United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Silvester Woods, pro se, filed this action stemming
from the events surrounding his brief employment with and
termination by Defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority (“WMATA”). Am. Compl., ECF No. 19.
Defendant WMATA moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint for
lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. ECF No.
20. Defendant Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689 moved to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. ECF No.
Because this Court lacks jurisdiction over many of the claims
in the Amended Complaint and because Plaintiff has failed to
state a claim for those over which this Court does have
jurisdiction, Defendants' Motions are GRANTED.
Accordingly, given that Plaintiff already had the opportunity
to amend, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with
10, 2018, Plaintiff Silvester Woods, an African American
male, accepted an offer of employment with Defendant WMATA as
a Student MetroBus Operator, a full-time paid trainee
position. ECF No. 19-3 at 4. This position was covered by a
collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) with
Defendant ATU, Local 689. Id. at 2-3. In addition to
several other conditions of employment, the collective
bargaining agreement required Woods to complete a
probationary period before receiving a final offer letter and
allowed for WMATA to “discipline or discharge [Woods]
without right of appeal” during that period.
Id. at 2. This was not Woods's first employment
as a bus operator; he possessed a Commercial Driver's
License and previously worked for First Transit, Inc. as a
Bus Operator for 10 years. Am. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 19.
Currently, he works as a Bus Operator for Fairfax Connector.
Id. ¶ 8.
23, 2018, Woods began his training as a Student Metro Bus
Operator at WMATA's Carmen Turner Facility. Id.
¶ 6. During training, Woods tried to follow Instructor
Louis Rucker's directions, but Rucker would challenge his
operator experience and give him unclear directions, trying
to confuse him. Id. ¶ 12. Moreover, Woods and
Rucker “did not agree on how work should be
done.” EEOC Charge at 3, ECF No. 19-5. When Rucker
yelled at another employee and made them cry, Woods chose not
to speak up and correct Rucker in fear of losing his job but
did report the incident to the Director of Bus Training,
Dylan Wolfe, who told Woods to accept the instructor's
behavior “in order to keep his job.” Am. Compl.
¶¶ 10-11. Not only would Rucker yell at the other
employee, he also “would insult, degrade, and verbally
attack” Woods, attempting to intimidate him.
Id. ¶ 12. Woods's issues with Rucker
continued, leading Woods to explain to Rucker that he could
be “sued if his attacks were malicious and
intentional.” Id. ¶ 13.
issues came to a climax on August 3, 2018. While on the bus
training, Rucker reported that Woods refused to operate the
bus, got out of the operator's seat, and told Rucker to
“Do it your dam self.” ECF No. 19-2 at 2. Woods
then took out his cell phone and began using it before Rucker
reminded him of WMATA's Electronic Device Policy
prohibiting such conduct. Id. Then, when the bus
returned to the training facility, Woods exited the bus prior
to being released but was stopped by Rucker and another
instructor. Id. Woods was then directed to wait in
the Administrative Office to meet with management.
Id. There, Director Wolfe and Anthony Dawson,
Supervisor of Bus Training, met with Woods regarding the
incident and Woods admitted to the conduct reported by Rucker
but noted he was talking to himself and not being
disrespectful or discourteous. Id.; ECF No. 19-4 at
3. Citing Woods for “unprofessional conduct unbecoming
of a Professional Bus Operator while in Bus Training and
violating WMATA's Electronic Device Policy, ” WMATA
terminated Woods effective August 3, 2018. ECF No. 19-2 at
2-3. While his separation paperwork was being compiled, Woods
informed Wolfe and Dawson that he was a certified paralegal.
ECF No. 19-4 at 3.
then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, alleging discrimination in violation of Title VII
and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. ECF No.
19-5 at 3. The EEOC declined to prosecute and issued Woods a
“Right to Sue” letter on August 14, 2018.
Id. at 2. On August 27, 2018, Woods contacted ATU
Local 689 requesting it to file a Title VII grievance on his
behalf, a request which was denied. ECF No. 19-4 at 2-4; Am.
