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Reedjoseph-Minkins v. DC Government Dept of Youth Rehabilitation Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 20, 2018

ATHRYN E. REEDJOSPEPH-MINKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
DC GOVERNMENT DEPT OF YOUTH REHABILITATION SERVICES et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELLEN LIPTON HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this employment discrimination case, the self-represented plaintiff, Athryn E. Reedjoseph-Minkins, has sued her employer, the DC Government Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (the “Department” or “DC DYRS”), two of her supervisors, Clinton Lacey and Linda Harlee Harper, and a human resources staff member, Arnita Evans. ECF 1. Plaintiff alleges that she suffered discrimination on the basis of her sex (female) and disability (“PTSD, Anxiety, Incontinence Issues [], Diabetic, [and] Depression”), as well as retaliation. Id. at 5. Suit is founded on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 to 12117. ECF 1 at 4.

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), defendants have moved to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety, on the grounds that plaintiff's claims are untimely, unexhausted, and brought against improper parties. ECF 16. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 16-1) (collectively, “Motion”). Defendants also submitted plaintiff's Charge of Discrimination, filed with the Maryland Commission on Human Rights (“MCHR”). ECF 16-2 (“Charge”). Plaintiff opposes the Motion. ECF 23 (“Opposition”). Defendants replied. ECF 24 (“Reply”).

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

         A.

         Plaintiff works as a correctional officer for the Department. ECF 1-3 (Claim Narrative) at 1. She alleges that she is a disabled veteran. ECF 1 at 5. Further, plaintiff alleges that she suffers from incontinence, diabetes, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), anxiety, and depression. Id.

         The Complaint alleges that plaintiff began her employment with the District of Columbia government in 2004. ECF 1-3 at 1. At that time, she submitted a questionnaire to her employer stating that she suffered from PTSD, and also had physical disabilities stemming from unspecified injuries sustained while on active duty. Id.

         Plaintiffs first assignment with the Department was to Oak Hill Youth Center, where she worked from 2004 to 2009. Id. According to plaintiff, while working there, she was consistently harassed and threatened, and was refused restroom breaks and lunch breaks for up to eight hours. Id. The inability to use the restroom often caused plaintiff to urinate or defecate on herself at work. Id. Plaintiff alleges that she filed a complaint with the “Maryland EEOC” in July 2012, but that the human resources staff worked to “discredit” her. Id. According to plaintiff, a human resources representative “stated that [plaintiff] did not need to file [a complaint] because it was going to be turned down.” Id.

         Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to another work location in Washington, DC, which required her to commute almost three hours each way. ECF 1-3 at 1. At this location, called “Youth Services Center, ” plaintiff was sexually harassed by a co-worker who, among other transgressions, “came up behind [her] and started humping [her] and saying that he was going to put his ‘DICK' on [her] leg.” Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff alleges that she informed a supervisor of the co-worker's behavior. Id. at 2. The supervisor “stated to file another complaint but to file with the DC EEOC.” Id.

         Thereafter, plaintiff was reassigned to a facility located in Maryland called “New Beginnings, ” where she was assigned to “the Midnight tour.” Id. There, she claims that she continued to be harassed by her co-workers. Id. In particular, plaintiff alleges that during her shift her co-workers showed “[s]exually explicit movies depicting Gang Rapes”. Id. Plaintiff allegedly filed another EEOC complaint in July 2014, and was assigned to a different shift. Id.

         Apparently, plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident in August 2014 while on the way to work. Id. In early 2015, she requested “light duty” pursuant to her doctor's recommendation. Id. Her request was allegedly denied, and plaintiff was told that “the Agency did not provide LIGHT DUTY.” Id. However, plaintiff alleges that she later “noticed that several of [her] co-workers were allowed light duty positions.” Id.

         According to plaintiff, she continues to be harassed by her co-workers, and is still sometimes denied lunch and restroom breaks. Id. at 1. On her Complaint form, plaintiff alleges that she was “[n]ot allowed to use [the] restroom, . . . . [n]ot allowed lunch breaks . . . and [was] held over for up to an hour and not paid overtime.” ECF 1 at 7. And, she indicates that she was “refused medical treatment from workman's comp.” Id. at 5.

         Plaintiff also alleges that her “vehicle was scratched up” and that her request “to pull the camera footage for the time of the incident” was refused. ECF 1-3 at 2. It is unclear whether or how this allegation is related to plaintiff's other claims.

         B.

