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Wuenschel v. Kristoff

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 8, 2017

ROBERT WUENSCHEL, Plaintiff
v.
PAUL KRISTOFF, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          James K. Bredar United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, a teacher formerly employed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore (“the Archdiocese”), [1] commenced the instant action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland, alleging age discrimination, wrongful termination, false light, slander, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring. (Compl., ECF No. 2.) Defendants removed the case to this Court (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1), and now move to dismiss (ECF No. 9). That motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe. (ECF Nos. 14, 15.) No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion will be granted.

         A. STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL

         A motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies is governed by Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003), aff'd, 85 F. App'x 960 (4th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). On such a motion, a court may look beyond the pleadings to view evidence submitted on the issue and to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists. Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). The plaintiff has the burden of proving that jurisdiction is proper. Id.

         In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted, 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.

         B. BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff alleges that he was employed by the Archdiocese as a teacher (and at times as acting principal) for a total of 41 years, with the majority of his employment having been at St. Michael the Archangel School, and that he received positive evaluations throughout his employment. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 2, 16.) He alleges that during or about the 2014-2015 school year, he applied to be principal of St. Michael the Archangel School, but that Defendant Kristoff was instead awarded the position, this in spite of the facts that Kristoff applied after the application deadline elapsed and after having been discharged from his previous employment for cause. (Id. ¶¶ 6-8.)

         Later, the Archdiocese decided to merge St. Michael the Archangel School with another school, to be effective at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. (Id. ¶ 9.) To determine which teaching staff would continue in the newly-merged school, the Archdiocese re-interviewed all faculty at both schools. (Id.) It did not offer Plaintiff a position, and Defendant Kristoff explained that this decision was based on Plaintiffs lack of teaching certification. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) Plaintiff alleges that other similarly-situated teachers were offered contracts contingent upon their eventual certification, and that his offer to similarly work toward obtaining certification was rejected by the Archdiocese. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiff further alleges that “the conduct of the defendants was 'published'” to parents and faculty. (Id. ¶ 15.)

         C. ANALYSIS

         Because there is no evidence that Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies, this Court lacks jurisdiction under the ADEA to hear his claim for age discrimination. None of Plaintiffs other causes of action state facially plausible claims for relief. Therefore, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.

         1. Count I: Age Discrimination

         The ADEA prohibits an employer from discriminating on the basis of age. 29 U.S.C. § 623(a) (2017). The act gives an employee claiming age discrimination the right to bring a civil action, provided that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has not already filed suit on the employee's behalf. 29 U.S.C. § 626(c) (2017). To provide the EEOC the opportunity to do so, an employee wishing to file a civil action must first file a timely charge of discrimination with the EEOC and then wait at least sixty days before commencing the civil suit. 29 U.S.C. § 626(d) (2017). A plaintiff's failure to follow the administrative requirements prescribed by statute deprives the court of subject matter jurisdiction. Jones v. Calvert Grp., Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300-01 (4th Cir. 2009).

         Without citing law in support, Plaintiff asserts that parties to ADEA suits may waive all administrative process and implies that the administrative process serves only a dilatory purpose. (Resp. 1, [3] ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff misconstrues the statute. The plain meaning of the ADEA does not contemplate the possibility of waiver of notice to the EEOC, only waiver of rights or claims by the employee. 29 U.S.C. § 626 (2017). Furthermore, Plaintiff acknowledges the fact that, even if they had the ability to do so, Defendants have not agreed to waive any administrative process. (Resp. 1-2.) Because Plaintiff never filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the discrimination claim. Defendants' motion to dismiss Count I will therefore be granted.

         2. ...


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