United States District Court for the District of Columbia
February 9, 2004.
LURIA N. GREENE, Plaintiff,
GORDON R. ENGLAND, Secretary, United States Department of the Navy, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HENRY KENNEDY, District Judge
Plaintiff, Luria N. Greene ("Greene"), brings this action for sexual
harassment and reprisal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,
against defendant Gordon R. England, Secretary, U.S. Department of the
Navy. Before this court are defendant's motion to dismiss [#9] and
defendant's motion to dismiss amended complaint [#21]. Upon consideration
of defendants' motions, the oppositions thereto, and the record of this
case, the court concludes that defendant's motion to dismiss must be
granted and that defendant's motion to dismiss amended complaint must be
I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Greene brings this action for sexual harassment and reprisal under
Title VII, alleging that defendant unlawfully interceded in the
processing of her 1995 complaint of discrimination filed with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Greene's amended complaint
adds claims of "unfavorable employment assignments" and "loss of
employment opportunities." See Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5.
Greene previously brought an action for sexual harassment and reprisal
under Title VII against the United States Department of the Navy and her
former supervisor. Greene v. Dalton, Civil Action No. 96-2161.
That action ultimately concluded after a jury trial in which the jury
returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.
A. Legal Standard
A motion to dismiss is appropriate "only if it is clear that no relief
could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent
with the allegations." Martin v. Ezeagu, 816 F. Supp. 20, 23
(D.D.C. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted); see Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) (stating that a complaint should
not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief"). In addition, the court must "construe the complaint in the
light most favorable to [the] plaintiff and must accept as true all
reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pleaded factual
allegations." In re United Mine Workers of Am. Employee Benefit Plans
Litig., 854 F. Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C. 1994); see Schuler v.
United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979) (stating that the
court must give the plaintiff "the benefit of all inferences that can be
derived from the facts alleged").
B. Improper Processing Claim
Greene's claim that defendant interfered with the processing of her
1995 EEOC complaint must be dismissed because Title VII does not provide
a cause of action for interference with the processing of a complaint.
Boyd v. Slater, Civil Action No. 00-1445 (D.D.C. Jan. 31, 2001)
(order granting motion to dismiss). Even if such a claim existed, Greene
failed to exhaust her
administrative remedies because she did not timely file an EEOC
within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct.
29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1). Greene did not contact an Equal Employment
Opportunity Counselor until May 2001 regarding the improper processing of
her 1995 EEOC complaint. Greene would have known of a claim of improper
processing in 1995 when she received her EEO counselor's report. Greene's
statement that she did not learn of the discriminatory act until 2001 is
merely conclusory. Moreover, a claim of improper processing would be moot
because Greene subsequently had the opportunity to have the merits of her
sexual harassment and reprisal claims heard in federal court in a jury
C. "Unfavorable Employment Assignments" and "Loss of Employment
Res judicata and collateral estoppel apply to bar Greene from bringing
her claims of "unfavorable employment assignments" and "loss of
employment opportunities." See Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5. Under
the doctrine of res judicata, "a final judgment on the merits of an
action precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues
that were or could have been raised in that action." Alien
v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980) (citation omitted) (emphasis
added). Collateral estoppel bars "relitigation of [an] issue in a suit on
a different cause of action involving a party to the first case."
Id.; Carter v. Rubin, 14 F. Supp.2d 22, 34 (D.D.C. 1998)
(citations omitted). Collateral estoppel prevents relitigation of issues
"actually and necessarily decided" in a prior lawsuit. I.A.M. Nat'l
Pension Fund v. Indus. Gear Mfg. Co., 723 F.2d 944, 949 (D.C. Cir.
1983). Res judicata and collateral estoppel bar Greene from bringing her
of "unfavorable employment assignments" and "loss of employment
opportunities" because these claims were already litigated or could have
been litigated in the previous Title VII action she brought in 1996.
Failure to exhaust administrative remedies provides another ground for
dismissal of the claims of "unfavorable employment assignments" and "loss
of employment opportunities." Greene did not include these claims in her
1995 or 2001 EEOC complaints. A court can exercise jurisdiction over only
those claims contained in a plaintiff's administrative complaint, or
claims "like or reasonably related to" allegations in the administrative
complaint that were exhausted. Park v. Howard Univ.,
71 F.3d 904, 907 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks and citation
For the foregoing reasons, the court concludes that defendant's motion
to dismiss [#9] and defendant's motion to dismiss amended complaint [#21]
must be granted. An appropriate order accompanies this memorandum
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