Meadows v. Charles County School Board of Education et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION (c/m to Plaintiff 12/5/17 sat). Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 12/5/2017. (sat, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
DEBRA F. MEADOWS
Civil Action No. DKC 16-2897
CHARLES COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD OF
EDUCATION, et al.
employment case is the motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, for summary judgment, and for judgment on
(ECF No. 75).
The issues have been briefed, and
the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary.
Plaintiff’s complaint is not a model of clarity.
lives in federally subsidized housing with her children, started
working for Defendant in 2011, and suffers from dyslexia.
No. 1, at 7-8).
Although not stated in the complaint, she
stated in the EEOC charge that she is Jewish.
(ECF No. 75-5).
Unless otherwise noted, the facts outlined here are set
forth in the complaint and construed in the light most favorable
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant changed her status from
employee to independent contractor for the purposes of her 2015
Plaintiff further alleges that she incurred a debt
related to her housing after Defendant misreported her income
and misclassified her and her daughter as “border[s] and migrant
(ECF No. 1, at 7).
She also alleges that Defendant
did not give her vacation leave or sick leave and refused to pay
her for work she had done during the 2015 school year.
On March 26, 2015, Plaintiff contacted her Congressman to
explain the problem she was having with her taxes.
1, at 6-7).
(ECF No. 1-
Plaintiff was injured on November 2, 2015, and she
quit working for Defendant on February 26, 2016.
(ECF No. 1, at
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on June 2, 2016, alleging that
her former employer, Keller Transportation, Inc., discriminated
disability when it changed the way it deducted taxes from her
paycheck, did not compensate her for time worked, and denied her
(ECF No. 75-5).
notice on June 15.
The EEOC issued her a right to sue
(ECF No. 1, at 6).
Plaintiff filed suit on
August 18 against Defendant, Helen Keller, the Charles County
Board of Education (the “Board”), and “Keller Jr[.] Keller III
Ernest Bus Service Inc.,” alleging discrimination on the basis
of disability, religion, and national origin in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII), 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq.
(Id. at 5).
On November 23, Ms. Keller moved to dismiss all claims
judgment on March 1, 2017.
(ECF No. 48).
On June 16, the court
granted Ms. Keller’s motion to dismiss and the Board’s motion
for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 67).
Because “Keller Jr[.]
identified and served by Plaintiff, it was dismissed on July 6.
(ECF No. 70).
After discovery closed, Keller Transportation,
Inc., the only remaining defendant, moved to dismiss for lack of
Plaintiff has not responded, despite receiving notice of the
opportunity and necessity to respond.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975).
(ECF No. 76); Roseboro v.
Motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
Standard of Review
Motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
are governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).
exists in the federal court.
The plaintiff bears the
See Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., a
Div. of Standex Int'l Corp., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999).
In a 12(b)(1) motion, the court “may consider evidence outside
the pleadings” to help determine whether it has jurisdiction
over the case before it.
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac
R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991); see
12(b)(1) motion “only if the material jurisdictional facts are
not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a
matter of law.”
Richmond, 945 F.2d at 768.
Defendant first argues that this court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction because many of Plaintiff’s claims exceed the scope
of the EEOC charge.
(ECF No. 75-1, at 9-11).
have occasionally mislabeled the requirement that a Title VII
complaint not exceed the scope of an EEOC charge as a procedural
bar, see, e.g., Balas v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., 711
F.3d 401, 407 (4th Cir. 2013)(quoting Chacko v. Patuxent Inst.,
429 F.3d 505, 506 (4th Cir. 2005) and Dennis v. Cnty of Fairfax,
55 F.3d 151, 156 (4th Cir. 1995), the scope of the EEOC charge is
a jurisdictional bar.
See, e.g., Jones v. Calvert Grp., Ltd.,
551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Importantly, a failure by the
plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies concerning a Title
jurisdiction over the claim.”); Bryant v. Bell Atl. Md., Inc.,
288 F.3d 124, 133 (4th Cir. 2002) (“Therefore, because the scope
of Bryant’s complaint exceeds the limits set by the allegations
merits of Bryant’s retaliation or color and sex discrimination
An EEOC charge, however, “does not strictly limit a
Title VII suit which may follow.”
Chisholm v. United States
Postal Serv., 665 F.2d 482, 491 (4th Cir. 1981) (emphasis added).
An EEOC “charge must be construed with utmost liberality
since they are made by those unschooled in the technicalities of
Alvarado v. Bd. of Trs. of Montgomery Cmty.
Coll., 848 F.2d 457, 460 (4th Cir. 1988) (quoting Kaplan v. Int'l
Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Emps., 525 F.2d 1354, 1359 (9th
Cir. 1975)), and it exhausts not only those facts contained in
the charge but also all factual allegations that “a reasonable
Chacko v. Patuxent Inst., 429 F.3d at 512.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has found
that a reasonable investigation would uncover additional facts,
not identified in the original charge, related to the subject
matter of the original charge.
