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Ali v. District of Columbia Government

March 24, 2010

TARICK ALI, BY HIS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE, MONICA ALI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Tarick Ali, by his personal representative Monica Ali,*fn1 brings this suit against the District of Columbia Government ("District") and the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service ("D.C. Fire and EMS") alleging religious discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, D.C. Code §§ 2-1401.01 et seq. ("DCHRA"). Ali's claims arise from his alleged unlawful treatment as an employee of D.C. Fire and EMS. Before the Court is a motion to dismiss Ali's complaint filed by both defendants [#20]. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition thereto, and the record of this case, the Court concludes that the motion shall be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Tarick Ali, a practicing Muslim, was at all times relevant to this case a firefighter and emergency medical technician for D.C. Fire and EMS.

In observance of Islam, Ali prayed five times a day. On June 15, 2006, he participated in an afternoon prayer session with a co-worker at the fire station where he worked. As Ali was in the process of returning his prayer mat to the locker room, his immediate supervisor, Lieutenant Michael Malinowski, rang the fire house bells, signaling that the members of the house were to line up for a training drill. After the firefighters lined up, Ali alleges, Malinowski "singled out" Ali and his co-worker by "berat[ing] them for allegedly reporting to the floor approximately 30 seconds after the unit was placed out of service for the training drill." Compl. ¶ 10.*fn2

Shortly after this incident, Malinowski told Ali that he no longer needed to fill out a "special report" for reporting to the floor late.*fn3 Malinowski allegedly also told Ali that he "needed to choose between his job or his religion." Id. ¶ 14. Ali asserts that on the date Malinowski made this comment, Ali expressed opposition to the "discriminatory threats" made to him, and on or about this date, he filed an "internal complaint" alleging discriminatory treatment. Id. ¶ 15-16.

Ali alleges that "[d]efendant[s] harassed and retaliated against [Ali] when they strongly instructed [him] to change the subject" of his internal complaint. Id. ¶ 19. Ali alleges that Malinowski also "harassed and retaliated" against him by ordering Ali to "sign in his release in the journal signing out equipment, which is a task that was not part of a routine practice" and which was required of no other employees. Id. ¶ 20.

On July 5, 2006, Ali met with Malinowski and Battalion Fire Chief Steven Dove and again expressed opposition to his "discriminatory treatment." Id. ¶ 17. During this meeting, Malinowski allegedly admitted to asking Ali "[w]hat's more important to you, you know, your religion or the job of the fire department?" Id. ¶ 22. Malinowski allegedly then stated: "That's when I said, it don't work, the two things, religion [on] this side, job on this side, clash. And I said, Hey, Tarick, you need to make that decision. What's more important to you, because if they clash, you know there's going to be ramifications and all that." Id. ¶ 23. Ali further alleges that, during this meeting Dove threatened that if Ali continued to pursue the "harassment charge," Ali's "Islamic co-workers would be placed on charges as 'ramifications' for his action." Id. ¶ 24.

Ali maintains that following the July 5, 2006 meeting, Dove retaliated against him by "making the decision to require all employees to file a special report, which created a hostile work environment for [Ali]." Id. ¶ 25.*fn4

On September 21, 2006, Ali filed a charge with an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") office. Id. ¶ 18. He filed this action on November 12, 2008.

II. ANALYSIS

Ali brings claims of discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII and the DCHRA against the District and D.C. Fire and EMS. Defendants seek dismissal of all claims against D.C. Fire and EMS because that entity is not properly subject to suit and against the District for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

A. Ali's Claims Against D.C. Fire and EMS Must Be Dismissed

Defendants argue that D.C. Fire and EMS, an agency within the D.C. government, is "non sui juris and cannot be a party to this lawsuit." Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. ("Mot. to Dismiss") at 6. In particular, defendants contend that D.C. Fire and EMS, a creation of D.C. Code ยง 5-401, is not the type of independent corporate body that has ...


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