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Marshall v. Honeywell Technology Solutions

February 26, 2008

SANDRA MARSHALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HONEYWELL TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS, INC. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Sandra Marshall's corrected amended complaint variously alleges against defendants Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc. ("Honeywell"), L-3 Communications Government Services, Inc. ("GSI") and SGT, Inc. ("SGT"), age, sex, and race discrimination and retaliation, violations of her Fifth and Eighth Amendment protections and her rights under the Equal Pay Act, and common law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision. SGT moved to dismiss all claims against it and GSI moved to dismiss all but one claim against it, each arguing that Marshall had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted or had failed to meet mandatory administrative or litigation filing deadlines and was time-barred.*fn1 GSI also moved to transfer the remaining claim for improper venue. Because Marshall failed to state a Fifth Amendment claim, an Eighth Amendment claim, a claim under § 1981 for sex discrimination, a claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, or a claim for negligent supervision and retention, all such claims brought against GSI or SGT will be dismissed. Because Marshall failed to meet mandatory deadlines for filing her federal equal pay claim, her state anti-discrimination claims, and her federal age discrimination administrative charges ---- which is a prerequisite for filing a federal civil claim for age discrimination ---- all such claims brought against GSI or SGT will be dismissed. Because venue is proper as to the claim that survives against GSI and no other defendant has challenged venue, GSI's motion attacking venue will be denied.

BACKGROUND

The corrected amended complaint makes the following allegations. Marshall worked for either Honeywell or its subcontractor GSI for 25 years. She was 54-years-old at the time her employment was terminated on December 31, 2003, when Honeywell replaced GSI with a new subcontractor, SGT. (Corrected Am. Compl. ("CAC") ¶¶ 11, 12, 49.) While working for GSI, she was subjected to racial, sexual, and age discrimination in the form of slurs and harassment by supervisors and other employees, and limitations on her authority. For example, defendants told her that she was emotional, indecisive, and picky, like most women; they silenced her but not white male managers in management meetings; and they undermined her authority over her white subordinates. (Id. ¶¶ 17a, 17b, 18, 19a, 22-25, 32, 33.) When SGT replaced GSI as the subcontractor, SGT hired all the employees Marshall had supervised and told Marshall that her position was not included in their contract, but said that it would hire her if there was a job available. (Id. ¶¶ 37, 39, 41.) SGT never employed Marshall, but employed a significantly less experienced white male who was 8 to 14 years younger than she to perform the duties Marshall had performed in her job with GSI. (Id. ¶¶ 41-45.) Marshall "has suffered and will continue to suffer, severe emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish" and was "unable to sleep, eat or concentrate and have a loving relationship with her spouse and family." (CAC ¶¶ 29, 99.)

Within a few weeks after her employment with GSI ended, Marshall filed pro se administrative charges with the Prince George's County Human Relations Commission ("PGCHRC"), which amounted to filing with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").*fn2 She alleged race and sex discrimination against all three defendants, and retaliation against Honeywell and GSI. (SGT's Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A; GSI's Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A.) Almost two years later, on December 30, 2005, Marshall, through counsel, initiated this civil action alleging only a single claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., against Honeywell, GSI and SGT, and asserting that "[p]rior to filing this civil action, Plaintiff timely filed a written charge of age discrimination with the Prince George's Human Relations Commission . . . and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 9.) The next week, on January 6, 2006, Marshall's administrative charge filed with the PGCHRC/EEOC was amended to add a claim of age discrimination. (See Pl.'s Mot. to Strike Ex. 1.) Four months later, on or about April 25, 2006, Marshall served the three defendants with the summons and complaint in this action. In May 2006, the three defendants each filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Marshall had not timely filed an administrative charge of age discrimination. (See SGT's Mot. to Dismiss at 5; GSI's Mot. to Dismiss at 5; Honeywell's Mot. to Dismiss at 4.) On October 27, 2006, Marshall received a right to sue letter issued by the EEOC on October 25, 2006.*fn3 With the defendants' motions to dismiss pending, Marshall filed an amended complaint on January 12, 2007, adding claims for race and sex discrimination, harassment and retaliation, violations of her equal pay rights and constitutional protections, and for two common law personal injuries. Then, on January 29, 2007, Marshall sought leave, which was granted, to file a corrected amended complaint.*fn4

Marshall's corrected amended complaint was further effectively amended by her notice of voluntary dismissal, filed after GSI and SGT had moved to dismiss claims, and again by clarifications in her opposition papers. The result is that she asserts claims against GSI for (1) age discrimination brought under the ADEA, and the anti-discrimination provisions of Maryland Code 49B § 42, (2) violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, (3) race and sex discrimination and retaliation brought under Maryland's anti-discrimination statute,*fn5 (4) race and sex discrimination brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, (5) violation of the Fifth Amendment's due process protections, (6) violation of the Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment, (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and (8) negligent supervision and retention. With the exception of the § 1981 claim for race discrimination, which GSI does not address either in its motion to dismiss or its reply, GSI has moved to dismiss all claims against it for failure to state a claim.*fn6

Marshall also asserts claims against SGT for (1) age discrimination brought under the ADEA and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Maryland Code, (2) race and sex discrimination brought under Title VII and the Maryland Code,*fn7 (3) race and sex discrimination brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, (4) violation of her Fifth Amendment protections, and (5) violation of her Eighth Amendment protections.*fn8 SGT has moved to dismiss all claims against it.

DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A court considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss assumes all factual allegations to be true, even if they are doubtful. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007); Kowal v. MCI Communc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (noting that a court must construe the complaint "liberally in the plaintiffs' favor" and "grant plaintiffs the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged"). A court need not, however, "accept inferences drawn by plaintiffs if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint.

Nor must [a] court accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." Id.

The notice pleading standard set forth in Rule 8(a) does not require the plaintiff to plead a prima facie case. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002). Rule 8(a) simply requires "a short and plain statement of the claim that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1114 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do[.]" Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65 (internal citations and quotations omitted) (alteration in original). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true . . . ." Id. at 1965 (citations and footnote omitted).

Both GSI and SGT have filed documentary exhibits with their motions to dismiss. Marshall has also filed documentary exhibits and an affidavit with her opposition papers. Generally speaking, if "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). However, "[w]here a document is referred to in the complaint and is central to the plaintiff's claim, such a document attached to the motion papers may be considered without converting the motion to one for summary judgment." Vanover v. Hantman, 77 F. Supp. 2d 91, 98 (D.D.C. 1999) (finding that the personnel manual and "the various letters and materials produced in the course of plaintiff's discharge proceeding," all of which were attached to plaintiff's opposition papers, fall under this exception and may be considered without converting the motion to one for summary judgment) (citing Greenberg v. The Life Ins. Co. of Va., 177 F.3d 507, 514 (6th Cir. 1999)). Because the materials appended to the motions to dismiss and opposition are either referred to in or characterized by the pleading, and are central to Marshall's claims, the motions will be decided under the Rule 12(b)(6) standard rather than the summary judgment standard.

I. CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS

GSI and SGT move to dismiss Marshall's Fifth and Eighth Amendment claims because those amendments do not govern either GSI or SGT. It is among the most basic tenets of constitutional law that the Bill of Rights protects individuals from governmental interference with enumerated rights and does not apply to disputes between private parties. Pub. Util. Comm'n of D.C. v. Pollack, 343 U.S. 451, 461-462 (1952) (holding that the Fifth Amendment applies to and restricts only the Federal Government); Browning-Ferris Indus. of Vermont, Inc. v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U.S. 257, 258 (holding that "the Eighth Amendment places limits on the steps a ...


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