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CLARIETT v. RICE

October 18, 2005.

MARA K. CLARIETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE,[fn1] Secretary, United States Department of State, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD LEON, District Judge

*fn1 The Court will grant plaintiff's "Motion for Substitution of Party" [Dkt. #11]. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d)(1), the Court automatically substitutes current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her predecessor, former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER

This matter is before the Court on consideration of defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Having considered defendant's motion, plaintiff's opposition, and the entire record of the case, the Court will grant the motion in part, and deny the motion in part without prejudice. In addition, the Court will order plaintiff to submit a more definite statement.

  I. BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff, "an American, black, female citizen" from California, was an employee of the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria from May 1996 through January 2000. Compl., ¶ 2. Plaintiff entered into a personal services contract with the United States Department of State ("State Department") effective May 13, 1996. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 6 (Contract No. SOAU990-96-P-0034). According to the contract, plaintiff was to serve as an Administrative Assistant for the United States delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ("USOSCE") for annual compensation of $21,344. Id. The term of the contract was one year, and the parties renewed the contract in 1997 and 1998.*fn2 See id. (Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract, Nos. M0180 and M0106).

  The USOSCE Executive Office found that the delegation lacked sufficient administrative resources to manage funds, track movements of contract staff, administer contracts, or handle complex personnel matters. Def's Mot., Ex. 8 (DeSoto Aff.) at 5. Consequently, it established a "mission staffing unit" within the USOSCE, headed by a Foreign Service Officer to whom the Administrative Assistant, plaintiff, would report. Id., Ex. 7 (Request for USOSCE Program Personnel Position and Proposed Position Description), Ex. 8 at 3, 5-6. In light of this organizational change, the work requirements of the Administrative Assistant were revised somewhat. Id., Ex. 8 at 6. Plaintiff allegedly opposed the restructuring plan, and actively resisted its implementation. Id. at 7. Evidently, plaintiff considered the revised work requirements a demotion to a purely clerical job.*fn3 See Compl., ¶ 16(c).

  Plaintiff alleges that she endured "hostile work environment, harassment, and racial and gender discrimination" under Jeffrey Hovenier, who became her supervisor in April 1999. Compl., ¶ 16(c). Under Oscar DeSoto, who became her supervisor in December 1999, plaintiff alleges that her work environment "changed drastically." Id. For the alleged harassment and discrimination suffered under Hovenier's supervision, she states that she filed a formal complaint of discrimination with the Embassy Personnel Officer on December 19, 1999. Id., ¶ 6. Approximately one month later, she alleges that DeSoto demoted her to a purely clerical position on January 14, 2000 and placed her on probation, solely on the basis of her race and gender. Id., ¶¶ 6, 16(c). She further alleges that, barely two weeks later, on January 24, 2000, DeSoto fired her.*fn4 Id., ¶¶ 6, 16(c), 17(4); Def.'s Mot., Ex. 10 (Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract, No. M0005, effective January 25, 2000, and supporting memoranda).

  Plaintiff challenged her termination by filing a complaint with the State Department's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights on March 3, 2000.*fn5 Compl., ¶ 7; Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 (Formal Complaint of Discrimination and attachment). Although the agency allegedly suggested a desire to settle the case after its initial investigation, plaintiff stated that the State Department issued its Final Agency Decision in November 2002 upholding the termination. Compl., ¶¶ 8-10. Plaintiff appealed the agency's decision to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in December 2002. Id., ¶ 11. On May 13, 2004, the EEOC affirmed the State Department's decision, and in June 2004 denied plaintiff's request for reconsideration. Id., ¶¶ 13-14 & Ex. B (EEOC Decision), D (Denial of Request for Reconsideration).

  Plaintiff brings this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. Compl., ¶ 41. She alleges that defendant terminated her employment unlawfully on the bases of her race, color, gender, and national origin, and in reprisal for having filed a complaint of discrimination. Id., ¶ 44. In addition to these discrimination claims, plaintiff brings tort claims for "the publication of defamatory statements, . . . damage to her reputation, same, mortification, and emotional distress."*fn6 Id., ¶ 47.

  II. DISCUSSION

  A. Standard of Review

  1. Motion to Dismiss

  A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The ruling on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) does not test a plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits; rather, it tests whether a plaintiff properly has stated a claim. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The factual allegations of the complaint are presumed to be true and are construed liberally in plaintiff's favor. See, e.g., United States v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 131, 135 (D.D.C. 2001). The Court is not obligated, however, to draw factual inferences that are not supported by the facts alleged. Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Because ...


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