WASHINGTON v. WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Judge Carl J. Nichols on March 31, 2021. (lccjn2)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-01396 (CJN)
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA
Tiffany Washington worked as a police officer for the Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit Authority from September 24, 2001, until her termination on April 5, 2019. Compl. ¶ 11,
ECF No. 1. She was diagnosed with a disability that affects her “sleep, cognitive abilities,
concentration, anxiety, work efficiency, and focus.”
Id. ¶ 204.
Between 2016 and 2019,
Washington submitted at least three EEO complaints for alleged harassment, discrimination, and
retaliation. Id. ¶¶ 15–19. On May 26, 2020, she filed this action against WMATA, alleging sexual
harassment, gender discrimination, racial discrimination, retaliation, and disability discrimination
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII),
and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. See generally Compl. Pending before the Court is WMATA’s
Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment. See generally Def.’s Mot. to
Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 5. Because Washington’s claims are
untimely, the Court grants WMATA’s Motion to Dismiss.
Washington’s Complaint formally lists five counts: four Title VII claims (for sexual
harassment, gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and retaliation) and a claim for disability
discrimination and denial of reasonable accommodation under Title VII and the Rehabilitation
Act. Compl. ¶¶ 146–209. Her Complaint also nods at potential GINA and ADA claims, but she
declines to address WMATA’s arguments regarding those claims, Pl.’s Mem. Supp. Opp’n to
Def.’s Mot. at 6, ECF No. 7 (“Pl.’s Opp’n”), which she instead refers to as “[c]laims not raised by
plaintiff,” Pl.’s Opp’n at 6.
The Complaint describes a multitude of events that occurred between 2015 and 2019. See
generally Compl. The Court has tried to discern and summarize her allegations with as much
clarity as possible. As relevant here, Washington alleges that (1) she was sexually harassed by
various coworkers between February and May 2016, id. ¶ 20; (2) later that year, she was retaliated
against for reporting that harassment, id. ¶ 37; (3) up until her termination on April 5, 2019, the
chief of the Metro Transit Police Department, retaliated against her for reporting his discriminatory
and harassing conduct regarding her disability, id. ¶¶ 43–45; (4) between November 30, 2017, and
May 30, 2018, WMATA interfered with her use of family medical leave, id. ¶¶ 52–76; (5) in April
2018, she was forced to take a fit-for-duty exam without notice and was relieved of her firearm
even though no restrictions had been placed on her, id. ¶¶ 77–87; (6) in August 2018, her request
to extend her limited duty assignment was denied but other employees’ similar requests were
granted, id. ¶¶ 88–91; (7) between November 2016 and November 2018, she was subjected to a
hostile work environment, id. ¶¶ 92–111; (8) in November 2018, her request to work evenings
while receiving medical treatment was denied, but another employee was allowed to work
evenings, id. ¶¶ 112–120; (9) between January 2019 and March 2019, she was wrongfully
medically disqualified as a police officer, id. ¶¶ 121–133; and (10) she was wrongfully terminated
on April 5, 2019, id. ¶¶ 134–45.
As required before bringing civil actions under Title VII or the Rehabilitation Act,
Washington first filed EEOC charges to report the various incidents described in her Complaint.
Compl. ¶¶ 15–19. She submitted three administrative charges; only the second and third charges
are relevant here. Id. Washington filed her second EEOC charge in October 2018; it alleged
discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability, as well as retaliation. Compl. ¶ 18; Def.’s
Mot. Ex. 2d Charge, ECF No. 5-8 (“2d Charge”). She amended that charge on April 25, 2019, to
add a claim for wrongful termination. Compl. ¶ 19; 2d Charge. After evaluation of her charge,
EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on August 2, 2019. Def.’s Mot. Ex. 2d Right to Sue (“2d Right
to Sue”), ECF No. 5-9. Washington timely filed suit on the basis of the second charge on October
31, 2019, but Judge Kollar-Kotelly dismissed that complaint without prejudice for lack of service.
Pl.’s Opp’n at 2–3.
Washington filed her third and final EEOC charge on September 16, 2019; it alleged
discrimination, harassment, and a hostile work environment on the basis of her disability, sex, race,
and in retaliation for her protected activity. Def.’s Mot. Ex. 3d Charge, ECF No. 5-11 (“3d
Charge”). EEOC again terminated the charge and issued another right-to-sue letter on February
13, 2020. Def.’s Mot. Ex. 3d Right to Sue, ECF No. 5-12 (“3d Right to Sue”). Washington brought
this suit on the basis of the third EEOC charge on May 26, 2020. See generally Compl.
WMATA argues that the Complaint should be dismissed because Washington failed to
bring administrative charges within 180 days of the alleged violations and failed to file suit within
90 days of receiving the relevant right-to-sue letter. Def.’s Mem. Supp. Mot. to Dismiss or for
Summ. J. at 10–16, ECF 5-1 (“Def.’s Mem.”).1 Washington responds that her claims are timely
because she filed suit within 90 days of receiving the third right-to-sue letter and because the third
EEOC charge was filed within 180 days of discrete or continuing actions forming the bases for her
claims. Pl.’s Opp’n at 9–17.
