United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rennae Elizabeth Ott (“plaintiff” or
“Ott”) brings this action against her former
employer, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and
Correctional Services (“defendant” or
“DPSCS”), alleging violations of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §
12101, et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
(“Rehabilitation Act”), 29 U.S.C. § 709,
et seq. (ECF No. 1.) Specifically, Ott alleges that
she was subjected to a hostile work environment and
wrongfully terminated on account of her post-traumatic stress
disorder (“PTSD”) disability. She also alleges
that DPSCS failed to accommodate her disability and that she
was retaliated against for opposing DPSCS's
pending before this Court is DPSCS's Motion to Dismiss
and, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Defendant's Motion”). (ECF No. 9.) The
parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 9) is GRANTED based on the applicable
two-year statute of limitations on disability employment
discrimination claims under Maryland law. See Md.
Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-1013(a)(3); Semenova
v. Maryland Transit Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 568 (4th Cir.
reviewing a Motion to Dismiss, this Court “must accept
as true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint” and must “draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” E.I. du Pont
de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d
435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (internal citations omitted).
Rennae Ott was an employee at the Easton, Maryland office of
the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional
Services (“DPSCS”) from June 4, 2008 until March
6, 2014. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 7, 59.) Ms. Ott worked as
a parole and probation agent and received positive
evaluations and was promoted during her tenure at DPSCS.
(Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.) In 2010, Ott developed
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) after
learning that her daughter was one of over one hundred
children who had been sexually abused by Dr. Earl Bradley,
her daughter's pediatrician. (Id. at
¶¶ 10-12.) Despite her PTSD, Ott continued to work
for DPSCS as a parole and probation agent. (Id. at
certain of Ott's co-workers learned of the horrific abuse
which Ott's daughter had suffered, they inexplicably and
rudely began to taunt Ott, triggering Ott's PTSD and
causing her significant anxiety. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶
17-33.) Ott's co-workers then began to mock her on
account of her PTSD, leading Ott to file a complaint with
DPSCS's Office of Equal Opportunity (“OEO”).
(Id. at ¶¶ 34-36.) On July 12, 2013, the
OEO found probable cause that Ott had been harassed on the
basis of her disability. (Id. at ¶ 40.) As her
PTSD had worsened, she was granted a medical leave of absence
beginning on July 15, 2013. (Id. at ¶ 42.)
Ott no longer appeared for work after July 15, 2013, over the
ensuing eight months, she underwent a series of medical and
mental health evaluations, apparently at the request of
DPSCS, in order to determine her fitness to return to work.
(ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 46-56.) In addition, Ott met with
DPSCS officials in order to request a transfer to another
DPSCS office where she would not be under the supervision of
Mr. Killmon, her supervisor, who had ignored the abuse by her
co-workers and who had taken adverse employment actions
against her based on her OEO complaint. (Id. at
¶¶ 56-59.) When DPSCS refused to accommodate
Ott's request, she resigned on March 6, 2014.
(Id. at ¶ 59.)
December 14, 2013, while still on medical leave, Ott filed a
Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (ECF No. 1 at
¶ 3; ECF No. 15-1 at 3-4.) Following its investigation,
on August 13, 2015, the EEOC issued its Determination that
there was reasonable cause to believe Ms. Ott was subjected
to harassment by DPSCS on account of her disability and that
DPSCS retaliated against her for engaging in protected
activity under the ADA. (Id.) Ott did not file suit
at that time. One month later, on September 17, 2015, the
EEOC referred Ott's Charge of Discrimination to the Civil
Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.
(Id.) After nearly one year, on July 26, 2016, the
Civil Rights Division declined to file suit on Ott's
behalf and issued her a Notice of Right to Sue.
(Id.) Over two months later, on October 10, 2016,
Ott filed her Complaint in this Court. (ECF No. 1.)
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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). 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); see also Goines v.
Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir.
2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which
provides that 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). To survive a
motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain
facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl., Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). In reviewing a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, 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.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs.,
Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015).
defendant invoking the statute of limitations asserts an
affirmative defense under Rule 8(c). It is well-established
that courts generally do not “resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses” through a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231,
243 (4th Cir.1999). However, “in the relatively rare
circumstances where facts sufficient to rule on an
affirmative defense are alleged in the complaint, the defense
may be reached by a motion to dismiss filed under Rule
12(b)(6).” Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d
458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007). See Semenova v. Maryland
Transit Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017).
Plaintiff's Claims Under the Americans with Disabilities
Act Are ...