United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jason Brian Braun, proceeding pro se, is a former
employee of the Department of the Interior
(“DOI”) who was based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
After his employment ended in 2010, Braun brought
administrative claims that he had been subject to
employment-related misconduct, including discrimination based
on disability. Those claims were heard by an administrative
judge, who granted summary judgment for the agency. DOI
adopted the administrative judge's decision. Braun
subsequently appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (the “EEOC”), which affirmed the
dismissal. Braun has brought suit against DOI, the Secretary
of the Interior,  and the EEOC, alleging misconduct in his
employment and the post-employment administrative
have moved to dismiss Braun's claims against the EEOC for
failure to state a claim. They also ask the Court either to
dismiss the claims against DOI and the Secretary of the
Interior for improper venue, or to transfer them to the
District of New Mexico. See ECF No. 17. For reasons
set forth below, the motion will be granted. Braun's
claims against the EEOC will be dismissed with prejudice. In
addition, the Court agrees that this District is not a proper
venue for Braun's remaining claims against DOI and the
Secretary of the Interior. Therefore, the case will be
transferred to the District of New Mexico.
Complaint appears to assert claims against DOI and the
Secretary of the Interior under various federal statutes and
regulations, including: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 (“Title VII”); the Rehabilitation Act of
1973 (“Rehabilitation Act”), and specifically 29
U.S.C. § 791; the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
(“CSRA”), specifically 5 U.S.C. §§
2301(b) and 2302; 5 U.S.C. § 2108; 5 U.S.C. §
3330; 5 U.S.C. § 7203; the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990; criminal statutes dealing with
false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001), perjury (18 U.S.C.
§ 1621), and improper disclosure of confidential
information (18 U.S.C. § 1905); two executive orders,
Executive Order 12, 674 and Executive Order 13, 518; and 5
C.F.R. § 2635.100(11) and (13). See ECF No. 1
(“Compl.”) at 3.
also asserts claims against the EEOC for violations of its
procedures (namely, EEOC Management Directive 110, the EEOC
Judges' Handbook, and 29 C.F.R. § 1614.109(a) and
(g)); violations of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
7(b)(1)(A)-(C); and for criminally obstructing an agency
proceeding, 18 U.S.C. § 1505. See Compl. at 3.
alleges that he is a veteran with disabilities arising from
his military service. See Id. at 4-5. In December
2009, DOI posted a job announcement for an Audiovisual
Specialist in Albuquerque. Id. at 4. Braun claims
that the job posting was fraudulent because it inaccurately
described the position. Id. According to Braun, once
he arrived at his new job, he was improperly trained in his
unexpected new duties and “set up” to fail.
Id. at 5. He further alleges that DOI made no effort
to accommodate his disabilities and that he was subjected to
harassment and a hostile work environment, which included
being berated in front of other employees. See Id.
at 4-6. He alleges he was terminated on November 23, 2010.
Id. at 6.
his employment ended, Braun sought administrative relief for
this alleged misconduct. Braun's claims were heard by an
administrative judge, who granted summary judgment in favor
of DOI on April 14, 2014. See Transfer Mot. at 77.
On May 5, 2014, DOI adopted the administrative judge's
decision and determined that no discrimination had occurred.
See Id. at 70. Braun subsequently appealed to the
EEOC, which affirmed the DOI's order on July 13, 2016.
See Id. at 21-25. The EEOC denied reconsideration on
September 20, 2016. See Id. at 9-11.
was dissatisfied with the EEOC's handling of the case,
and wrote several letters expressing his dissatisfaction to
representatives in Congress. See Id. at 27-55. In
particular, Braun complained that the administrative judge
had failed to rule on his motions, tampered with evidence,
and obstructed justice. See, e.g., id. at
48. At one point, Braun reported his concerns to Federal
Bureau of Investigation, which, according to Braun, failed to
take them seriously. See Id. at 51-52. Braun makes
similar allegations in the Complaint, including that the
administrative judge and the EEOC ignored his arguments,
improperly limited his discovery requests, obstructed and
slow-walked his case, and “gave the unwavering
impression to the Plaintiff that they were protecting the
U.S. Department of the Interior by its [sic] lack of action,
lack of ethics and attitude.” Compl. at 7-8.
have moved to dismiss the claims against the EEOC for failure
to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). See ECF No. 17. Defendants also argue that
venue is improper with respect to the remaining claims
against DOI and the Secretary of the Interior, and that these
claims should either be dismissed or transferred to the
District of New Mexico pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). See
ECF No. 17. Defendants have submitted a declaration from a
DOI employee stating that Braun was employed in New Mexico
and that his Official Personnel Folder was
“located” in Herndon, Virginia, until 2011, when
it was sent to the National Archives in Valmeyer, Illinois.
See ECF No. 17-1 (“Carruthers Decl.”).
Court also ordered the parties to make a supplemental
submission on whether venue would be proper in the Eastern
District of Virginia. In their submission, Defendants argue
that venue cannot lie in the Eastern District of Virginia.
They further assert that at least two important witnesses are
located in the District of New Mexico, and urge the Court to
transfer the action there. See ECF No. 37 at 1-2.
Braun has filed two responses to the Court's order. In
the first, Braun states that his preference is to continue
litigating the case in this Court, but that the Eastern
District of Virginia would also be a convenient venue for
him. See ECF No. 38 at 4-6. In the second, Braun
provides additional reasons why the Eastern District of
Virginia would be a proper forum. ECF No. 42. Specifically,
Braun argues that records relating to his employment were
located in Virginia when he brought his administrative
claims, which, he asserts, means that venue is proper there
under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). See ECF No. 42
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) “tests whether a
plaintiff has properly stated a claim.” BEG Invs.,
LLC v. Alberti, 85 F.Supp.3d 13, 24 (D.D.C. 2015).
“A court considering such a motion presumes that the
complaint's factual allegations are true and construes
them liberally in the plaintiff's favor.”
Id. Nonetheless, the complaint must set forth enough
facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “[A]lthough a
pro se complaint ‘must be construed liberally, the
complaint must still present a claim on which the Court can
grant relief.'” Untalasco v. Lockheed Martin
Corp., 249 F.Supp.3d 318, 322 (D.D.C. 2017) (quoting
Budik v. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Med. Ctr., 937
F.Supp.2d 5, 11 (D.D.C. 2013)).
venue is improper, the court must either dismiss the action
or, “if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such
case to any district . . . in which it could have been
brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). While
“‘the defendant must present facts that will
defeat the plaintiff's assertion of venue'” to
prevail on a Rule 12(b)(3) motion, “the burden remains
on the plaintiff to establish that venue is proper.”
Slaby v. Holder, 901 F.Supp.2d 129, 132 (D.D.C.
2012) (quoting Wilson v. Obama, 770 F.Supp.2d 188,
190 (D.D.C. 2011)). Even though pro se
plaintiffs' pleadings must be liberally construed, the
Court “cannot relieve [them] of this burden merely
because they are acting without the benefit of
counsel.” King v. Caliber Home Loans, Inc.,
210 F.Supp.3d 130, 134 (D.D.C. 2016). “In reviewing
such a motion, the Court ‘accepts the plaintiff's
well-pled factual allegations regarding venue as true, draws
all reasonable inferences from those allegations in the
plaintiff's favor and resolves any factual conflicts in
the plaintiff's favor.'” Slaby, 901
F.Supp.2d at 132 (quoting Wilson, 770 F.Supp.2d at
190). “The ...