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Jackson v. Library of Congress

June 20, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard W. Roberts United States District Judge


This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.


Plaintiff began working as a janitor at the Library of Congress ("LOC") on May 26, 1975. Complaint ("Compl.") at 2, 4. Her duties required her to handle heavy objects, for example, by pulling or lifting trash containers. See id. at 2, 3-4, 7.

Plaintiff contacted a Counselor ("EEO Counselor") with the LOC's Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints Office ("EEOCO") in January 1983 regarding a complaint of discrimination based on race, color and sexual harassment. Compl. at 2. On February 9, 1983, the EEO Counselor notified plaintiff of her option to file a formal written complaint of discrimination. Plaintiff[']s Objection to Motion for Dismissal ("Pl.'s Opp.") at 18 (Memorandum from C.C. Zirps, EEO Counselor). Plaintiff did so, and on December 19, 1983, her "discrimination complaint was rejected, then on Dece. [sic] 28, 1983 [her] appeal was put in." Compl. at 2; see Pl.'s Opp. at 19 (Memorandum from H.R.L. Cook, Employee Representative).

Evidently the filing of a discrimination complaint triggered an unfavorable response from plaintiff's supervisor and co-workers. See Compl. at 4. Her supervisor threatened to "get her fired" and purposely hindered plaintiff's efforts to obtain benefits after plaintiff suffered an onthe-job injury on February 25, 1983. See id. at 2, 4. Her condition, diagnosed as costochondritis, required her absence from work. Id. at 2. She returned to limited duty work, and on July 13, 1983 she sustained a second injury. Id. After having undergone a physical examination in April 1984, plaintiff was deemed fit for limited duty (lifting no more than 20 pounds) for an indefinite period of time as of May 10, 1984. Notice of Filing Exhibits to Complaint ("Pl.'s Ex."), Ex. 5 (Notice of Proposed Adverse Action), Attach. B. In an effort to find a suitable work assignment, the LOC had plaintiff take a clerical test on October 25, 1984. Id., Ex. 5. She failed that test, and did not report for a second test. Id. On November 28, 1984, the LOC determined that it did not have a position for plaintiff which would meet her physical limitations and skills. Id. Plaintiff took a leave of absence from November 28, 1984 through May 27, 1985.*fn2 Pl.'s Opp. at 21-22.

The LOC proposed plaintiff's removal on March 6, 1985 for the following reasons: in light of the fact that: (1) you have been determined unfit for duty in your present position due to medical reasons; (2) the Library has been unable to identify suitable placement for you due to your reported medical limitations; and (3) you have consequently remained in leave without pay status for a period in excess of one year, your removal from your position is proposed.

Pl.'s Opp. at 23 (Notice of Proposed Adverse Action). Plaintiff was terminated on June 24, 1985. See Compl. at 5.

Plaintiff applied for disability retirement benefits on June 14, 1985. Compl. at 5. On September 3, 1985, the Office of Personnel Management's Disability and Special Entitlements Division requested "an updated, detailed medical examination with special emphasis on Orthopedic and Psychiatric evaluation, including response to treatment, current Diagnosis, and Prognosis." Pl.'s Ex. 8. Evidently the application was denied for reasons not indicated in the record. Plaintiff again applied for disability retirement benefits in January 1997. Compl. at 5. According to the complaint, the application was approved, but plaintiff received no benefits. Id.

In 2003, plaintiff "started to look for reasons why all [her] benefits were being blocked." Compl. at 7. When she searched through boxes of her papers, she "found out that [she] had been fired at that time in 1985." Id. She claimed that she "can't remember receiving [] discharge papers." Id.

Plaintiff brought a second claim of discrimination to an EEO Counselor on April 1, 2005. Pl.'s Ex. 10 (Allegation of Discrimination). She alleged that the LOC discriminated against her on the basis of a physical disability which rendered her unable to perform duties as a janitor. See id. On April 12, 2005, the EEO Counselor notified plaintiff of her option to file a formal complaint of discrimination, and plaintiff did so on April 29, 2005. Compl. at 9; Plaintiff['s] Motion to Settle, Ex. (April 21, 2005 letter from T.I.S. Brown, Acting EEO Counselor, EEOCO). The LOC did not accept her EEO complaint, however. See Compl., Attach. (May 17, 2005 Final Agency Decision). Plaintiff unsuccessfully appealed this decision. See id. The LOC determined that plaintiff failed to contact an EEO Counselor timely, that she did not qualify for an extension of time for making contact with an EEO Counselor, and with, respect to her termination, that she failed to file her discrimination complaint timely, that is, within 20 work days of her termination. Id.

In this action, plaintiff challenges the LOC's Final Agency Decision. She demands damages of $8 million, among other things, for "[t]he torment, humiliation, harassment and shame" she has suffered. Compl. at 10, 11.


Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint on the ground that plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Specifically, defendant argues that plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, and, for this reason, the complaint should be dismissed with prejudice. A motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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 liberally are construed in plaintiff's favor. See, e.g., United States v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 131, 135 ...

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