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Venue Change for FBI Trainee’s Disability Claim

A former Army Ranger who lost his left hand in a grenade detonation and uses a prosthetic left hand, who filed a disability discrimination claim based on his disqualification as a new agent trainee for the FBI, has his suit transferred to the Alexandria U.S. District Court.

Plaintiff brings his claims under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 791. Although the complaint asserts jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391, the proper venue for litigating a Rehabilitation Act claim is determined by the special venue provisions of Title VII. Under these special venue provisions, a plaintiff may bring an action 1) in any judicial district in the state in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed; 2) in the judicial district in which the employment records relevant to such practice are maintained and administered; or 3) in the judicial district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for the alleged unlawful employment practice. The court agrees with defendant that this jurisdiction is not the proper venue for this action.

First, the District of Columbia is not a proper venue as the location in which the unlawful employment practice is alleged to have been committed. Even assuming personnel at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., were involved in the decision-making process regarding his situation, this does not mean HQ personnel made the final decision about plaintiff’s ability to perform essential functions, which is at the core of the official actions challenged in this suit. The court finds that Quantico, Virginia, is the location where plaintiff alleged that discriminatory employment practices occurred. Plaintiff’s complaint focuses on the conduct by FBI instructors and other personnel while he was at Quantico working as a new agent trainee and his performance assessments were conducted there.

Further, a declaration by a records chief establishes that the master set of employment records is maintained in Virginia. And any guess at where the aggrieved person would have worked as a special agent following his training would be merely speculative before he was assigned a placement.

Since venue properly belongs in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the alleged incidents occurred and where plaintiff’s records are held, plaintiff may not invoke the residual provision to establish venue in the District of Columbia.

The court denies the motion to dismiss for improper venue and grants the motion to transfer the case.

Slaby v. Holder (Howell, D.C.D.C.) No. 12-01160 (No. 1:12cv01235 USDC-ED) Nov. 4, 2012; USDC for District of Columbia. VLW 012-3-538, 11 pp.

VLW 012-3-538

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