United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District judge
Ronald Bird ("Plaintiff or "Bird") brings this
lawsuit against Defendants Marine Terminals Corporation-East
("Marine Terminals") and International
Longshoreman's' Association - Local 333 ("Local
333") (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging
that Defendants discriminated against him during his
employment as a Longshoreman in violation of the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), as amended
42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Currently pending
before this Court is Marine Terminal's Motion to
Partially Dismiss the Complaint, or, Alternatively, for
Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) and Local 333's
Motion to Partially Dismiss Complaint, or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No.
14), which adopts and incorporates Marine Terminal's
arguments. The parties' submissions have been reviewed,
and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md. 2018). For the reasons stated herein, both Motions to
Dismiss (ECF Nos. 12, 14) are DENIED.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court "accept[s] as
true all well-pleaded facts in a complaint and construe[s]
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."
Wikimedia Found. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency, 857 F.3d
193, 208 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing SD3, LLC v. Black &
Decker (U.S.) Inc., 801 F.3d 412, 422 (4th Cir. 2015)).
In 2007, Martine Terminals hired Bird as a Longshoreman. (ECF
No. 2, at ¶ 11.) From about 2010 to June 26, 2013
Plaintiff was supervised by Surrender McKnight, a Local 333
union member employed by Defendant Marine Terminals.
(Id. at ¶ 14.) As a "Gang Carrier,"
McKnight led the union-led work group, or "gang,"
in which Plaintiff worked. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges
that McKnight harassed him daily based on his disability,
specifically his hearing impairment. (Id. at ¶
15.) In September 2011, Defendants began restricting
Plaintiffs work assignments to reduce his pay. (Id.
at ¶ 16.) For example, they refused to give Bird
"double-time" which would have doubled his hourly
rate of pay. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.) Instead,
Defendants allegedly allotted double-time to members in
McKnight's gang who did not have disabilities, despite
their lesser qualifications. (Id. at 18.)
19, 2013, Bird filed two identical Charges of Discrimination
with the EEOC against Marine Terminals and Local 333,
alleging that Surrender McKnight subjected him to
discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on his
hearing disability. (ECF Nos. 12-2, 14-2.) Subsequently, on
June 27, 2013, Bird transferred to Antwan Lemon's gang.
(ECF No. 2, at ¶ 24.) Lemon was also a Gang Carrier,
employed by Defendant Marine Terminal, and a member of Local
333. (Id.) Bird continued to encounter problems
under Lemon's supervision, where "double-time"
remained available only to employees without disabilities.
(Id. at ¶ 25.)
January 17, 2017 the EEOC issued a determination finding that
there was reasonable cause to believe that Bird had faced
discrimination and retaliation in violation of the ADA. (ECF
No. 12-3, at 2.) On March 20, 2018, Bird commenced this
action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland.
(ECF No. 2.) On May 4, 2018, Defendants removed the case to
Defendants have filed Motions to Partially Dismiss or, in the
alternative, Motions for Partial Summary Judgment based on
Plaintiffs alleged failure to exhaust his administrative
remedies with respect to his claims arising from his work on
the Lemon gang. (ECF Nos. 12, 14.) A district judge has
"complete discretion to determine whether or not to
accept the submission of any material beyond the pleadings
that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject
it or simply not consider it." Sagerv. How.
Com'n of Anne Arundel Cty., 855 F.Supp.2d 524, 542
(D. Md. 2012) (quoting 5C Wright. & Miller, Federal
Practice & Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004,
2011 Supp.)). Because this Court discerns no basis for
converting the Motion to one for Summary Judgment, the
Defendants' Motions (ECF Nos. 12, 14) will be construed
as Motions to Dismiss based on Plaintiffs failure to exhaust
motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative
remedies is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1), which requires dismissal when the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. Khotay v. Meserve, 268
F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003); Clarke v. DynCorp
Intern. LLC, 962 F.Supp.2d 781, 786 (D. Md. 2013). While
ruling on motion to dismiss, a court's evaluation is
generally limited to allegations contained in the complaint.
