Sewell v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Filing 21

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 3/13/2017. (kns, Deputy Clerk)(c/m 3/13/17)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAI{YLAND Southern Di\'ision ,-. r- ,. I. - * STARSHA SEWELL, * Plaintiff, Case No.: G.JII-16-z.t56 * \'. * WASHINGTON i\1ETIWI'OLlTAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, * Defendant. * * * * * * * * MEMORANDUM * * * * * * OPINION PlnintilT Starsha Sewell [ brings this case against Defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA"). alleging that it engaged in discriminatory employment practices in violation of her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VIr"). 42 U.S.c. ~ 2000e e{ seq .. and the Americans with Disabilities Aet ("ADA"). 42 U.s.c. ~ 12112 e{ .1'("1- ECF No. I.' Pending before the Court arc the 1()lIowing 1110tions:Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. ECF NO.7: Plaintiirs Motion to Strike Defendant's "Out of Time" Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. I I: Plaintilrs Opposition to Defendant's "Out of Time Reply" to Plaintiffs Motion I()r Reconsideration. ECF No. 12: Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Delendant's Untimely Opposition. ECF No. 17: and Plaintiirs Motion to Strike Defendant's Second Untimely Opposition. ECF No. 1 Any claims that Plaintiffattcmpts to hring 011 behalf of Linda l\1erccr will not be considered by the COlll1 because. Olitsioc of circumstances not present here. a pro-sc litigant lllay not represent the interests of another individual. Sec lI';f!lenpooII \'. ./e.tliwd\' Agl'l1(l'. Inc .. 88 F. Apr'x 659. * I (4th Cir. 200.t) (ciling r,.it~l.?el1 \'. And,,(,sl'I1, 113 F.3d 391. 393 (2<.1Cir. 19(7) (discussing potential e.\ception to the rule in the context of estate proceedings). ! In a prior Order. the Court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction all claims regarding an alleged conspiracy and public corruption resulting in Plaintiffs loss orthe custody of her children. ECF No.3. In a second Order on August 29. 2016. the Court reiterated its dismissal ofPlaintiirs additional claims and cmphasized that "only the employmcnt discrimination claim against Washington f\tletropolitan Area Transit Authority" would be allowed to proceed. EeF No. 10 at 3. -, J 9. Thcsc issucs havc bccn fully bricfed and a hearing is unneccssary. 2(16). For thc rcasons that follow. the Court will grant Defendant's dcny all of Plail]titrs Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. Motion to Dismiss and will pcnding motions. BACKGROUND3 I. PlaintitTwas employed by WMATA from February 8. 2010 through Scptcmbcr 2012. ECF No. I al 5: Plaintiff allcges that WMATA employces cmployment engagcd in a scrics of discriminatory practiccs against hcr. both during hcr employmcnt attcmpted to rc-apply ftlr a position aileI' hcr dcparturc. with thc agcncy and whcn shc See R('//erally Eel' No. I. From June 16.2011 through November 4. 2011. PlaintilTwas medical issues.!d at 3. PlaintilTallcges unablc to work duc to that Dr. Gina Pervall; diseriminatcd of a prior disability by rcfusing to providc hcr with documentation until January 25. 2012. cvcn though Plaintiffhad against her bccause neccssary to rcturn to work passcd a mcdical and drug tcst administcred by another doctor on November 7. 20 II. !d Plainti 1'1' furthcr allegcs that Dr. Pervall obstruct cd Plaintitrs cmployment opportunitics in rctaliation It)r PlaintilTengaging with her union regarding thc dclayed rcinstatement. in protectcd activities !d at 4. In April 2012. Plaintiff applied lor a position as "Sr. Organizational with WMATA. but was removcd Irom consideration by Tiquisha Harris. It!. at 8. On July 6. 