The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge
Document Nos. 7-1, 8-1, 9-1
Denying the Defendants Motion to Dismiss Retaliation Claim
The plaintiff brings this action for disparate treatment on the basis of race, gender, and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 et. seq., as amended ("Title VII"). The matter now comes before the court on the defendant=s motion to dismiss the retaliation claim. After careful review of the complaint and the applicable law, the court holds that the complaint - as a matter of law - satisfies the minimum pleading standards prescribed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Because the plaintiff need not make out a prima facie case of retaliation at the initial pleading stage, the court concludes that the complaint states a claim for retaliation upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, the court denies the defendant=s motion to dismiss the retaliation claim. *fn1
Stanley Woodruff ("the plaintiff" or "Mr. Woodruff"), an African-American man, brings this action against his employer, the United States Government Printing Office ("the defendant" or "GPO"), for alleged acts of unlawful employment discrimination. See Compl. at 2. He seeks compensatory damages, including back pay and adjustment of benefits, as well as a retroactive promotion. See id. Mr. Woodruff=s claims arise from a promotion he applied for but did not receive. *fn2 See Compl. at 8. Although the GPO had identified Mr. Woodruff as one of the seven best candidates for the position, his supervisors passed him over in favor of a white female, Judith Miller, whom they had also named as one of the seven best candidates. See id.
Mr. Woodruff alleges that Ms. Miller=s promotion, which occurred on June 21, 1993, was an act of disparate treatment on the basis of Mr. Woodruff=s race (black), sex (male) and color (black) in violation of Title VII. See id. at 9. In addition to the claim for disparate treatment, Mr. Woodruff charges that his employer retaliated against him, also in violation of Title VII. See id. The GPO only moves to dismiss the plaintiff=s retaliation claim.
The principal factual allegations are as follows. In April 1972, the GPO hired Mr. Woodruff as a security policeman. See Compl. at 6. In 1974, the GPO assigned him to the Composition Division, now the Electronic Photocomposition Division (AEPD@), which was "overwhelmingly comprised" of black men. See id. In 1978, the GPO revamped the EPD with new technology. Mr. Woodruff and several of his co-workers, also black men, brought a racial discrimination suit against the division for not training them in the new technology (Brewington v. Boyle, Dkt. No. 78-1290 (D.D.C. 1979)). See id. The suit eventually settled and Mr. Woodruff received the training he had requested. Thereafter, in 1986, the GPO placed him in the Video Keyboard Section of the EPD as a Printing Specialist. See id. At the time he filed this complaint on January 27, 2000, Mr. Woodruff still worked for the Video Keyboard Section, as a Printing Specialist (Journeyman), GS-12, Step 9. See Compl. at 2-3.
The three managers who selected Judith Miller for promotion to Head Deskman are Charles E. Daily (Foreman, Video Keyboard Section, Shift 1), Robert Schwenk (Superintendent of the EPD), and Glenn H. Rottman (Director of Production Services). See Compl. at 8. All three are white men. See id. Mr. Foreman was the selecting officer, Mr. Schwenk the concurring officer, and Mr. Rottman the officer who gave final approval to Ms. Miller's selection. See id. The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Daily, Mr. Schwenk and Mr. Rottman said their decision to select Ms. Miller was based on merit (i.e., her greater experience, background, and knowledge), rather than the plaintiff's race, sex, color, or prior EEO activity. See Compl. at 7. The plaintiff, however, claims that the managers used merit as a pretext to mask unlawful and illegal discriminationin employment against the plaintiff based on race, sex, and color, and in retaliation for prior EEO activity. See Compl. at 7-8. For the reasons that follow, the court rules that the plaintiff's complaint states a claim for unlawful retaliation upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, the court denies the defendant's motion to dismiss the retaliation claim.
A. Legal Standard for 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
For a complaint to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, it need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim and the grounds on which it rests. See FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests not whether the plaintiff will prevail on the merits, but instead whether the plaintiff has properly stated a claim. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled o.g. by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). Thus, the court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Atchinson v. D.C., 73 F.3d 418, 422. In deciding such a motion, the court is bound to accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of fact, excluding those that are overbroad and ...