See Chishom, 665 F.2d at 491
discriminated in promotions sufficed to put USPS on notice that
the entire promotional system was being challenged, including
aspects of the system such as discipline and testing which were
not specifically enumerated in the complaint.”).
Circuit has also found that a reasonable investigation would not
perpetrated by people not identified in the initial charge.
discrete instances of supervisor misconduct not involving name
calling could not be expected to lead to a continuous pattern of
retaliation, and color and sex discrimination, however, could
not reasonably be expected to occur in light of Bryant’s sole
charge of race discrimination”).
Plaintiff alleged that Defendant discriminated against her
when it “stopped taking taxes out of my paycheck, stopped paying
for time worked, and stopped giving leave” in her EEOC charge.
(ECF No. 75-5, at 2).
In her Title VII suit, Plaintiff has
alleged, in addition to the claims in her EEOC charge, that she
incurred a housing debt because her employer overreported her
income and was placed in a “group [i]nsurance [p]ool.”
1, at 8).
The claim that Defendant misreported Plaintiff’s
income to housing authorities does not relate to any actions
investigation would have uncovered.
This complaint centers on a
therefore is outside the scope of the EEOC charge.
the claim of being placed in the wrong insurance plan does not
insurance plan and housing debt will be dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
Plaintiff also brings a claim for retaliation. At times, “a
plaintiff may raise the retaliation claim for the first time in
Nealon v. Stone, 958 F.2d 584, 590 (4th Cir.
brought before the EEOC, when an employee is retaliated against
for filing the initial EEOC charge.
In such a situation,
Defendant identifies a possible claim related to pension
benefits. The complaint is confusing, but, despite a reference
to a pension, the pension issue does not appear to be related to
any cause of action. (See ECF No. 7-8). If it were, the court
would lack subject matter jurisdiction. See Chacko, 429 F.3d at
Hentosh v. Old Dominion Univ., 767 F.3d 413, 416-17 (4th Cir.
If, however, the retaliation is unrelated to the EEOC
charge itself, and arose prior to the filing of the EEOC charge,
then a failure to raise the retaliation claim before the EEOC
will divest the courts of subject matter jurisdiction.
Sloop v. Mem’l Mission Hosp., Inc., 198 F.3d 147, 149 (4th Cir.
Plaintiff did not identify retaliation as a basis for her
If she claims that reporting the tax issue to her
actions occurred before she left Defendant’s employment, then
the actions were taken prior to the filing of the EEOC charge,
and should have been included in the EEOC charge.
Thus, to the
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.3
III. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Standard of Review
Rule 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed
— but early enough not to delay trial — a party may move for
judgment on the pleadings.”
Under the circumstances presented
As will be discussed in the next section, if Plaintiff
contends that the filing of the EEOC complaint was her protected
activity, she fails to identify any potentially retaliatory
adverse employment actions and the complaint will be dismissed
for failure to state a claim.
here, the motion is governed by the same standard governing
Burbach Broad Co. v. Elkins Radio Corp., 278 F.3d
401, 405–06 (4th Cir. 2002).
The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is
to test the sufficiency of the complaint.
Presley v. City of
plaintiff’s complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule
8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
8(a)(2). “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing,’ rather than a
blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.”
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 n. 3 (2007).
Bell. Atl. Corp.
That showing must
consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of
a cause of action” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal citations omitted).
As best as can be discerned, Plaintiff is alleging that she
was misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an
employee and that she was denied sick leave, vacation time, and
payment for work performed.
(ECF No. 1, at 7-8).
alleging all this was done in violation of Title VII and the
Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings.
To state a plausible claim of discrimination under Title
VII and the ADA, Plaintiff must allege facts showing that she
was discriminated against.
Coleman v. Md. Court of Appeals, 626
contains only a legal claim of discrimination and allegations
about disputes between her and her employer.
plausible claim of discrimination.
The allegations do
See McCleary-Evans v. Md.
Dep’t of Transp., State Highway Admin, 780 F.3d 582, 585-86 (4th
Cir. 2015); Haulbrook v. Michelin N. Am., 252 F.3d 696, 702 (4th
To state a plausible claim of retaliation, Plaintiff must
allege: “(1) engagement in a protected activity; (2) adverse
employment action; and (3) a causal link between the protected
activity and the employment action.”
Coleman, 626 F.3d at 190.
As noted earlier, Plaintiff has failed to identify any adverse
Therefore, to the extent Plaintiff claims Defendant retaliated
against her after she filed the EEOC charge, her claim will be
Because Defendant is entitled to judgment on the pleadings,
its motion for summary judgment does not need to be addressed.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction, for judgment on the pleadings,
Transportation, Inc. (ECF No. 75) will be granted.
order will follow.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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