United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR CHIEF JUDGE.
Xiao-Ying Yu was fired from the Maryland Department of
Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control
(“CCDPC”) on November 3, 2014. Just over three
years later, she filed this lawsuit, pro se, on
November 6, 2017, naming as Defendants the Secretary of the
Maryland Department of Health,  and the Secretary of the Maryland
Department of Budget and Management. She alleged,
essentially, that she was discriminated against and
retaliated against when she worked at CCDPC. Defendants moved
to dismiss on January 3, 2018. (ECF No. 6.) After Plaintiff
responded in opposition (ECF No. 20) and Defendant replied
(ECF No. 23), Plaintiff obtained counsel, and was given an
opportunity to file a supplemental opposition (see
ECF No. 29). Plaintiff availed herself of that opportunity
(see Supp. Opp'n, ECF No. 30) and Defendants
have replied to that paper (ECF No. 31). Defendants'
motion is therefore fully briefed and ripe for review. There
is no need to hold a hearing to resolve the matter.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Plaintiff's
complaint fails under Rule 8 to provide a short and plain
statement of her claims. Nevertheless, the Court considered
her possible claims, including those asserted by her new
counsel, and they fail for a variety of reasons, including
failure to properly exhaust administrative remedies and
because Defendants are immune.
a woman of Chinese national origin over sixty years old,
began working for CCDPC on November 4, 2009, as an
Epidemiologist. Starting in 2010 she was given increased
job responsibilities for which she was not compensated
properly. She was told she would be promoted, but her HR
application process stalled, largely because various
supervisors sabotaged that process. Plaintiff reserves most
of her complaints for a particular supervisor, Ms. Sara
Barry. Ms. Barry promoted a younger, white woman instead of
Plaintiff. She often baselessly reprimanded Plaintiff for
going outside the chain of command, and prevented Plaintiff
from making complaints. Ms. Barry tampered with some type of
HR document, an “MS-22, ” that was supposed to
reflect Plaintiff's employment background. Ms. Barry
deleted projects from the MS-22 that Plaintiff had worked on,
or changed information about Plaintiff's skills in order
to set Plaintiff up for failure. Ms. Barry amended
Plaintiff's self-evaluations from
“outstanding” to “satisfactory” and
placed negative material in Plaintiff's HR file, all out
of retaliation for Plaintiff's complaints about Ms.
Barry. Ms. Barry tried to prevent Plaintiff from receiving an
award, mischaracterized Plaintiff's work contributions,
and interfered with Plaintiff's access to databases and
suffered deteriorating health due the harassment and
retaliation she faced at work. She was evaluated by a doctor
who worked for the State Medical Director's Office, and
he seemed to think that Plaintiff suffered from workplace
stress, anxiety disorder, and depression. (See Am.
Compl. Ex. 28, ECF No. 4-1.) At some point, Plaintiff
requested an accommodation for her disability. Plaintiff does
not clearly allege what her disability is, but it appears to
be essentially workplace stress and anxiety, and her
requested accommodation seems to have been not working under
Ms. Barry. This accommodation request was denied. Ultimately,
Plaintiff was terminated from her position on November 3,
filed two Charges of Discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). On November 12,
2013, Plaintiff asserted a charge of age and race
discrimination. (Am. Compl. pp. 5-6.) Plaintiff was granted a
right-to-sue letter fourteen days later, on November 26,
2013. Plaintiff “did not file the lawsuit.”
(Id. p. 6.) Plaintiff filed a second Charge of
Discrimination on September 3, 2014. (Id. p. 10.) It
is unclear from Plaintiff's complaint what the substance
of this Charge was. She does not allege that she received a
filed the instant action on November 6, 2017. She named
Dennis Schrader, Secretary of the Maryland Department of
Health, and David Brinkley, Secretary of the Maryland
Department of Budget and Management, as Defendants.
(Plaintiff does not allege that she ever worked for the
Maryland Department of Budget and Management). Plaintiff
filed her Complaint pro se and filed an amended
complaint pro se. Several months after Defendants
moved to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint Plaintiff
engaged counsel, who then began to represent her. Counsel
continues to represent her now, and through that counsel she
has filed a supplemental opposition to Defendants' motion
to dismiss. Plaintiff has not moved to amend her complaint a
the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 12(b)(1), and 12(b)(6).
The standards for reviewing complaints under those rules are
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
Federal Rules require that a complaint contain a “short
and plain statement” of the grounds for the Court's
jurisdiction and the claim, and “a demand for the
relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). “Short and
plain” means short and plain. The Court does not look
for technical forms, magic words, and legal jargon. What
matters here is notice: “In general, a pleading must
provide the defendant and the court with fair notice of what
the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Jackson v. Experian Fin. Servs., Civ.
No. RDB-13-1758, 2014 WL 794360, at *1 (D. Md. Feb. 26, 2014)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Courts hold pro
se litigants “to less stringent standards than
trained lawyers, ” and courts afford a pro se
complaint a “generous construction.” Engle v.
U.S., 736 F.Supp. 670, 671 (D. Md. 1989). But
“these principles are not without limits.”
Id. at 672. “A plaintiff's status as
pro se does not absolve her of the duty to plead
adequately.” Moore v. Bd. of Educ. of Baltimore
Cty., Civ. No. RDB-16-3439, 2017 WL 3172820, at *4 (D.
Md. July 25, 2017).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
burden of proving subject-matter jurisdiction is on the
plaintiff. Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th
Cir. 1982). At this stage, “it is the court's task
to evaluate whether the pleadings allege[ ] facts that
affirmatively and plausibly suggest” that the Court has
jurisdiction. Piper v. Meade & Assocs., Inc.,
282 F.Supp.3d 905, 907 (D. Md. 2017) (discussing standing).
That is, the Court will take all allegations in
Plaintiff's complaint as true, and determine whether they
are sufficient to establish subject-matter jurisdiction.
See 5B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (3d. ed.
Apr. 2018 Update) (“A facial attack challenges subject
matter jurisdiction without disputing the facts alleged in
the complaint and requires the court to treat the allegations
of the complaint as true.”).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
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)). An
inference of a mere possibility of misconduct is not
sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at 679.
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.