Compl. ¶ 22.
filed this lawsuit on November 13, 2018, followed by an
Amended Complaint on January 10, 2019. ECF Nos. 1, 19. In
accordance with this Court's Letter Order setting
deadlines for further motions, ECF No. 17, WMATA filed its
Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on January 29, 2019, ECF No.
20, and the ATU filed its Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) on February 5, 2019, ECF No. 22.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) challenges a
court's authority to entertain a suit on grounds of
subject matter jurisdiction. The burden of establishing the
court's subject matter jurisdiction rests with the
plaintiff. See Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d
642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). The district court should grant the
motion “only if the material jurisdictional facts are
not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as
a matter of law.” Balfour Beatty Infrastructure,
Inc. v. Mayor & City of Council of Balt., 855 F.3d
247, 251 (4th Cir. 2017) (quoting Evans, 166 F.3d at
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) provides for
“the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Velencia
v. Drezhlo, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176754, *10-*11 (D.
Md. Dec. 13, 2012). This rule's purpose “is to test
the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)). To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim for
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009). Where, as here, the plaintiff has filed a pleading
without the aid of counsel, the court must construe the
pleading liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94)2007) (per curiam); White v. White, 886. F.2d
721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989). Liberal construction, though,
does not mean a court may overlook a clear failure in the
pleading to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim.
See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d
387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678-79. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
when a defendant moves to dismiss a complaint under Rule
12(b)(6), courts are limited to considering the sufficiency
of allegations set forth in the complaint and the
‘documents attached or incorporated into the
complaint.'” Zak v. Chelsea Therapeutics
Int'l, Ltd., 780 F.3d 597, 606 (4th Cir. 2015)
(quoting E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon
Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 448 (4th Cir. 2011). Where, as
here, a plaintiff has attached exhibits to the complaint,
these exhibits are considered part of the pleading. See
Fayetteville Inv'rs v. Commercial Builders, Inc.,
936 F.2d 1462, 1465 (4th Cir. 1991); Bryant v. Wash. Mut.
Bank, 524 F.Supp.2d 753, 757 n.4 (W.D. Va. 2007),
aff'd, 282 Fed.Appx. 260 (4th Cir. 2008).
“'[t]he determination whether to dismiss with or
without prejudice under Rule 12(b)(6) is within the
discretion of the district court.'” Weigel v.
Maryland, 950 F.Supp.2d 811, 825-26 (D. Md. 2013)
(quoting 180S, Inc. v. Gordini U.S.A., Inc., 602
F.Supp.2d 635, 638-39 (D. Md. 2009)). Generally, the
plaintiff should be afforded the opportunity to amend,
see id., or dismissal should be without prejudice.
See Adams v. Sw. Va. Reg'l Jail Auth., 524 F.
A'ppx 899, 900 (4th Cir. 2013) (“Where no
opportunity is given to amend the complaint, the dismissal
should generally be without prejudice.”).
WMATA's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(1) (Counts
1-3, 5, 7-9)
asserts numerous claims against WMATA stemming from the short
course of events leading to his termination. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 9-31. Specifically, these claims can be
construed as: breach of contract (Count 1); the at-will
employment contract is void, unconscionable, and
unenforceable (Count 2); the contract violated public policy
(Count 3); WMATA's cell phone policy violates Fourteenth
Amendment Due Process (Count 5); “unprofessional
conduct contrasted to misconduct by the plaintiff”
(Count 7); conspiracy (Count 8); and intentional infliction
of emotional distress and damages (Count 9). WMATA asserts
immunity from these claims pursuant to the WMATA Compact and
the Eleventh Amendment.
Eleventh Amendment bars suit in federal court against an
unconsenting state and any governmental units that are arms
of the state unless Congress abrogates that immunity. See
Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 755-57 (1999). To properly
abrogate a state's immunity, Congress must unequivocally
declare such an intent. See Seminole Tribe of Fla. v.
Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 55 (1996). WMATA, a
quasi-governmental entity created by the Washington
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact, which is
codified in section 10-204 of Maryland's Transportation