The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS THE TITLE
VII CLAIM; ORDERING FURTHER BRIEFING ON THE DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL
MOTION TO DISMISS THE SECTION 1981 CLAIM
On June 6, 2001, Queen E. Glymph ("the plaintiff" or "Ms.
Glymph") filed a complaint alleging employment discrimination
against the District of Columbia Department of Human Services,
Commission on Mental Health Services ("the defendant" or "the
District of Columbia") pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title
VII"), the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended,
42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("section 1981"), the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq. ("the ADA"), and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. ("the
Rehabilitation Act"). The plaintiff claims that the defendant
discriminated against her when the defendant did not accommodate
her medical disability and terminated her position when she
could not return to work on a full-time basis. The plaintiff
also alleges that the defendant retaliated against her for
participating in a discrimination case filed against the
District of Columbia.
On August 14, 2001, the defendant filed a partial motion to
dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
arguing that Ms. Glymph has failed to allege discrimination
based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin under
Title VII and section 1981. After reviewing the submissions of
both parties, the court concludes that as a matter of law, the
complaint can survive the defendant's motion to dismiss the
retaliation claim under Title VII, and will therefore deny the
defendant's partial motion to dismiss the Title VII claim. In
addition, the court concludes that the parties have inadequately
addressed the defendant's partial motion to dismiss the section
1981 claim and will order further briefing on that issue.
Ms. Glymph, 53, began her career in June 1987 as a Mental
Health Coordinator in the District of Columbia. See Compl. at
4. On May 17, 1995, she was involved in an on-the-job car
accident and sustained an injury that prevented her from
her normal work duties as a program analyst. See id. On April
15, 1997, the District of Columbia sent Ms. Glymph a notice of
proposal to remove her from her program-analyst position. See
id. She then attempted to return to work, but could not
maintain her traditional work schedule. See id. Ms. Glymph
informed her employer that she could only work on a part-time
basis until she recovered from her injury. See id. at 5. On
June 9, 1997, the District of Columbia informed Ms. Glymph that
it could not accommodate her proposed limited work schedule and
instructed her to continue seeking coverage from the D.C.
Workers' Compensation program until she could return to her
duties full-time. See id. On December 9, 1997 and October 1,
1998, Ms. Glymph's physician sent the District of Columbia a
"Return to Work Plan," which would have allowed her to return to
work on a gradual basis. See id. The District of Columbia
informed Ms. Glymph that she could not return to her position
until she could work a full eight-hour day. See id. On July
29, 2000, the District of Columbia terminated her employment.
See id. at 6. Ms. Glymph claims that she was discriminated
against by the District of Columbia on the basis of her medical
disability caused by the 1995 automobile accident. See id.
Between 1996 and 1999, Ms. Glymph participated as a witness in
a race-discrimination case in the District of Columbia, styled
Wondafrash v. D.C. Government, C.A. No. 96-1272. See Compl.
at 6. She alleges that her participation in the case also played
a role in the District of Columbia's decision to fire her. See
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, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80
(1957). A motion to dismiss under 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, 94 S.Ct. 1683,
40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396
(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, 104 S.Ct. 2229, 81 L.Ed.2d 59 (1984); Atchinson v.
D.C., 73 F.3d 418, 422 (D.C.Cir. 1996). In deciding such a
motion, the court must accept all the complaint's well-pled
factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences
in the nonmovant's favor. See Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236, 94
B. The Plaintiff States a Claim on Which Relief May Be
Granted Under Title VII
In its partial motion to dismiss, the defendant argues that
the plaintiff has failed to establish a cause of action pursuant
to Title VII. See Mot.Dis. at 5. Specifically, the defendant
asserts that the scope of Title VII litigation is limited to
discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin, and does not address discrimination based on medical
disability. See id. The defendant contends that since there is
no mention of race, color, religion, or national origin in the
plaintiffs complaint, and that since there is no allegation in
the complaint that Ms. Glymph was discriminated against on the
basis of her sex, she cannot pursue a claim of discrimination
under Title VII. See id.
The defendant however, fails to recognize that while the
plaintiff never alleges a claim based on race, color, religion,
sex, or national origin in her complaint, she does allege
retaliation in violation of Title VII for her participation in a
prior protected activity. See Compl. at 6. Specifically, the
plaintiff claims that the defendant terminated her not only
because of her medical disability, but also because she served
as a witness in a race-discrimination suit against the District
of Columbia between 1996 and 1999. See id. Therefore, the
court denies the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiffs
Title VII claim based on race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin, because the plaintiff has not set forth such a claim.
Instead, the plaintiffs Title VII claim relates to retaliation
for a prior protected activity, which is clearly covered under
the statute. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3; Pl.'s Opp'n at 2. In
addition, the court does not construe the defendant's motion as
a motion to dismiss the retaliation claim since the defendant
states, "[t]here is no mention of race, color, religion, or
national origin in ...