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Hankins v. Anderson

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 30, 2016

ANESSA HANKINS, pro se, Plaintiff,
v.
JANET ANDERSON, et al., Defendants.

          Vanessa Hankins, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          Janet Anderson, Defendant, represented by Alex S. Gordon, Office of the United States Attorney.

          Carolyn Colvin, Defendant, represented by Alex S. Gordon, Office of the United States Attorney.

          Theresa Gruber, Defendant, represented by Alex S. Gordon, Office of the United States Attorney.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

         The pro se Plaintiff Vanessa Hankins ("Plaintiff" or "Hankins") has brought this action against Defendant Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Social Security")[1], alleging discrimination on unspecified bases under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and age discrimination under the federal sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 633a ("ADEA")[2], in connection with her non-selection for a competitive position of employment at Social Security. Currently pending before this Court is Defendant Colvin's Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 8). The Parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant Colvin's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 8) is GRANTED. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         Documents filed pro se are "liberally construed" and are "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citation omitted). Plaintiff Vanessa Hankins ("Plaintiff" or "Hankins") is a Paralegal Specialist (GS-12) at the Social Security Administration ("Social Security") Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. See Compl., p. 18, ECF No. 1-1. In January of 2015, Hankins applied for promotion to a GS-13 Paralegal Specialist position. See Supp. Compl., p. 8, ECF No. 4-2. Hankins was awarded a score of 97 out of 100 on her applicant evaluation. See Compl., p. 36, ECF No. 1-1. The cut-off for the agency's "Best Qualified List" ("BQL") for that position was a score of 89. Id.

         On May 14, 2015, Hankins contacted a Social Security Human Resources Specialist regarding the status of her application. Id. at 36-37. Then, on June 2, 2015, Social Security notified Hankins that she had been placed on the BQL list, but had not been selected for the position. Id. On May 26, 2015, Plaintiff contacted an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") counselor at Social Security, claiming that the agency had discriminated against her on the basis of her age (over 40) in failing to hire her for the position. See Supp. Compl., p. 6-7, ECF No. 4-2. On August 24, 2015, an EEO counselor issued to Plaintiff a "Notice of the Right to File a Formal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Complaint of Discrimination" (ECF No. 4-2). However, Plaintiff has not filed a formal EEO complaint. On January 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed in this Court a form "Complaint for Violation of Fair Labor Standards" (ECF No. 1). On February 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed in this Court a form "Complaint for Employment Discrimination" (ECF No. 4)[3].

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is "to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006).

         The Supreme Court's recent opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), "require that complaints in civil actions be alleged with greater specificity than previously was required." Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). In Twombly, the Supreme Court articulated "[t]wo working principles" that courts must employ when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, while a court must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are not afforded such deference. Id. (stating that "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to plead a claim); see also Wag More Dogs, LLC v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012) ("Although we are constrained to take the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we need not accept legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Second, a complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege "a plausible claim for relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff Has Failed to Exhaust the Administrative Prerequisites to a Title ...


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