United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
K. Bredar United States District Judge.
Joseph Felder initiated this action by filing a complaint
against his former employers, Defendants Maximus, Inc.
(“Maximus”), and Computer Sciences Corporation
(“CSC”). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges
age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (Counts I and II),  and in violation of the
Maryland Civil Rights Act (Counts III and IV); Plaintiff also
alleges racial discrimination in violation of Title VII
(Counts V and VI), and in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981
(Counts VII and VIII). (Id.) Defendant Maximus has
moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against it for racial
discrimination, only (Counts V and VII). (ECF No. 7.)
Subsequent to that motion, Plaintiff filed an Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 15), as well as an opposition to
Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 13). In its reply,
Defendant has indicated a desire to apply its motion to
dismiss to the Amended Complaint. (Def.'s Reply 1 n.1 ECF
No. 16.) No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016.) For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion
will be denied.
Standard for Dismissal for Failure to State a
complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Facial plausibility exists “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference
of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to
support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the
Twombly opinion stated, “Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” 550 U.S. at 555. “A pleading
that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.' . . . Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555, 557). Although when considering a motion to
dismiss a court must accept as true all factual allegations
in the complaint, this principle does not apply to legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555.
Allegations of the Amended
is a Caucasian male who was born in 1945. (Am. Compl. ¶
2.) His employment with Maximus originated with that
company's acquisition of Plaintiff's former employer,
Acentia, which allegedly occurred in January of 2011.
(Id. at ¶ 12.) In 2015, Plaintiff held a
position of Business Analyst and was working on the Quality
Improvement Organization project of the Development Effort
Consolidation Contract at CSC's location in Columbia,
Maryland. (Id. at ¶¶ 13, 14.) Plaintiff
alleges his supervisor and other team members were all of
Indian national origin, often spoke amongst each other in a
foreign language presumed to be Hindi, and were significantly
younger than he was. (Id. at ¶¶ 17, 18.)
Plaintiff claims he was the most experienced member of his
group, had the longest tenure with his employer, and
performed his job satisfactorily. (Id. at
¶¶ 18, 20.) Nonetheless, his employment was
terminated effective May 7, 2015, while his younger,
less-experienced, Indian coworkers were retained.
(Id. at ¶ 16.)
Maximus's motion to dismiss only involves Plaintiff's
allegations brought pursuant to § 1981 and Title VII.
Plaintiff states a plausible claim under both statutes. As
such, Defendant's motion will be denied.
passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, § 1981
provides in pertinent part that “[a]ll persons within
the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same
right in every State and Territory to make and enforce
contracts . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens.” 42
U.S.C. § 1981 (2015). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964 provides a right of action to an employee whose
employment was terminated (or took another enumerated action)
because of the employee's race. 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-2(a) (2015). In the employment context, courts employ a
common analysis on claims of racial discrimination brought
under either Title VII or § 1981. Gairola v. Va.
Dept. of Gen. Servs., 753 F.2d 1281, 1285 (4th Cir.
1985). Thus, in order to survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint for discriminatory termination under either statute
must allege facts allowing for a reasonable inference that
the defendant terminated the plaintiff's employment
because of his race. McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Dep't
of Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th
might reasonably infer that an employee was terminated
because of his race if the employee alleges direct or
indirect evidence of a discriminatory motive or if he pleads
a prima facie case of discrimination under McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green. See Furnco Const. Corp. v.
Waters, 438 U.S. 567, 579-80 (1978). An employee states
a prima facie case of employment discrimination when he
claims (1) that he is a member of a protected class, (2) that
his employer took an adverse employment action against him,
(3) that he was meeting legitimate employment expectations,
and (4) that he was treated differently from
similarly-situated persons outside of his protected class.
Ruffin v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 126 F.Supp.3d 521,
527 (D. Md. 2015), aff'd as modified, 659 F.
App'x 744 (4th Cir. 2016).
pleading stage, it is not necessary that a plaintiff
plead the elements of a prima facie case of employment
discrimination in order to survive a motion to dismiss.
McCleary-Evans, 780 F.3d at 584-85. The plaintiff
could, after all, allege direct evidence of an employer's
discriminatory intent. Foster v. Univ. of Md.-E.
Shore, 787 F.3d 243, 249 (4th Cir. 2015). Nonetheless,
because it raises a permissible inference of discrimination,
pleading a prima facie case is sufficient to defeat
a motion to dismiss. See Sheppard v. David Evans &
Assoc., 694 F.3d 1045, 1050 n.2 (9th Cir. 2012).
instant case, Plaintiff has not alleged direct or
circumstantial evidence of his employer's discriminatory
intent. However, he has alleged (1) that he was a Caucasian
with a national origin in the United States; (2) that his
employment was terminated; (3) that he was meeting his
employer's expectations at the time of his termination
(and was well-qualified for the work); and (4) that other
employees holding the same or similar positions were not
terminated, were less qualified for said positions, had less
seniority with the company, and were of a different race and
national origin from those of Plaintiff. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 15-20.) Thus, while he was not required to do
so, Plaintiff has alleged facts constituting a prima facie
case of discriminatory discharge. Given that such facts, if
proven, would be sufficient to merit judgment for Plaintiff,
such allegations are sufficient to meet the lesser standard
necessary to defeat a motion to dismiss. Therefore, Plaintiff
has pled a plausible claim for relief.
claim is thus distinguishable from that presented in
Ruffin, a case relied on by the Defendant.
(See Def.'s Reply Mot. 2, ECF No. 16) The
employee in that case could neither present a prima facie
case of discrimination nor allege other facts to plausibly
infer she was fired because of her race. 126 F.Supp.3d at
Plaintiff has made out a plausible claim for relief,