2012. Plaintiff lilcd a ItJrlnal complaint ofcmploymcnt same day. was invited to engagc in an inftJrlnalmccting resources departmcnt concerning her allegations. .; Unless stated otherwise. all facts arc taken from Plaintiffs Training Consultant" discrimination with WMATA and. on thc with an ofticial li'OIll the human 1<1. On July 11.2012. PlaintitT receivcd a Complaint or documents allachcd to and relieu upon in the Complaint. and arc accepted as truc. -I Pin cites to documents filed onlhe Court"s electronic tiling. system (CMfECF) refer 10 page numbers generated by that svstCI1l . .sThr~ughout the Complaint. Plaintiffrcfcrcnccs a variety of individuals. including Dr. Pcrvall. without explaining their role with \\/MATA. 2 "generic"letter discriminating to continue regarding her concerns. against r I'lainti ff] in the hiring process:' with WMATA's voluntary with filing a tormal complaint Plaintiff discrimination which "did nol...hold Tiquisha Harris accountable 111. On July 3 I. 2012. I'lainti ff declined dispute resolution process and requested further alleges that on July 29. 2012. Amy Quillen. motivated tlling a WMATA against Plaintiff for engaging internal complaint. conducted to move I'lr\vard 111. at 9. against WMATA. and in retaliation an unauthorized by racial in protected activities. background Plaintitrs against I'lainti IT request for a formal charge of discrimination. PlaintifT filed a charge with the EEOC regarding ADA on August 28. 2012./d such as check of Plain tilT. Id. Finally. on August 9. 2012. I'lainti ITalleges that James Wynne discriminated because of her sex when he denied Plaintiffs f(1I" violations at 5." On July 16.2013. Id of her rights under Title VII and the the EEOC reached a final decision in case. /d On October 25. 2013.l'laintiffapplied with WMATA. 111. at 5-6. PlaintifTstates On October 28. 2013. PlaintifTwas for her engagement in protected that she was "qualilied denied consideration activities. EEOC. tlling an internal complaint for the position of "Director including with WMATA. to Iillithe] of Customer Care" position:' /d at 6. lor the position. allegedly in retaliation tlling a charge of discrimination and raising her discrimination her union. /d at 6. I'lainti ff further alleges that she was denied consideration with the concerns with based on her sex and race. 111. Plaintiff filed an additional June 10. 2016. 111. at I:see also charge with the EEOC and was issued a right to sue letter on ECI' NO.1-I. 7 o Neither pm1y has submitted a copy of Plaintiffs 2012 EEOC Charge of Discrimination to the Court. Therefore. it is unclear what specific charges Plaintilfraised in those prol'cedings. 7 As with the Plaintiffs 2012 EEOC Charge. neither party has submitted a copy ofPlaintirrs second EEOC Charge of Discrimination to the Court. Thus. it is lIllclear what specific charges Plaintiff raised in those proceedings as well. 3 II. STANDARD OF REVIEW To survive a motion to dismiss invoking Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). "a complaint must contain sufficient t:lctual matter. accepted as true. to 'state a claim to rcliefthat is plausible on its face:" Ashen!/! ". I<lhal.556 U.S. 662. 678 (2009) (citing Ikll Atlall/ic Co'l'. \'. Ttl'Omhl)'.550 U.S. 544. 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintitTpleads I:lctual content that allows the court to draw the rcasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ilfhal. 556 U.S. at 678. "Threadbare recitals of the clements of a cause of action. supported by mere conclusory statements. do not suffice:' /d. (citing TII'omhl)', 550 U.S. at 555) ("a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[mentJ to relicI' requires more thanlabcls and conclusions. and a fonnulaic recitation ofa cause ofaction's clements will not do. "). Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)'s purpose "is to test the sufficiency ofa complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts. the merits ofa claim. or the applicability ofdcfenses:' Presle)' \'. Cit)' ,!!,Charlol/esl'ille. 464 FJd 480. 483 (4th Cir. 2006) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). a court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint:' and must "draw all reasonable inferences lfi'<)mthose lacts I in favor of the plainti fl'." E.!. dll PO/llde Nemollrs & Co. \'. Kolonlndlls .. Inc.. 637 F.3d 435. 440 (4th Cir. 2(11) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court need not. however. accept unsupp0l1ed legal allegations. sec ReI'em' ". Charles COII/ll)'Comm '1'.1'. 882 F.2d 870. 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Icgal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Papasan v. Allain. 478 U.S. 265. 