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Hunter v. District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency

May 11, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge


Ernest Hunter, pro se, sues his employer, the District of Columbia's Child and Family Services Agency ("CFSA"), with a four count Complaint alleging discrimination, retaliation, and a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16, as well as a claim under the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act, D.C. Code § 1-615.54. CFSA moves to dismiss. As explained below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part. The hostile work environment claim (Count III) will be dismissed for failure to state a claim because the allegations, taken as true, do not meet the legal standard for such a claim. In all other respects, the motion will be denied.


Mr. Hunter, an African American man, is a Contract Compliance Officer with CFSA and he has been employed in this position since April 2007. Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 3] ¶¶ 5,

10. Mr. Hunter's responsibilities include making sure CFSA's Contracts and Procurement Administration complies with applicable rules and regulations. Id. ¶ 11. On July 1, 2008, Mr. Hunter sent a letter to Ronnie Charles, then Senior Deputy Director for Administration at CFSA, complaining about the "lack of experience among staff in key positions, cronyism, gender discrimination in the application of the agency's Alternative Work Schedule Program, unprofessional, negative and malicious behavior and comments from management, discriminatory practices and the lack of adherence to Contracting rules and regulations." Id.

¶ 13. Mr. Hunter also claims that Latonya Bryant, then Acting Program Manager at CFSA, attempted to have two other employees "forge funding documents" in anticipation of an audit, and Mr. Hunter informed both his immediate supervisor and Mr. Charles about this. Id. ¶¶ 13-14.

Mr. Hunter wrote a second letter of complaint to Mr. Charles, alleging that Ms. Bryant allowed her friends to come to work at various times without consequences while at the same time Ms. Bryant recommended to Mr. Charles that Mr. Hunter's request for an Alternative Work Schedule be denied. Id. ¶ 15. This second letter prompted an August 7, 2008, meeting attended by Mr. Hunter, Mr. Charles, Ms. Bryant, and Catherine Higgins, then Acting Contracts Administrator at CFSA. Mr. Hunter complained at that meeting about "mismanagement and circumvention of the rules" and informed the group that he had complained about the alleged forgery to the Office of Inspector General. Id. Mr. Charles informed Mr. Hunter that he was to report directly to Latonya Bryant; previously Mr. Hunter reported to Catherine Higgins. Id. ¶ 16. Also at the August 7 meeting, Mr. Charles, Ms. Bryant, and Ms. Higgins allegedly disparaged Mr. Hunter's work, and Ms. Bryant and Ms. Higgins unfairly accused Mr. Hunter of being hostile and threatening to co-workers. Id.

The next day, August 8, 2010, Mr. Hunter was required to attend a meeting with Ms. Bryant, Ms. Higgins, human resource specialist Yasmine Mitchell, and an unnamed man who was a "classification generalist." Id. ¶ 18. At this meeting, Ms. Bryant accused Mr. Hunter acting in a threatening manner the previous day and ordered Mr. Hunter to take a fitness for duty examination at Mr. Hunter's expense. Id. ¶¶ 19-21. CFSA placed Mr. Hunter on administrative leave with pay pending completion of the examination. Id. ¶ 21. Mr. Charles and Ms. Higgins allegedly did not authorize the order for a fitness for duty exam. Id. ¶ 23.

As a result of the foregoing, Mr. Hunter filed a complaint of discrimination and retaliation with the D.C. Office of Human Rights. On May 26, 2009, the Office of Human Rights sent him a Letter of Determination, indicating a finding of no probable cause. Id. ¶ 21. Mr. Hunter sought reconsideration, but the Office of Human Rights never responded. See Pl.'s Opp'n [Dkt. # 11] at 2.

Mr. Hunter also alleges that he submitted a letter to the D.C. Office of Risk Management, alleging discrimination and the whistleblower claims. On November 4, 2008 the Office of Risk Management acknowledged receipt of Mr. Hunter's claims but did not take any action. Id. ¶ 31.

Consequently, Mr. Hunter filed suit in this Court asserting that he is the victim of race and gender discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation all in violation of Title VII and that he is a victim under the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act. After filing this suit, Mr. Hunter received a right to sue letter dated December 10, 2009, from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Id. CFSA has moved to dismiss, and Mr. Hunter opposes.


A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the adequacy of a complaint on its face, testing whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint must be sufficient "to give a defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Although a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. The facts alleged "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Rule 8(a) requires an actual showing and not just a blanket assertion of a right to relief. Id. at 555 n.3. "[A] complaint needs some information about the circumstances giving rise to the claims." Aktieselskabet Af 21. Nov. 2001 v. Fame Jeans, Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 16 n.4 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (emphasis in original).

In deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated by reference, and matters about which the court may take judicial notice. Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. v. Chao, 508 F.3d 1052, 1059 (D.C. Cir. 2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is "plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. When a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, then the claim has facial plausibility. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. ...

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