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Langer v. George Washington University

July 30, 2007

MARK LANGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Mark Langer worked as Head of Acquisitions for The George Washington University's ("GW" or "University") Gelman Library System until he was terminated in November 2006. Plaintiff alleges violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act ("DCFMLA"), and District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), in addition to various common law claims. Pending before the Court is defendant Jack A. Siggins' Partial Motion to Dismiss. Siggins seeks to dismiss plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim (Count VII) and intentional interference with employment relationship and/or business relations claim (Count VIII). For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Siggins' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working as Head of Acquisitions for the University's Gelman Library System in July 2003. He was classified as a Librarian II. In June 2005, plaintiff was reappointed to the rank of Librarian II and his employment was extended through June 30, 2009.

Before plaintiff began work at GW and during the time he worked there, he suffered from major depressive disorder, attention-deficit disorder, and chronic migraine headaches. Plaintiff was officially diagnosed with these conditions in 1995. In late 2005, plaintiff's depression worsened. At the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006, he notified his employer that he suffered from depression and a disability and would benefit from certain accommodations in the workplace. In February 2006, plaintiff was forced to take medical leave as a result of his depression. He underwent intensive outpatient therapy at the Washington Psychiatric Institute during that time. Plaintiff was cleared to return to work by his treating physicians in late February 2006. Plaintiff requested accommodations on account of his disability several times throughout 2006. Plaintiff also provided his employer with a letter in June 2006 from his treating physician regarding his worsening medical condition.

Plaintiff claims that rather than working with plaintiff to find suitable accommodations, defendants GW and Jack Siggins(plaintiff's supervisor and University Librarian) took a series of illegal and retaliatory actions against plaintiff. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants communicated with one of plaintiff's treating physicians in an attempt to elicit a statement that plaintiff's requested accommodations were unreasonable, docked plaintiff seven days pay in August 2006, refused to allow plaintiff to work after 7:00 p.m., chastised plaintiff for arriving after 9:00 a.m. even though plaintiff received permission to do so, attempted to force plaintiff to take long-term disability rather than working with plaintiff to find accommodations in the workplace, and otherwise refused to respond to plaintiff's reasonable requests for accommodations in the workplace.

Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Siggins personally harassed and intimidated plaintiff and attempted to force plaintiff to resign. Siggins allegedly asked plaintiff intimidating and inappropriate questions on his first day back to work, told plaintiff he was on a short leash, told plaintiff he would have fired him if it was not for the FMLA, and retroactively changed plaintiff's July 2004 through July 2005 performance ratings to eliminate plaintiff's alleged stellar performance ratings and reflect his alleged poor performance.

Plaintiff claims that defendants' actions prevented him from adequately performing his job as Head of Acquisitions and caused plaintiff tremendous emotional distress, resulting in the need for additional medical leave in September 2006. When plaintiff returned from this second period of leave in October 2006, plaintiff claims that defendants again failed to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant Siggins continued his emotional harassment and intimidation of plaintiff. On November 16, 2006, defendants terminated plaintiff's employment with GW.

In his complaint, plaintiff alleges the following claims against GW only: FMLA retaliation and discrimination (Count I), breach of contract (Count IV), and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count V). As to defendant Siggins only, plaintiff alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VII) and intentional interference with employment relationship and/or business relations (Count VIII). Plaintiff also alleges that both defendants are liable for DCFMLA discrimination and retaliation (Count II), DCHRA discrimination and retaliation (Count III), and promissory estoppel (Count VI).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). A complaint must present "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," and "above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965, 1974 (2007). The Court will accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint, and give the plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be drawn from the facts alleged. See id. at 1965; Atchinson v. Dist. of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 422 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

III. ANALYSIS

Defendant Siggins has moved to dismiss Count VII (intentional infliction of emotional distress) and Count VIII (intentional interference with employment relationship ...


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