286 ( 1986). or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any refcrence to actual cvents. United Black Firelighters olNor/i>lk ". Hirst. 604 F.2d 844. 847 (4th Cir. 1979). Although plcadings ofsell~represented litigants must bc accorded libcral construction. libcral construction does not mean a court can ignorc a clear I~\ilurc to allcgc lacts that sct forth a claim. see IVeller \'. Dep', o(Soc. Sen's .. 90 I F.2d 387. 391 (4th Cir. 1990). cognizable III. see Gordoll \'. I.eeke. 574 F.2d 1 147. 1 151 (4th Cir. 1978). DISCUSSIONs A. ADA Claims PlaintilTalleges that Dcfcndant violated hcr rights undcr thc ADA by dclaying to rcturn to work bccausc of a prior disability cmploymcnt opportunitics and thcn rctaliatcd against hcr by obstructing whcn shc raiscd hcr conccrns about discrimination No. I at 3-4. Tillc I of thc ADA bars discrimination disability "in rcgard to job application cmployccs. cmploymcnt." cmploycc compcnsation. that "[n1o pcrson shall discriminatc chargc ... undcr this chaptcr'" proccdurcs. against an individual the hiring. advancement. A scparatc provision against any individual addrcsses hcr to hcr union. Eel' on thc basis of job training. and other tcnns. conditions. 42 U.S.c. ~ 12 I 12(a). hcr ability or discharge of and privilcgcs retaliation bccause such individual of and spccilics ... madc a !d.. ~ 12203(a). Howcver. states arc gcncrally immunc li'OI11 suits II Plaintiffs "Motion to Strike Defendant's 'Out ofTimc' Motion lo Dismiss," ECF No. II. further explained ill her "l1ricfof Intent to ProcC'cJ," r:CF No. 14. is \\ithout merit and will be denied. PlaintitTallegcs that the U.S. Marshals effectuated service 011 WMA T A 011 August 1.2016. but that WMA T A Iraudulently postdated their return receipt of service to August 4. 2016. ECF No. 14 at 1. Using August I. 2016 as the date of service. Plaintiff argues that WMATA's Motion to Dismiss. filed on August 25. 2016. was untimely. Ill. In suppon of her allegations. Plaintiffattaches a U.S.P.S. tracking confirmJtion. which sWtes that an item "was delivered to the mail roOIll at 3: 19 pill on August I. 2016:' ECF No. 14-2 at I. and the U.S. Marshal's signature that the summons was delivered on August 1. 2016. Eel-' No. 14-1 at I. I i{l\vever. because service was effectuated by certified mail. the U.S. Marshal did not personally deliver the summons. and. thus. it appears he was merely copying do\\n information regarding delivery Ii'om the U.S.P.S. tracking wcbsile. Inlt.mnal receipt ofa complaint is insufficient to establish service. Tinoco l". TlII!sis Painting Inc.. No. GJH-16-752. 2016 W L (1..195..128. t * I (D. Md. Nov. I. 2(16) (ciling 1(;11\'. a lJarker. No. Clv.A. DKC20tl5-1037. 2005 WL In1S51. at *2 (D. Md. May 26. 2005)). Furthermore. a signed return receipl creates a rebuttable presumption of proper service./d. at *2. Here. PlainlitThas failed to allege sufficient facts to overcome the presumption Ihat service was effectuated on August 4. 2016 when it was signed for by WMA TA's agent. EeF No. 13. Bccause WMATA's Motion to Dismiss was timely tiled. Plaintiffs Motion is denieLi. Plainlilrs additionallllotions. ECF Nos. 12.17 and 19 arc similarly llawed.lnthe first motion orlhe set. ECF No. 12. PlaintilTappcars 10 argue that Defendant"s Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration was untimely. As the Court already addressed Plaintiffs Motion lor Reconsideration in a prior Order. ECF No. 10. Plaintiffs motion is denied as mool. Plaintiffs later motions. ECF Nos. 17 and 19. again seek to strike Defcndant"s Motion to Dismiss as untimely. reiterating the same arguments she raised in her previous mol ion. As discussed if?!i'li. such arguments arc without merit. Thus. PlaintiWs Jllotions are denied. 5 under the ADA. See Bd o(1l-ils/ees oj'Ulli\'. oj'Alahama \'. Garrell. 531 U.S. 356. 374 (2001). . . . As a state entity. WMATA enjoys the immunity afforded to Maryland and Virginia, .folies ", Washillg/oll Me/I'll. Area 7/,(lI1si/Au/h.. 205 F.3d 428. 432 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (stating that. as pa11 of WMATA's creation. "Virginia and Maryland each conferred its immunity upon WMATA. . which therefore enjovs. to the same extent as each state. immunitv from suit in federal court . . based on its performance of governmcntal fUlletions,"); !lopps \'. Washillg/oll Me/ro. Area 7i'allsi/ Au/h.. 480 F. Supp, 2d 243. 