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Johnson v. Sectek, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 4, 2015

MARSHA MECHELLE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SECTEK, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

ELLEN LIPTON HOLLANDER, District Judge.

In an Amended Complaint, ECF 15, plaintiff Marsha Mechelle Johnson, who was then pro se, alleged that her former employer, SecTek, Inc. ("SecTek"), defendant, [1] terminated her employment as an "armed security guard" on the basis of her disability, id. at 4, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq. Id. at 5. The Plaintiff identified her disability as a "medical condition" for which she was taking medication, and indicated that the medication made her "sleepy." Id. at 2-4. The Amended Complaint contains one "cause of action." Id. at 5.

Johnson first filed suit against SecTek in December 2013, in a short, handwritten Complaint. ECF 1. SecTek filed a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim, ECF 8, along with a memorandum, ECF 8-1, and a copy of the Charge of Discrimination plaintiff submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See ECF 8-3 ("EEOC Charge").[2] Johnson responded with a memorandum to the Court that outlined additional facts supporting her allegations of discrimination, ECF 9, and also submitted four exhibits: 1) a decision from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on Johnson's post-termination application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income, ECF 9-1 (sealed); 2) a Right to Sue Letter issued by the EEOC, ECF 9-2; 3) a letter from the EEOC explaining its decision to close Johnson's case, ECF 9-3; and 4) a photograph that, according to Johnson, shows a coworker asleep on the job. ECF 9-4. I granted defendant's first motion to dismiss, see ECF 11 (Memorandum); ECF 12 (Order), but with leave for plaintiff to amend the Complaint to include, inter alia, the facts she alleged in her response, ECF 9, to defendant's motion. ECF 8.

Johnson filed her Amended Complaint in May 2014. ECF 15. As noted, plaintiff was self-represented at that time. In June 2014, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. See ECF 16, "Motion to Dismiss"; memorandum in support, ECF 16-1; and exhibits relating to SSA disability benefit requirements, ECF 16-3, 16-4, 16-5. With defendant's consent, the Court granted plaintiff two extensions of time in which to respond to defendant's motion. ECF 19, 21 (Orders). During that time, plaintiff obtained counsel. See ECF 25 (filing signed by counsel); ECF 28 (notice of counsel's appearance).

On July 11, 2014, plaintiff, through counsel, filed an opposition to defendant's Motion to Dismiss. ECF 25 ("Opposition"). On July 14, plaintiff filed a "Motion for Leave to File the Second Amended Complaint, " ECF 30 ("Motion to Amend"), along with a copy of the proposed Second Amended Complaint. ECF 30-2. Defendant replied to plaintiff's Opposition ("Reply, " ECF 31), and also opposed plaintiff's Motion to Amend (ECF 32), to which plaintiff replied. ECF 35.

The motions have been fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary to resolve them. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I will deny plaintiff's Motion to Amend (ECF 30) as well as defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF 16).

Factual Background

In her Amended Complaint, Johnson alleged that she was employed by SecTek as an "armed security guard." ECF 15 ¶ 10. She stated: "Throughout my tenure with SecTec, I had excellent performance reviews. I never received a disciplinary action report. I was never given any warnings. I was a model SecTec employee." Id. ¶ 6.

Further, Johnson asserted that she has a "medical condition" but did not identify the condition in her suit. E.g., id. ¶ 5. She stated that she took medication for that condition, and she identified the medication, id. ¶ 3, but she did not say when she began taking that medication or when, or if, she stopped taking it. Id. ¶ 5. She indicated that the medication had an "impact" on her work, and that "break time" and "other work shifts... would have ameliorated the impact of [her] medication on [her] work." Id. ¶ 9. She also stated that her "on-site SecTec colleagues... were aware" of her "disability" and the medication she took, but that "members of the corporate office... apparently were not aware of it." Id. ¶ 4.

According to plaintiff, on February 14, 2012, she had a meeting with three persons who appear to be coworkers and with "Jack Johnson, a representative of Defendant SecTec from Defendant's corporate office." Id. ¶ 1. Mr. Johnson presented plaintiff with photographs of plaintiff allegedly asleep at her post. Id. ¶ 3. "Plaintiff, in response, explained to Mr. Johnson that she... had taken medication for a disability and that the medication had made Plaintiff sleepy." Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff also told Mr. Johnson the name of the medication. Id. Plaintiff "was allowed to return" to her post after the meeting and she worked again the next day, February 15, as well on February 16, 2012. Id. ¶ 5. However, on February 17, 2012, SecTek fired plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff alleged: "[O]n February 17, 2012, I was fired from my position when SecTec's corporate office personnel realized what the medical condition is for which I was taking medication." Id.

Plaintiff asserted that she was fired because SecTek's "corporate level officers... ascertained the nature of [her] underlying disabling condition between February 14, 2012 and February 17, 2012 from [her] disclosure to SecTec corporate rep Johnson on February 14 of the medication [she] was taking, and they reacted against that condition due to prejudice." Id. ¶ 10. She identified by name other SecTek employees "who did not have any known disabilities" who were caught "sleeping at their posts" but were not fired. Id. ¶ 7. She added: "In fact, these persons have been promoted since then." Id. She also pointed out that SecTek "purports to have a graduated scheme" of discipline, but that she was not "offered" any "graduated response." Id. ¶ 8.

In her proposed Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff seeks to add a second "cause of action, " alleging that SecTek violated the ADA by failing to grant plaintiff's request for reasonable accommodations of her disability. ECF 30-2 at 6-7. She makes no mention of having filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC for failure to accommodate, or of having otherwise exhausted her claim at the administrative level. See generally ECF 30-2.

Plaintiff also proposes the addition of assorted factual allegations in support of her discriminatory discharge claim in her first cause of action. See ECF 30-2 ¶¶ 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 16. In her reply in support of her Motion to Amend, plaintiff explains that "the amendments, at least in part if not in their entirety, implicitly were suggested by Defendant itself in its Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint." ECF 35 at 2.

Additional facts are included in the Discussion.

Discussion

Because granting the Motion to Amend would render moot the Motion to Dismiss, I will consider first the Motion to Amend. See, e.g., Young v. City of Mt. Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 572 (4th Cir. 2001) ("As a general rule, an amended pleading ordinarily supersedes the ...


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