United States District Court, D. Maryland
MICHAEL J. STEVENSON
DOT TRANSPORTATION, INC.
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
Michael Stevenson filed this action alleging disability
discrimination in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA") and age discrimination in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
("ADEA) by his former employer, DOT Transportation, Inc.
("DOT") Specifically, he asserts he was terminated
because of his age and in spite of his requests for
reasonable accommodation of his disabilities. DOT has filed a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 8.)
The issues in this case have been fully briefed, and no
hearing is necessary. See Local R. 105.6. For the reasons
stated below, the motion will be granted.
Stevenson was hired by DOT as an Assistant Transportation
Manager on December 17, 2007. (Compl. ¶ 20, ECF No. 1.)
He identifies three disabilities of which DOT was allegedly
aware: a bladder condition disclosed on a questionnaire when
he was initially hired, a back injury obtained on the job
that he disclosed in July 2010,  and an infection contracted
in June 2011 that worsened the incontinence he suffered from
his bladder condition. (Id. ¶¶ 22-34.) Mr.
Stevenson states that DOT denied knowledge of any
disabilities in a letter to the EEOC dated October 21, 2014.
Stevenson claims his performance was satisfactory and
resulted in a promotion to Transportation Manager on an
unspecified date. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29.) In early
2012, Mr. Stevenson informed his supervisor that he intended
to retire in 2016. (Id. ¶ 42.) Later that year,
another driver informed Mr. Stevenson of an alleged plot to
"force him out of DOT since announcing his intent to
retire." (Id. ¶ 44-45.) In November 2012
two memos were issued by Mr. Stevenson's supervisor that
Mr. Stevenson claims indicate his job performance was
satisfactory. (Id. ¶¶48-51.) In early
2013, another memo was issued informing Mr. Stevenson that
his compensation would be reduced beginning in 2014, but
would remain unchanged in 2013. (Id. ¶¶
57-61.) In March 2013 DOT hired Dave Hess as a new
Transportation Manager. Mr. Stevenson was responsible for
onboarding him. (Id. ¶¶ 63-64.)
22, 2013, Mr. Stevenson was demoted to Transportation
Supervisor and his wages were reduced. (Id. ¶
69.) Mr. Stevenson was 57 years old, and his replacement was
37 years old. (Id. ¶ 70.) Mr. Stevenson
complained to his supervisor and human resources about his
demotion and reduction in pay. (Id. ¶ 72.) On
September 6, 2013, Mr. Stevenson was informed by his
supervisor that he "would need to be gone by the end of
2013" without further explanation. (Id.
¶¶ 74-75.) Mr. Stevenson was terminated on January
14, 2014. (Id. ¶ 76.)
Stevenson filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission alleging violations of the ADA and the ADEA on
August 13, 2014. (Id. ¶ 10.) After an
investigation, the EEOC dismissed Mr. Stevenson's
complaint on April 28, 2017. (Id. ¶ 13.) Mr.
Stevenson timely filed his complaint initiating this suit on
July 25, 2017. (Id. at 15.) On December 15, 2017,
DOT filed a motion to dismiss. Mr. Stevenson filed a response
in opposition on January 2, 2018, and DOT filed a reply on
January 19, 2018.
ruling on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must
"accept the well-pled allegations of the complaint as
true," and "construe the facts and reasonable
inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff." Ibarra v. United States, 120
F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). "Even though the
requirements for pleading a proper complaint are
substantially aimed at assuring that the defendant be given
adequate notice of the nature of a claim being made against
him, they also provide criteria for defining issues for trial
and for early disposition of inappropriate complaints."
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir.
2009). "The mere recital of elements of a cause of
action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not
sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6)." Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the
factual allegations of a complaint "must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations
omitted). "To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need
not 'forecast' evidence sufficient to prove the
elements of the claim. However, the complaint must allege
sufficient facts to establish those elements."
Walters, 684 F.3d at 439 (citation omitted).
"Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in
a complaint that the right to relief is 'probable,'
the Complaint must advance the plaintiffs claim 'across
the line from conceivable to plausible.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
ADEA prohibits an employer from "discharging] any
individual or otherwise discriminat[ing] against any
individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such
individual's age." 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1).
Where, as in this case, there is no direct evidence of
discrimination, such claims are analyzed under the
three-pronged burden-shifting framework set forth by the
Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,
411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under this framework, a plaintiff must
first make out a prima facie case of discrimination. See
Lettieri v. Equant Inc., 478 F.3d 640, 646 (4th Cir.
2007). The prima facie case, however, is not a pleading
requirement. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S.
506, 510 (2002); see also McCleary-Evans v. Md. Dep't
of Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th
Cir. 2015). Instead, the plaintiffs complaint must state a
plausible claim for relief under the ADEA-i.e., in this case,
that DOT fired Stevenson because of his age.
McCleary-Evans, 780 F.3d at 585.
legitimately considered on its own accord, one's
experience or seniority is typically not a basis for age
discrimination under the ADEA[.]" Davenport v. Anne
Arundel County Bd. of Educ, 998 F.Supp.2d 428, 434
(D.Md. 2014) "[T]here is no disparate treatment under
the ADEA when the factor motivating the employer is some
feature other than the employee's age." Hazen
Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604, 609 (1993) "The
ADEA is not violated when 'the motivating factor is
correlated with age, as pension status typically is.' The
same analysis applies to an employee who is fired because his
salary is too high, because salary, like pension status, is
often linked to seniority." Blistein v. St.
John's College, 860 F.Supp. 256, 264 (D. Md. 1994)
(quoting Hazen Paper Co., 507 U.S. at 611 (1993)).
Stevenson has failed to state a claim for age discrimination.
He was terminated and his replacement was younger than him,
but he has failed to identify any connection between his
firing and his age. Instead, he identifies an alleged plot to
force him out owing to his informing his supervisor of his
planned retirement. Like pension status and high salary,
planned retirement in itself is not a basis for age
discrimination, even if it may be correlated to one's
age. See Blistein, 860 F.Supp. at 264. Mr. Stevenson
claims that DOT's "stated reasons for [its] conduct
were not the true reasons, but instead were pretext."
but offers no support of this assertion.' (Compl. ¶
103.) Therefore, this claim will be dismissed.
Failure to Accommodate and ...