256 (D,D,C. 2007) ("Beeausc WMATA is immune Irom suit. plaintilrs ADA claim must be dismissed,"), Ilcre. Plainti fTseeks mOlletary damages regarding WMATA' s employment practices related to its pertlmnance of governmental functions. See Mm:dmlil \', Washillg/oll Me/I'll. Area 7im/si/ All/h.. No, CIV,A, TDC-14-3397. 2015 WI. 4389885. at *4 (D. Md . .July 13.2015) (listing "hiring. training. and supervision practices" as governmcntal functions) (internal citation omitted). As WMATA is immune to such claims. Plaintiffs ADA claims arc dismissed with prejudice, R. Title VII Claims" I'laintifTciaims that Defendant violated her rights under Title VII. alleging two claims of failure to hire regarding her application for the positions of"Sr. Organizational Training Consultant"' and "Director of Customer Care" at WMA TA. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on "race. color. religion. sex. or national origin."' 42 U,S,c. * 2000e-2(a). To set Ilmh a prima./ilcie case of discrimination Illr failure to hire. a plaintifT must show four " Defendant argues that these claims arc timed barred because Plaintiffreccivcd a right 10 sue letter regarding these allegations in 2013. See 42 U.S.C 2000e-5(f)( J) (plaintiff must initiate civil suit within 90 days of notice of EEOC right to sue letter). Ilowcvcr. Defendant fails to address the f:1ct that PlaintilTreccivcd a new right to sue letter fro~l the EEOC on June 10, 2016. ECF No. I at I. Based on the record before it. it is unclear to thc Court what claims \\-'crcraised in each EEOC chargc or if Plaintiff exhausted her adm inislrativc rcmedies prior to til ing this claim. Becausc the Court finds that Plaintiff did not stalc a claim. thc Court will nol decidc thc issue of exhaustion. * 6 elements: "( I ) she is a member of a protected e1ass: (2) her employer which she applied or sought to apply: (3) she was qualitied rejected fClrthe position under circumstances discrimination:' Cir.1996) E\"(lI1s v. Techl7ologies (citations omitted). Here. I'laintifTtails Organizational "qualitied IClrthe position: and (4) she was giving rise to an inlerence & Sen'ice Applicatiol7s Co .. 80 r:.3d 954. 959-60 (4th to even allege that she was qualified Consultant:' of"Direetor ofCustol11er is berell of any factual allegations fClfthe position under circumstances fClrthe positon of"Sr. and merely states in conelusory Care:' or training that would support such an assertion. Complaint of unlawful Plainti fThas not met this burden. to till [the] position" skills. education. Plaintiff's Training had an open position fClr fashion that she was without any relerence to her ECF No. I at 6. 8. Further. that demonstrate that "shc was rcjectcd giving rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination:' EV(1l7s. 80 F.3d at 959-60. Plaintiff merely states that she applied for two positions at WMATA and was not selected. "Threadbare mere conclusory statements. 555). Thus. Plaintiffs recitals of the clements do not sutlice:' claims arc dismissed. ofa cause of action. supported by Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678 (citing T\I'oll1h1)'. 550 U.S. at III 10 Likewise. Plaintitrs additional claims. relating to an unauthorized background check and WMA TA's failure to issue a formal charge of discrimination. assuming they arc even within the purvie\\' of Title VII. similarly fail as PlaintiO' has stated her allegations in conclusory fashion. without any nlcts to SUPP0l1 an inference that such actions \vcrc taken because of her race. sex or in retaliation for her "cfTorts to secure or advance enforcement of the basic guarantees."' Burling/on N. & Saula Fe Ry. Co. \', While. 54& U.S. 53. 63 (2006). Thus. such claims. if cognizable. are also dismissed. 7 Act's IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons. Defendant"s amI PlaintilTs Motion to Dismiss. ECF NO.7. shall he granted. pending motions. ECF Nos. II. 12. 17 and 19 shall be denied. A separate Order follows. Dated: Marcil 3 . 20 I 7 GEORGE.I.IIAZEL United States District .Iudge 8

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