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Quarles v. Maryland Department of Human Resources

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 5, 2014

JACQUELINE R. QUARLES, Plaintiff,
v.
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS

MARVIN J. GARBIS, District Judge.

The Court has before it Defendant Maryland Department of Human Resources' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint [Document 23] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

A. Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Jacqueline R. Quarles ("Quarles") began working for Defendant Maryland Department of Human Resources ("MDHR") in 1977. Second Am. Compl. ("SAC") ¶ 3. In 1995, Quarles became a Computer Network Specialist in MDHR's Office of Technology for Human Resources. Id . At a time not specified in the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), Quarles "was employed as a Computer Network Specialist II [("CNS II")] under the supervision of Isabel Fitzgerald, " ("Fitzgerald").[2] Id . ¶ 5.

In or around 2005, Quarles was diagnosed with diabetes. Id . ¶¶ 9, 18. Quarles's diabetes "limits her abilities to move freely, walk steps, or travel from building to building." Id . ¶ 44. In 2005, Quarles was assigned a "sedentary position [in security] as an accommodation for her disability." Id . ¶ 7.

In May 2010, Fitzgerald removed Quarles from her sedentary assignment and "assigned her to a building with five (5) floors that required [Quarles] to go on all 5 floors in addition to duties in other parts of the state."[3] Id . ¶¶ 7-8.

The SAC states that, at an unspecified time, "Ms. Quarles requested an accommodation from Ms. Fitzgerald but Ms. Fitzgerald denied the accommodation." Id . ¶ 22. However, the SAC also states that, at an unspecified time, Fitzgerald offered Quarles an "unacceptable" accommodation that "would [have] result[ed] in a demotion of eleven to twelve grades." Id . ¶ 29.

As to the need for an accommodation, the SAC states that "[w]ith a minor accommodation, Ms. Quarles could perform all the essential functions of a Computer Network Specialist." Id . ¶ 34. However, the SAC seems to state that at some unspecified time, apparently in or about 2010, "Quarles sent management a medical note indicating that Ms. Quarles could work as a CNS II operative without restriction."[4] Id . ¶¶ 18-19.

The SAC states that MDHR "alleged that Ms. Quarles' actions were erratic, belligerent, and hostile behavior [sic] towards management." Id . ¶ 17. While Quarles was out on medical leave in March 2010, MDHR noted that when "management attempted to meet with Ms. Quarles... she refused to attend" and that Quarles "left threatening voicemail messages... became increasingly combative, raised her voice, and often hung up the phone on members of management." Id . ¶ 20.

In a letter dated December 6, 2010, MDHR informed Quarles:

1. that she was being referred to the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services "to pursue and follow alternative placement;'" and
2. that she "ha[d] until January 3, 2011 to separate from your current position, [or MDHR would] take appropriate steps to vacate it.'"

Id. ¶ 38.

On December 27, 2010, Quarles filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Id . ¶¶ 6, 64. Quarles retired from MDHR on January 3, 2011 because she "had no alternative." Id . ¶ 38.

B. Procedural Posture

Quarles filed the Complaint [Document 1], followed by the Amended Complaint [Document 5]. On January 31, 2014, MDHR filed a Motion to Dismiss [Document 12]. Quarles was then granted leave to file the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC")[Document 20]. On April 28, 2014, Quarles filed the SAC [Document 21], presenting claims in three Counts:

Count One Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.
Count Two Wrongful Termination (under the Americans with Disabilities Act)
Count Three Retaliation (under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.)
By the instant Motion, MDHR seeks dismissal of all claims in the SAC pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

II. DISMISSAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule[5] of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. A complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations omitted). When evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. However, conclusory statements or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not [suffice]." Id . A complaint must allege sufficient facts "to cross the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Inquiry into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id . (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). Thus, if "the well-pleaded facts [contained within a complaint] do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id . (alteration in original)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

The SAC does not, on its face, establish subject matter jurisdiction over the instant lawsuit due to the absence of an allegation that Quarles received, or was entitled to receive, a right-to-sue letter. See Davis v. N.C. Dep't of Correction, 48 F.3d 134, 140 (4th Cir. 1995) (noting, in a Title VII case, that "receipt of, or at least entitlement to, a right-to-sue ...


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