         Plaintiff filed suit on January 6, 2017. ECF 1. Her claims are detailed on a form complaint (ECF 1), as well as an attached letter narrating the claims. ECF 1-3. Additionally, plaintiff submitted voluminous unmarked exhibits, including emails between plaintiff and her co-workers and incident reports concerning events loosely related to her claims. These documents were not posted to ECF. See ECF 1-4 (Filed Separately Sheet). Plaintiff also submitted a “Right to Sue” letter from the EEOC, dated November 8, 2016. ECF 1-2. The letter and accompanying documentation relate to EEOC Charge No. 570-2014-01768. Id. at 1, 2, 6.

         Plaintiff did not attach the Charge to her Complaint. However, a Charge completed by plaintiff and submitted by defendants with their Motion is labeled 570-2014-01768. ECF 16-2 at 2. That Charge was filed on March 25, 2015. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges in her Complaint that she filed EEOC charges on “several different dates, ” including “9/01/2016” and “5/28/2016.” However, she has provided no documentation of any submissions on these dates, and the Right to Sue letter she received corresponds only to the March 25, 2015 charge of discrimination. Therefore, I shall consider that EEOC complaint to be the predicate charge for purposes of administrative exhaustion.

         The Charge discusses some, but not all, of the allegations in the Complaint. It indicates that the alleged discrimination occurred between October 1, 2013, and July 31, 2014. ECF 16-2 at 2. However, plaintiff also checked the box indicating a “continuing action.” Id.

         In the “particulars” section of the Charge, plaintiff stated, in relevant part, id. at 1-2:

Beginning in October 2013, while assigned to the Washington DC location [of DC DYRS], I was told by SYDR[2] J. Chamberlain that I was not allowed to use the bathrooms at the New Beginnings location because I had been transferred. I was later told by SYDR S. Dowell, SYDR S. Johnson, and SYRD G. Johnson-Bye that I was not allowed to use the bathroom while on duty, which caused problems with my disability. Beginning in October 2013, I began to be sexually harassed by Demetrius Jackson. Mr. Jackson started asking me questions about my breasts and stated that he wanted to date me. He also offered me $300 for sex several times. I complained to James Lester (Deputy Superintendent), but nothing was done to resolve the matter. On December 25, 2013, I was forces [sic] to work a 17.5 hour shift without any breaks which caused problems with my disability. On January 12, 2014, Mr. Jackson came up behind me and stated “I am going to put my dick your leg [sic].” I reported this to Superintendent Willie Fulilove. I began to be harassed by C. Wilborne and T Matthews with threats of harm and intimidation. C. Wilborne told the male residents on B200 to tell PDS[3] that I was allowing them to feel my body and this was reported. On January 26, 2014, I was transferred back to the Laurel location. I continued to receive harassing phone calls to my home from D. Jackson with heavy breathing and laughing. Beginning in February 2014, William Raper, Arvin Webb, and Mr. Hasaan Shahid began to show movies with strong sexual content and gang rapes. I requested to have the movies turned off and complained to Julius Layton (Night Supervisor), Union VP Y Ward and Shop Steward R Miller to no avail. After I complained about the movies, I started being harassed by Tasha Williams, Melinda Simms and Jennifer Ratliff-Unit Manager whom [sic] stated that she wanted me to search the residents [sic] rooms while they were asleep at night which is against the Agency's Policy and Procedures.

         It does not appear that plaintiff amended her Charge to add more dates or additional allegations.

         II. Standards of Review

         As noted, defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ECF 16. However, defendants also seek to dismiss plaintiffs claims as unexhausted. ECF 16-1 at 16. If true, this would deprive the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. See Balas v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401, 406 (4th Cir. 2013). Therefore, I shall construe the Motion as one under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), as well.

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         A challenge to a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction is reviewed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Demetres v. East West Const, Inc., 776 F.3d 271, 272 (4th Cir. 2015); see also Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). A test of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may proceed “in one of two ways”: either a facial challenge, asserting that the allegations pleaded in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting “‘that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true.'” Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted); accord Durden v. United States, 736 F.3d 296, 300 (4th Cir. 2013). A factual challenge can also assert that facts outside the four corners of the complaint preclude the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction. Id.

         Defendants bring a factual challenge because they argue that plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under Title VII and the ADA. ECF 5-1 at 8. Defendants argue that the failure to exhaust deprives the Court of subject matter jurisdiction as to these claims. Id.

         In considering a factual challenge, “the district court is entitled to decide disputed issues of fact with respect to subject matter jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In that circumstance, the court “may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Velasco v. Gov't of Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); see also United States ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 347-48 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Unless ‘the jurisdictional facts are intertwined with the facts central to the merits of the dispute, ' the district court may . . . resolve the jurisdictional facts in dispute by considering evidence . . . such as affidavits.”) (Citation omitted).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         A defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In re Birmingham,846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd,822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli,616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. McBurney v. Young,569 U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the facts ...


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