Gomes v. Calley Cmty. Servs. Bd, 822 F.3d 159,
166-67 (4th Cir. 2016). However, courts may also consider
documents explicitly incorporated into the complaint by
reference. Id. at 166 (citing Tellabs, Inc. v.
Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322, 127
S.Ct. 2499 (2007)). Accordingly, in ruling on Defendants'
Motions to Dismiss, this Court will consider Plaintiffs EEOC
Charge and related documents. See Borne v. Univ. of
Maryland Med. Sys., No. ELH-14-03216, 2015 WL 1499465,
at *3 n.4 (D. Md. Mar. 31, 2015) ("Courts commonly
consider EEOC charges as integral to a plaintiffs Complaint,
i.e., effectively a part of the pleading, even if
the EEOC charge is not filed with the Complaint"
seek to dismiss Bird's claims arising after his transfer
to the Lemon gang on June 27, 2013. They argue that these
claims have not been subject to the ADA's administrative
exhaustion! requirements because Bird did not mention the
Lemon gang in his EEOC Charges. (ECF Nos. 12-1, 14-1.) Title
I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in employment,
adopts the administrative exhaustion requirements found in
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title
VII"). Magness v. Harford County, ELH-16-2970,
2018 WL 1505792, at *9-10 (D. Md. March 27, 2018).
Accordingly, before bringing an ADA discrimination claim in
federal or state court, a plaintiff must meet certain
statutory requirements. First, a plaintiff must file a
"charge" of discrimination with the EEOC or
appropriate agency before proceeding to court. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2OOOe-5(e)(1). The charge must be filed within a
specified time "after the alleged unlawful employment
practice occurred." Id. In Maryland, a deferral
state,  a Title VII claim of discrimination must
be filed with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged
discriminatory action. EEOC charge
Ventures, 244 F.3d 334, 338 n.l (4th Cir. 2001).
Finally, a plaintiffs suit is limited to the grounds asserted
in the underlying EEOC charge. Jones v. Calvert Group,
Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th Cir. 2009).
to exhaust administrative remedies deprives this Court of
subject matter jurisdiction over the claims. Jones v.
Calvert Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th Cir. 2009).
Accordingly, this Court must dismiss a discrimination lawsuit
if the plaintiff has not exhausted the required
administrative remedies before bringing suit. Chacko v.
Patuxent Institution, 429 F.3d 505, 508-09 (4th Cir.
2005). The exhaustion requirement ensures that the charged
party receives notice of the claims it faces.
Chacko, 429 F.3d at 510. A subsequent lawsuit thus
must limit its claims to those included in the administrative
charge and those "reasonably related" to the claims
described in the administrative charge. Evans v. Techs.
Applications & Servs. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 962-63 (4th
Cir. 1996). Accordingly, administrative charges which
reference "different time frames, actors, and
discriminatory conduct than the central factual
allegations" in a civil complaint do not satisfy the
administrative exhaustion requirements. Chacko, 429
F.3d at 506. The administrative exhaustion requirements,
however, should not set "a tripwire for hapless
plaintiffs." Sydnor v. Fairfax County, 681 F.3d
591, 594 (4th Cir. 2012).
administrative charges contain the same allegations found in
this lawsuit. Before the EEOC, Bird complained that McKnight
was harassing him daily; that the harassment continued even
after filing grievances; and that he had been denied
"seniority" and assigned 'perform disfavored
job tasks. (ECF Nos. 12, 14.) The Complaint merely adds that
he continued to face unfair treatment while working for
Lemon. Specifically, it alleges that Defendants denied him
"double-time" under McKnight's supervision and
that that Defendants continued to withhold this benefit while
he worked under Lemon. (14 at ¶ 16, 18, 25). As ...