United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.
Rowlette ("Plaintiff), proceeding pro se, is a
former employee of Lifebridge Health ("Lifebridge"
or "Defendant") in Baltimore, Maryland. (Compl.,
ECF No. 1 at 6.) Plaintiff was employed as part of
Lifebridge's Vocational Services Program
("VSP") on January 22, 2017. pef. Mot. To Dismiss,
ECF No. 13-1 at 2.) The VSP is a program offered by the
Defendant to provide employment opportunities to individuals
with disabilities and economic need in Baltimore.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated from
his employment under this program on March 16,
2017. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5-6.) On July 5,
2018, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
(ECF No. 13-4.) In the EEOC complaint, Plaintiff alleged
that he had received no explanation for his discharge but
that he believed the discharge was because of his race and
disability. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5-6.) Finding that
Plaintiffs charge was untimely filed, the EEOC closed
Plaintiffs file and issued him a Right to Sue Notice on July
9, 2018. (ECF No. 13-5.) Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this
Court on August 31, 2018. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff
alleges that his discharge from employment at Lifebridge was
due to his race, gender, sex, and disability. (Def. Ex. 2,
ECF No. 13-4.) He alleges his termination was in violation of
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq.;
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title
VII"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant filed a
motion to dismiss the complaint asserting that the Plaintiff
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and that 42
U.S.C. § 1983 only applies to state actors. (Def. Mot To
Dismiss, ECF No. 13.)
pending before this Court is Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 13.) The parties' submissions have been
reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons stated below, the
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13) is GRANTED.
Court is mindful of its obligation to liberally construe the
pleadings of pro se litigants. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nonetheless, liberal
construction does not mean that this Court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a
cognizable claim, Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Or. 1990), or
"conjure up questions never squarely presented."
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985). In making this determination, this Court
"must hold the pro se complaint to less stringent
standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read
the complaint liberally." White v. White, 886
F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure
has moved to dismiss the Complaint based on Plaintiffs
failure to satisfy Tide VII and the ADA's administrative
exhaustion requirements. At the time Defendant filed its
Motion, the courts of this circuit adhered to the rule that
the failure to exhaust administrative remedies under Title
VII deprives federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction
over subsequently asserted claims. See Jones v. Calvert
Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297 (4th Cir. 2009). Accordingly,
Defendants invoked Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. In this most recent Term of Court, the
United States Supreme Court held that Tide VII's
administrative exhaustion requirements are not jurisdictional
in nature and therefore "must be timely raised to come
into play." Fort Bend Cty. v. Davis, 139 S.Ct.
1843, 1846 (2019). The exhaustion requirements are more
properly considered "claim-processing rules" which,
although not jurisdictional in nature, nevertheless must be
followed. Id. at 1849, 1851 (holding that Tide
VII's claim-processing rules are "mandatory"
and that the court must enforce them). The import of Fort
Bend is that Defendants may waive arguments related to
administrative exhaustion by failing to raise them in a
timely fashion. Timely raised, such objections may still
warrant dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules.
See, e.g., Stewart v. Iancu, 912 F.3d 693, 701-702
(4th Cir. 2019) (holding that Tide VII's mandatory
180-day waiting period requirement is akin to a mandatory
claim-processing rule and further considering whether
dismissal was appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) for plaintiffs
alleged failure to adhere to the rule); see also Carter
v. Montgomery Cty., TDC-18-2249, 2019 WL 3804765, at 2
(D. Md. Aug. 13, 2019) (construing motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(1) for failure to exhaust administrative remedies
as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) in light of the
Supreme Court's decision in Fort Bend).
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 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). Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of
a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) 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).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.,
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Under the
plausibility standard, a complaint must contain "more
than labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action."
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Painter's Mill
Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013).
A complaint need not include "detailed factual
allegations." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A complaint must,
however, set forth "enough factual matter (taken as
true) to suggest" a cognizable cause of action,
"even if ... [the] actual proof of those facts is
improbable and ... recovery is very remote and
unlikely." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal
quotations omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice" to plead a claim.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see A Society Without a
Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th. Cir. 2011).
ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court's evaluation is
generally limited to allegations contained in the complaint.
Goines 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
(2007)). In addition, a court may "consider a document
submitted by the movant that was not attached to or expressly
incorporated in a complaint, so long as the document was
integral to the complaint and there is no dispute about the
document's authenticity." Id. (citing
Sec'y of State for Defence v. Trimble Nav. Ltd.,
484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007)). A document is
"integral" when "its Very existence, and not
the mere information it contains, gives rise to the legal
rights asserted.'" Chesapeake Bay Found., Inc.
v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F.Supp.2d 602, 611
(D. Md. 2011) (citation omitted) (emphasis omitted).
Considering such documents does not convert a motion to
dismiss to one for summary judgment. Goldfarb v. Mayor
& City Council of Baltimore, 791 F.3d 500,
508 (4th Cir. 2015).
in ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, this Court
will consider Plaintiffs EEOC Charge. See Bowie 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.") (citations omitted).
argues that Plaintiffs Title VII and ADA claims are barred
because he did not properly exhaust his administrative
remedies. (Def. Mot. To Dismiss, ECF No. 13.) Additionally,
Defendant argues that the Plaintiffs Section 1983 claim
should be dismissed because Lifebridge is not a state actor.
(Id. at 10.) In this case, Plaintiff has not
exhausted his administrative remedies because he failed to
file a timely complaint with the EEOC. Additionally, Section
1983 only applies to state actors or those acting "under
color of a statute, ...