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GREENE v. ENGLAND

United States District Court for the District of Columbia


February 9, 2004.

LURIA N. GREENE, Plaintiff,
v.
GORDON R. ENGLAND, Secretary, United States Department of the Navy, Defendant

The opinion of the court was delivered by: HENRY KENNEDY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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 granted.

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. Page 2

  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.

  II. ANALYSIS

 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 Page 3 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 trial.

 C. "Unfavorable Employment Assignments" and "Loss of Employment Opportunities" Claims

  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 claims Page 4 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 omitted).

  III. CONCLUSION

  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 opinion.

20040209

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