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Davidson v. Sarnova, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 17, 2017

SARNOVA, INC., Defendant.


          James K. Bredar, Chief Judge

         Karen Davidson (“Plaintiff”) filed suit against Sarnova, Inc. (“Defendant”), her former employer, alleging, inter alia, that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of disability and retaliated against her for seeking an accommodation for her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”), Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-1001 et seq. Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's post-discharge retaliation claims. (ECF No. 14.) The Court granted the motion and dismissed those claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 23.) Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Reconsideration and/or for Clarification of the Order Dismissing Plaintiff's Post-Discharge Retaliation Claims. (ECF No. 25.) The issues have been briefed (ECF Nos. 25 & 31), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons explained below, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration will be DENIED, but she will be GRANTED LEAVE to file an amended complaint.

         I. Background[1]

         The relevant background is largely set forth in the Court's previous order granting Defendant's motion for partial dismissal. (ECF No. 23.) In her original complaint, Plaintiff alleged that she was terminated by Defendant in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity under the ADA and FEPA-namely, seeking a reasonable accommodation for her purported disability. Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint in which she alleged for the first time that Defendant engaged in multiple post-discharge acts of retaliation against her. Again, Plaintiff contended that this retaliation was in response to her seeking a reasonable accommodation for her disability while she was still employed by Defendant. The Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss these new, post-discharge retaliation claims because Plaintiff had failed to administratively exhaust them.

         In granting Defendant's motion, the Court expressly rejected Plaintiffs argument that her retaliation claim fell under an exception to the ADA's administrative exhaustion requirement. That exception, which applies to claims arising out of retaliatory action taken in response to the filing of an administrative complaint, was not implicated by Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint, which alleged that Defendant's retaliatory action was taken in response to Plaintiffs request for a reasonable accommodation. Plaintiff now seeks to amend her complaint, apparently in an attempt to remedy this deficiency.

         Plaintiff seeks to add the following allegations regarding Defendant's purported post-discharge conduct to her complaint:

• Plaintiff signed her charges to the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (DCOHR) on June 16, 2015.
• Plaintiffs administrative charge of retaliation remained pending until the date that the EEOC adopted the findings of DCOHR and provided notice of suit rights on or about Nov. 18, 2016.
• In April 2015, POM Medical LLC began discussions with Plaintiff on how Defendant had handled its products.
• In April 2015, POM Medical LLC was interested in Plaintiffs skills and experience to employ her or otherwise contract for her services.
• Negotiations were very strong and continued until July 6, 2015, at which time the company informed her that it would be imminently meeting with and signing regional distributors.
• After July 6, 2015, POM Medical LLC completely refused to communicate with Plaintiff.
• Plaintiff is aware that Defendant Sarnova has made false and defamatory statements that Plaintiff was other than a competent and successful employee, that Plaintiff had committed fraud, had taken action with the intention that these statements be made to others in the industry, and had issued a no contact order with threats to employees.
• Upon information and belief, Defendant Sarnova communicated with POM Medical LLC within days after being notified of the administrative charges and within weeks after Plaintiff had filed her administrative charges and Defendant Sarnova provided this same false and defamatory information to POM Medical LLC.

(ECF No. 25, Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Recons., at 3-4.)

         In addition, Plaintiff wishes to add to her complaint a claim for tortious interference with economic relations against Defendant based on Defendant's alleged interference with her job discussions with POM Medical. In support of this entirely new claim, plaintiff sets forth the following allegations:

• Plaintiff would have provided competitive services to POM Medical LLC or otherwise reduced the need for Defendant ...

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