United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John Robinson, who is self-represented, brought this action
against his former employer, the City of Hyattsville,
Maryland; the Hyattsville City Administrator, Tracey
Nicholson; and two supervisors at the Hyattsville Department
of Public Works. Robinson alleges that these supervisors,
Lesley Riddle and Mike Schmidl, engaged in a pattern of
harassment against him, which ultimately resulted in his
termination. Robinson has filed a Motion to Amend his
Complaint in order to assert three constitutional claims. ECF
No. 25. Also pending is Robinson's Motion to Extend
Discovery. ECF No. 28.
original Complaint, Robinson alleged that he was subjected to
discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, and age, as
well as unlawful retaliation, in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (2012), and the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29
U.S.C. §§ 621-634 (2012). He also alleged
violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution. Robinson later filed an Amended
Complaint, which appeared to assert only the Title VII and
Nicholson, Riddle, and Schmidl ("the Individual
Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims
asserted against them in the Amended Complaint on the basis
that neither Title VII nor the ADEA gives rise to claims
against individual supervisors. The Court granted that motion
and informed Robinson that if he wanted to assert any other
claims, including the constitutional claims asserted in his
original Complaint, he would have to file a Motion to Amend
the Complaint. Robinson then filed the pending Motion to
Amend, seeking to re-assert the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendment claims from his original Complaint, arguing that
his right to due process of law was violated by his
termination from public employment. He also seeks to assert a
new claim for a violation of his First Amendment right to
freedom of speech. The Defendants oppose the Motion, arguing
that Robinson's proposed amendments are futile.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), "[a] party may
amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days
after serving it, or if the pleading is one to which a
responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a
responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion
under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). "In all other cases, a party may
amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written
consent or the court's leave." Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). Rule 15 dictates that "[t]he court should
freely give leave when justice so requires."
Id. A proposed amendment, however, may be
"denied on the ground of futility when the proposed
amendment is clearly insufficient or frivolous on its
face." Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d
503, 510 (4th Cir. 1986).
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Claims
argues that he never intended to abandon the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendment claims that he asserted in his original
Complaint. Mot. to Amend at 1, ECF No. 25-1. He now seeks to
re-assert those claims in a Second Amended Complaint.
Although Robinson refers to these claims as "due
process" claims, because the Fifth Amendment due process
clause has been deemed to have an equal protection component,
United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744, 774 (2013),
the Court will liberally construe these pro se
allegations as seeking to add both equal protection and due
U.S.C. § 1983 makes liable "[e]very person"
who, under color of state law, deprives an individual of
constitutional rights. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012). Such
§ 1983 claims may be asserted against public officials
in their individual capacities only. See Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989).
Because courts should construe pleadings of self-represented
litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), the Court will construe Robinson's Motion
as an attempt to bring his constitutional claims against the
Individual Defendants in their individual capacities under
an equal protection claim against the Individual Defendants
would presumably be based on the same allegations of race,
color, age, and sex discrimination that underlie the Title
VII and ADEA claims that are already part of the case. The
Court will grant leave to amend to add such a claim. Because
the Individual Defendants are state and local officials, only
the Fourteenth Amendment, not the Fifth Amendment, applies.
Where Robinson failed to comply with Local Rule 103.6, which
requires litigants to attach a copy of their proposed amended
pleading to any motion to amend, Robinson will be required to
submit a Second Amended Complaint that includes all operative
allegations and claims.
due process, "[a] public employee who has been
terminated may bring a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging deprivation of either a property interest in
continued employment, or a liberty interest in his good
reputation and employability, or both, without due process of
law as provided by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution." Rogosin v. Mayor and City
Council of Bait., 197 F.Supp.2d 345, 353 (D. Md. 2002).
A property interest in public employment is created by state
statute, local ordinance, or contract. Bishop v.
Wood, 426 U.S. 341, 344 (1976); Board of Regents of
State Colls, v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 576-77 (1972)
("Property interests, of course, are not created by the
Constitution. Rather they are created and their dimensions
are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem
from an independent source such as state law-rules or
understandings that secure certain benefits and that support
claims of entitlement to those benefits."). A liberty
interest in one's continued good name and employability
arises when a state employer "impose[s] on [the
plaintiff] a stigma or other disability that foreclose[s] his
freedom to take advantage of other employment
opportunities." Roth, 408 U.S. at 573.
"For '(w)here a person's good name, reputation,
honor, or integrity is at stake because of what the
government is doing to him, notice and an opportunity to be
heard are essential.'" Id. (quoting
Wisconsin v. Constantineau, 400 U.S. 433,
has alleged that he was a public employee, that he had an
employment contract, and that the Individual Defendants
breached that contract. These allegations are sufficient, at
this stage, to show that Robinson is asserting a protected
property interest in his public employment with the City of
Hyattsville. The Court will therefore also allow him to amend