Prior to bringing a civil action under Title VII or the Rehabilitation Act, an employee must
exhaust her administrative remedies by filing a charge of discrimination with EEOC within 180
days of the alleged discriminatory incident and file suit within 90 days of final administrative
action. Washington v. Washington Metro. Area Transit Auth., 160 F.3d 750, 752 (D.C. Cir. 1998);
McGary v. McHugh, 49 F. Supp. 3d 83, 86 (D.D.C. 2014) (Title VII claims); Koch v. White, 967
F. Supp. 2d 326, 332 (D.D.C. 2013) (Rehabilitation Act claims); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–16(c). Courts
apply the 90-day time limit strictly and dismiss a suit for missing the deadline by even one day.
See, e.g., Woodruff v. Peters, 482 F.3d 521, 525 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (citing Wiley v. Johnson, 436 F.
Supp. 2d 91, 96 (D.D.C. 2006)); Harris v. U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, 126 F.3d 339 (D.C. Cir.
1997) (giving effect to complaint filed one day late only because defendant failed to raise
timeliness as affirmative defense); Smith v. Dalton, 971 F.Supp. 1, 2–3 (D.D.C. 1997) (suit filed
ninety-one days after final agency action is barred).
The Court of Appeals has not addressed how subsequent administrative charges affect the
timeliness of charges previously alleged, but
[c]harges addressed in stale decisions, those issued more than 90 days before filing
of suit, may not form the basis of an employee’s Title VII lawsuit regardless of
subsequent unexpired decisions. This is especially so when the employee presents
an unexpired decision addressing charges that are identical to those addressed in
the stale decision. Lo v. Pan Am. World Airways, Inc., 787 F.2d 827 (2d Cir. 1986).
Similarly, an unexpired decision can only be the basis of a Title VII suit to the
extent that it addresses charges different, if related, to those addressed in stale
While the district court may consider materials outside the pleadings in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss
for lack of jurisdiction, the court must still accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true. Jerome Stevens
Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005).
decisions. Dowdell v. Sunshine Biscuits, Inc., 90 F.R.D. 107, 115–16 (M.D. Ga.
1981); Bill v. Berkely United Sch. Dist., No. 03–4091, 2004 WL 2075447, at *7–8
(N.D. Cal. Sept.16, 2004). This makes sense, because “the time limitations of [Title
VII] would be meaningless” if “potential Title VII plaintiffs could evade those
requirements simply by seeking additional Notices of Right to Sue whenever they
pleased.” Lo, 787 F.2d at 827.
Price v. Greenspan, 374 F. Supp. 2d 177, 184 (D.D.C. 2005), aff’d sub nom. Price v. Bernanke,
470 F.3d 384 (D.C. Cir. 2006).
Washington filed suit on the basis of her second EEOC charge (and the second right-to-sue
letter) on October 31, 2019. Pl.’s Opp’n at 2–3. Judge Kollar-Kotelly dismissed that complaint
without prejudice on February 3, 2020. Id. The Complaint here was filed 113 days later. See
generally Compl. Any charges contained in her second EEOC charge are untimely because the
Complaint here was not filed within 90 days of the second right-to-sue letter (and even if the prior
action somehow tolled that period, Washington waited 113 days from the dismissal of the prior
action to the filing of this one).
The third EEOC charge did not somehow revive those charges.2 Price, 374 F. Supp. 2d at
184. While Washington argues that her third charge contains new charges “including, but not
limited to, actions or events that were recorded in three additional pages of an affidavit,” Pl.’s
Opp’n at 16, claims arising from those actions are timely only if those actions occurred within 180
days of the EEOC charge (i.e., on or after March 20, 2019), see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1);
Washington, 160 F.3d at 752. But all of the actions Washington identifies that were included only
in her third charge occurred much longer ago, on or around March 1, 2018, April 30, 2018, and
between December 16, 2018, and January 6, 2019. Pl.’s Opp’n at 16. And as for Washington’s
Moreover, this action might be time-barred because it was filed more than 90 days after Washington received her
copy of the third right-to-sue letter. See Nkengfack v. Am. Ass’n of Retired Persons, 818 F. Supp. 2d 178, 181 (D.D.C.
2011) (courts presume letter received within three to five days of issuance). The Parties dispute the date on which
Washington received the third letter, but the Court need not resolve that dispute because Washington’s third EEOC
charge did not raise timely claims. See discussion infra Part II.
contention that her termination claim was newly added to the third charge, that is not the case—as
evidenced by the fact that her second (albeit amended) charge includes a claim for her “wrongful
termination.” 2d Charge.
Washington’s final argument is that her third EEOC charge includes claims that are timely
under the so-called “continuing violation” doctrine, Pl.’s Opp’n at 17, which permits a plaintiff to
sue for “the entirety of a series of actions so long as they are interconnected and at least one of
them fell within the statutory period,” Barrett v. Chreky, 634 F. Supp. 2d 33, 36 (D.D.C. 2009)
(quoting Amtrak v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101 (2002)). The continuing violation doctrine typically
applies to patterns of behavior which create a hostile work environment and not to “discrete
actions” such as termination. Id. But even if that doctrine applied here, the continuing violation
doctrine depends on at least one alleged incident taking place during the statutory period. See id.
The only incident alleged in Washington’s third EEOC charge that occurred within the statutory
period was her termination on April 5, 2019, 3d Charge, and that incident had already been raised
in her second charge, 2d Charge. Washington has therefore failed to timely charge and bring suit
on any of her claims.
The claims contained in Washington’s Complaint are untimely and the Court therefore
grants WMATA’s Motion to Dismiss. An Order will be entered contemporaneously with this
DATE: March 31, 2021
CARL J. NICHOLS
United States District Judge
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