United States District Court, D. Maryland
JULIUS L. SPELL, Plaintiff,
DEON WRIGHT, et al., Defendants.
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Julius L. Spell ("Plaintiff) brings
this action against Deon Wright and Wellington Bruch Ash,
employees of Civic Works, Inc. ("Defendants"),
alleging employment discrimination under Tide VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Am. Compl, ECF No. 10.) Currently
pending is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint. (ECF No. 29.) 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 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 29) is
originally filed a Complaint in this Court on March 7, 2019,
naming as Defendants Deon Wright, Wellington Bruce Ash, Adam
Martin, Barvo Jones, Nate Nuty a/k/a Nate Duty, and Sharon
Johnson, all employees of Civic Works, Inc., and alleging
that he had been subjected to religious discrimination on
three occasions and denied a training program offered at
Civic Works. (ECF No. 1.) On March 19, 2019, this Court
explained that Plaintiffs Complaint invoked neither federal
question or diversity jurisdiction and that Plaintiffs
allegations did not amount to a prima facie
claim. (ECF No. 4.) The Court granted Plaintiff
28 days to file an Amended Complaint curing the noted
defects. (Id.) Plaintiff timely filed his Amended
Complaint, naming only Deon Wright and Wellington Bruch Ash
as Defendants, and invoking federal question jurisdiction
under Tide VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (ECF No. 10.)
The Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint on July 16, 2019. (ECF No. 29.)
failed to respond to Defendants' Motion. Accordingly, on
December 2, 2019, this Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause
why his Amended Complaint should not be dismissed. (ECF No.
42.) Plaintiff filed his response to the show cause order on
December 31, 2019, stating that, despite not filing a
response, he believed he appropriately answered and was
waiting for "a court rule" or "tr[ia]l
date." (ECF No. 43.) Plaintiffs response to the show
cause order also included a Response in Opposition to
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 434.) Plaintiff
filed supplemental exhibits on January 10, 2020. (ECF No.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied a
position in an AmeriCorps program administered by Civic
Works, Inc. based on his observance of Islam. (Am. Compl. at
6, ECF No. 10; Am. Compl. Exhibits, ECF No. 10-1.) He
contends that Defendant Wright "encouraged staff and
employee's [to] deny plaintiff fair and equal treatment
of federal fund and benefit assistance." (Am. Compl. at
6, ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff does not make any factual
allegations about Defendant Ash.
received a letter from the City of Baltimore Office of Civil
Rights and Wage Enforcement on December 27, 2018, which
references a complaint by Plaintiff "regarding [his]
concerns about Civic Works in Baltimore City." (Am.
Compl. Exhibit 4, ECF No. 10-1.) The complaint was
subsequently dismissed because Plaintiffs concerns were
"not covered by th[e] agency" and his "issue
[wa]s not minimally sufficient to process a complaint."
(Id.) Plaintiff does not allege that he filed a
complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the state
equivalent, Maryland Commission on Human Relations
("MCHR"), nor does he provide any such
are obliged 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.
Wetter v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387,
391 (4th Cir. 1990). A plaintiffs status as pro se
does not absolve him of the duty to plead adequately. See
Stone v. Warfield, 184 F.R.D. 553, 555 (D. Md. 1999)
(citing Anderson v. Univ. of Md. Sch. Of Law, 130
F.R.D. 616, 617 (D. Md. 1989), aff'd, 900 F.2d
249, 1990 WL 41120 (4th Cir. 1990)). This Court recognizes
that Plaintiff is pro se and has accorded his
pleadings liberal construction. However, Plaintiffs Amended
Complaint fails to state a cognizable claim because Plaintiff
has not exhausted his administrative remedies and the
Defendants Wright and Ash are clearly not Plaintiffs employer
for the purposes of a Title VII claim. Even liberally
construed, these shortcomings warrant dismissal of the
bringing a Title VII 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. § 2000e-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 Tide VII claim of
discrimination must be filed with the EEOC within 300 days of
the alleged discriminatory action. EEOC v. R&R
Ventures, 244 F.3d 334, 338 n.1 (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).
timely raised by the defendant, failure to exhaust
administrative remedies warrants dismissal under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules. See, e.g., Stewart,
912 F.3d at 701-702; see also Carter, TDC-18-2249,
2019 WL 3804765, at *2 (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).
does not allege that he filed a complaint with the EEOC, but
instead provides correspondence with the City of Baltimore
Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement, which
communicated to Plaintiff that his concerns were not covered
by the agency and his issue "was not minimally
sufficient to process a complaint." (Am. Compl. Exhibit
4, ECF No. 10-1.) Accordingly, Plaintiff failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies because he did not file a charge
of discrimination with the EEOC or an appropriate state
agency before filing his Complaint in this Court. For this
reason alone, Plaintiffs Amended Complaint must be dismissed.
Plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies, he fails
to state a claim against Defendants under Tide VII because
the Defendants were never Plaintiffs employer. Under 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). 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 Or.
2006). While a complaint need not include "detailed
factual allegations," it must 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." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff cannot rely on bald accusations
or mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
VII provides that "[i]t shall be an unlawful employment
practice for an employer to ... discriminate against
any individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment because of such
individual's race, color, religion, sex or national
origin." 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-3(a) (emphasis added).
In addition, it is well-established that "supervisors
are not liable in their individual capacities for Tide VII
violations." Lissau v. Southern Food Services,
Inc.,159 F.3d 177, 180 (4th Cir.1998). Only an employer
may be held liable for Title VII violations because
individual liability under the Act "would improperly
expand the remedial scheme crafted by Congress."
Id. at 181. The named Defendants are mere employees
of Civic Works, Inc., and not ...