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Sewell v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 13, 2017



          GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Starsha Sewell[1] brings this case against Defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA"). alleging that it engaged in discriminatory employment practices in violation of her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ('"Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e el seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). 42 U.S.C. § 12112 ef seq. ECF No. I. Pending before the Court are the following motions: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No.1[2]; Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Defendant's "Out of Time" Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 11; Plaintiffs Opposition to Defendant's "Out of Time Reply" to Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration. ECF No. 12: Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Defendant's Untimely Opposition. ECF No. 1 7: and Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Defendant's Second Untimely Opposition. ECF No.

         19. These issues have heen fully briefed and a hearing is unnecessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and will deny all of Plaintiffs pending motions.


         Plaintiff was employed by WMATA from February 8. 2010 through September 2012. ECF No. 1 at 5.[4]Plaintiff alleges that WMATA employees engaged in a series of discriminatory employment practices against her. both during her employment with the agency and when she attempted to re-apply for a position after her departure. See generally ECF No. 1.

         From June 16. 2011 through November 4. 2011. Plaintiff was unable to work due to medical issues. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Gina Pervall[5] discriminated against her because of a prior disability by refusing to provide her with documentation necessary to return to work until January' 25. 2012. even though Plaintiff had passed a medical and drug test administered by another doctor on November 7. 2011. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Pervall obstructed Plaintiffs employment opportunities in retaliation for Plaintiff engaging in protected activities with her union regarding the delayed reinstatement. Id. at 4.

         In April 2012. Plaintiff applied for a position as "St. Organizational Training Consultant" with WMATA. but was removed from consideration by Tiquisha Harris, Id. at 8. On July 6. 2012, Plaintiff 11 led a formal complaint of employment discrimination with WMATA and, on the same day. was invited to engage in an informal meeting with an official from the human resources department concerning her allegations. Id. On July 11, 2012. Plaintiff received a •'generic" letter regarding her concerns, which "did not.. .hold Tiquisha Harris accountable tor discriminating against [Plaintiff] in the hiring process." Id. On July 31. 2012. Plaintiff declined to continue with WMATA"s voluntary dispute resolution process and requested to move forward with tiling a formal complaint against WMATA. Id. at 9.

         Plaintiff further alleges that on July 29. 2012. Amy Quillen, motivated by racial discrimination and in retaliation against Plaintiff for engaging in protected activities, such as tiling a WMATA internal complaint, conducted an unauthorized background check of Plaintiff. hi. Finally, on August 9. 2012. Plaintiff alleges that James Wynne discriminated against Plaintiff because of her sex when he denied Plaintiffs request for a formal charge of discrimination. id. Plaintiff tiled a charge with the EEOC regarding violations of her rights under Title VII and the ADA on August 28, 2012. Id. at 5.[6] On July 16. 2013. the EEOC reached a final decision in Plaintiffs case. id.

         On October 25. 2013. Plaintiff applied for the position of "Director of Customer Care" with WMATA. Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff states that she was "qualified to fill [the] position." hi. at 6. On October 28. 2013. Plaintiff was denied consideration for the position, allegedly in retaliation for her engagement in protected activities, including filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. filing an internal complaint with WMATA. and raising her discrimination concerns with her union. Id. at 6. Plaintiff further alleges that she was denied consideration based on her sex and race. id.

         Plaintiff filed an additional charge with the EEOC and was issued a right to sue letter on June 10. 2016. Id. at 1: see also ECF No. 1-1, [7]


         To survive a motion to dismiss invoking Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its foee.'"Ashcroji v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. r. Twomhly. 550 U.S. 544. 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility 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. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." hi. (citing Twomhly, 550 U.S. at 555) ("a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlefment) to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do.").

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)\s purpose "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) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). a court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, " and must "draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff." E.J. du Pont de Nemours &- Co, v. Kolon Indus.. Inc.. 637 F.3d 435. 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court need not. however, accept unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v. Charles County C'omm 'rs. 882 F.2d 870. 873 (4th Cir. 1989). legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Papasan v. Attain, 478 U.S. 265. 286 (1986). or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events. United Black Firefighters of Norfolk v. Hirst. 604 F.2d 844. 847 (4th Cir. 1979). Although pleadings of self-represented litigants must be accorded liberal construction, see Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147. 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). liberal construction does not mean a court can ignore a clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim, see Welter v. Dep't of Soc. Sens, .90] F.2d 387. 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         III. ...

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