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Chandler v. W.E. Welch & Associates

February 5, 2008

JOHNNY RAY CHANDLER, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
W.E. WELCH & ASSOCIATES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition, and the entire record in this case, the Court will enter judgment in favor of defendants with respect to plaintiff's breach of employment contract claims. The Court will dismiss plaintiff's constitutional claims, Section 1983 claims, and employment discrimination claims.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pro se plaintiff Johnny Ray Chandler, Sr. brings a variety of claims against his former employer, W.E. Welch & Associates, Inc. ("Welch"), and Welch employees Jeff Mahoney and Kim Gipe. Plaintiff contends that defendants unlawfully discriminated against him, deprived him of his constitutional rights, and violated duties imposed upon them by Welch's employment policies when they terminated his employment. Plaintiff seeks relief under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 ("Title VII"), Maryland's anti-discrimination law, and Welch's official employment policies as set forth in W.E. WELCH & ASSOCIATES, INC. MECHANICALCONTRACTORSEMPLOYEEHANDBOOK(October 2005) ("Employee Handbook").

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Plaintiff, a sheet metal worker, began working for defendant Welch in or about October 2005. See Defs.' Mot. at 2; Compl. at 2. He was terminated from his position by defendant Jeff Mahoney, his supervisor, on March 6, 2006. See Defs.' Mot. at 2; Compl. at 2.

Plaintiff subsequently telephoned defendant Gipe, who works in Welch's human resources department, to verify his discharge. See Compl. at 2. Ms. Gipe verified plaintiff's discharge and explained that he had been discharged "because Mr. Mahoney had written [plaintiff] up." Compl. at 3. Plaintiff protested that he had never been informed of any of these "write up[s]." Id. On March 7, 2006, plaintiff sent a letter to Welch's human resources department in which he argued that his discharge amounted to "un-fair [sic] employment termination" in "violation of the W.E. Welch Employee Handbook." First Mot. to Amend, Ex. A at 1 ("March 7, 2006 Letter"). Plaintiff maintained that his discharge was unfair because company policy requires supervisors to issue written warnings before firing employees, and plaintiff had received no warnings. The March 7, 2006 Letter asked for reinstatement, reassignment to another job site, and compensation. See Mar. 7, 2006 Letter at 2-3.

On March 17, 2006, plaintiff received his final paycheck from Welch in the mail. See Compl. at 2. Included with that paycheck were photocopies of four employee disciplinary reports related to plaintiff. See id. Each report documented a specific violation of company policy by plaintiff, and each report was signed by defendant Mahoney. See id., Exs. A-D ("Employee Disciplinary Reports").*fn2 Although the Employee Disciplinary Reports include a space for the employee to sign, plaintiff's signature did not appear on any of the reports. See id. After receiving the reports, it appears that plaintiff wrote another letter to defendant's human resources department. See Compl., Ex. E ("March 17, 2006 Letter"). Plaintiff's second letter reiterated his earlier argument that defendant Mahoney's failure to properly issue written warnings violated company policy. See Mar. 17, 2006 Letter at 2. Plaintiff further argued that his discharge violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because another sheet metal worker had received a written warning for poor performance. See id. He demanded reinstatement and compensation, and he asked Welch to reprimand defendant Mahoney and remove Mr. Mahoney from his supervisory position. See id. He then filed the instant lawsuit.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his complaint against Welch and defendant Mahoney in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on March 29, 2006. See Compl. at 1. Plaintiff's complaint alleged that defendants Welch and Mahoney discharged plaintiff in a manner that constituted "Bias Discrimination," deprived plaintiff of his constitutional rights, and violated Welch's employment polices. See id. at 1, 4-6. On April 5, 2006, plaintiff filed a motion seeking to add as a defendant Kim Gipe, another Welch employee. See First Mot. to Amend.

On May 1, 2006, defendants filed a notice of removal and removed the case to this Court. See Notice of Removal at 2-3 (invoking Court's diversity jurisdiction).*fn3 On January 5, 2007, defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff filed his opposition on April 4, 2007. On that same day, plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint, seeking to add a Fifth Amendment claim for violation of his due process rights. See Second Mot. to Amend at 2. Defendants opposed this motion on April 11, 2007, arguing that it was futile. See Second Mot. to Amend. Opp. at 1.

On May 1, 2007, this Court issued an Order observing that certain parts of defendants' motion to dismiss -- specifically, those parts addressing plaintiff's claims under Welch's Employee Handbook -- relied upon evidence beyond the four corners of the complaint. The Court therefore (1) converted defendants' motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment with respect to those portions of the motion and (2) gave the parties an opportunity to supplement the pleadings accordingly. See Chandler v. W.E. Welch & Assoc., Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 06-794, Order at 1-2 (D.D.C. May 1, 2007) ("Conversion Order") (citing Holy Land Found. for Relief and Dev. v. Ashcroft, 333 F.3d 156, 165 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (trial court abuses its discretion when it "fail[s] to comply with the procedures set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" by considering materials outside of the pleadings "without converting the proceeding to a Rule 56 proceeding and permitting [the nonmoving party] to either conduct discovery or come forward with additional evidence")). Defendants did not submit any further materials in response to that Order. Plaintiff submitted several documents. See Mot. to Produce at 3-5 (submitting evidence of the "mandatory language" used by Welch's Employee Handbook); Pl.'s Supp. Resp. at 4-5 (arguing that plaintiff's complaint states claims under the Constitution, "Standard Company Policy," and Section 1983); and Third Mot. to Amend at 2 (seeking leave to amend plaintiff's complaint to include "procedural due process" claims under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments).

III. PRELIMINARY MATTERS

A. Construing Plaintiff's Claims

Two of plaintiff's claims require some clarification. First, plaintiff claims that Welch engaged in "Bias Discrimination" because one of plaintiff's co-workers was provided with written and verbal notice of poor performance, while plaintiff was provided with no notice before he was discharged. Compl. at 1; see also id. at 3-4. Plaintiff has not contradicted defendants' interpretation of this claim as a claim for employment discrimination based on Title VII and, perhaps, Maryland's anti-discrimination laws. See Defs.' Mot. at ...


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