 1, 7, 20, 26. Female trainees could score a point by completing 14 pushups.

Because Plaintiff could not pass the fitness test, he resigned from the NATP to avoid dismissal. Following his resignation, the FBI offered Plaintiff a position as an Intelligence Analyst in the Chicago Division. He accepted the job and moved to Chicago. In this lawsuit, Plaintiff claims that his inability to pass the NATP was the result of discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the different minimum cutoffs for male and female trainees on the pushup component of the PFT were "arbitrarily selected" and "not properly validated" and do "not measure in any way the minimum physical ability required to do the job of Special Agent." The standards, he claims, allow "less overall physically fit females to become special agents." The 30-pushup minimum for males as compared to the 14-pushup minimum for females "placed an undue burden of compliance on males." And, finally, Defendant treated at least one "similarly situated" female trainee differently than Plaintiff by giving her an additional attempt to pass the fitness test. See compl. ¶ 46(a)-(g).

Under the venue provision of Title VII, Plaintiff has sued Defendant in a proper venue - the Northern District of Illinois is a "judicial district in which [Plaintiff] would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Defendant has moved to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia, also a proper venue under Title VII, as a "judicial district in the State in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed" as well as "the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Though both venues are proper, Defendant argues that the Eastern District of Virginia is more appropriate, because that is where Plaintiff took the PFTs and that is where the PFT was designed and validated. Since filing its motion to transfer, Defendant has also moved to dismiss [17] and to stay discovery [26].

Because the Court agrees with Defendant that the Eastern District of Virginia is a more appropriate venue for Plaintiff's suit, the Court limits its discussion to Defendant's motion to transfer. Defendant's motions to dismiss and to stay ...

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