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Lawson v. Pepco

July 7, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge


Plaintiff Odell P. Lawson, proceeding pro se, has sued his employer, defendant Potomac Electric Power Company ("Pepco"), for employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000 ("Title VII"), and breach of contract. Pepco has filed a motion to dismiss for insufficient service of process and failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6). Upon review of the parties' legal memoranda and the applicable law, the Court will grant defendant's motion to dismiss all claims under Rule 12(b)(6).


Plaintiff has been a Pepco employee since 1974. (Mot. at 3.) Plaintiff served the complaint on Pepco via USPS Express Mail on March 25, 2010; the package was addressed to Pepco and delivered to Pepco's main office. (Mot. at 8, Ex. B at 2-3.) Plaintiff's complaint alleges employment discrimination in violation of Title VII and breach of contract based on the following incidents that allegedly occurred during the course of his employment:

1) Files containing records of jobs plaintiff had completed were deleted by other Pepco employees two to three times a month for a period of six to ten years. The deletions have ceased since plaintiff was provided with a flash drive by Pepco management two to three months before the complaint was filed. (Compl. at 27-30.)

2) Other employees were allowed to be in the office "at almost any given hour," while plaintiff was told to leave if he stayed after 4:45 p.m. (Id. at 29.)

3) Between September 17, 2003 and September 26, 2003, plaintiff was isolated by management when he was assigned to work in Rockville during the aftermath of Hurricane Isabelle despite having more experience than the nine employees assigned to work storm duty in Forestville. (Id. at 24.) He was further isolated by Pepco management in assigning him to work in Prince George's County while a street light conversion project was ongoing in the District of Columbia and in overlooking plaintiff for overtime storm duty in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. (Id. at 25-26.)

4) During a speaker phone call on February 15, 2007, Pepco employee Jamie Dudley said of plaintiff to a Pepco supervisor, "You know, you've got to keep an eye on him." (Id. at 11.) This statement was made so that several other Pepco employees could hear it and was "very, very deceitful, bordering on hate, for a person you hardly know." (Id. at 12.)

5) On October 22, 2007, Travis White, another Pepco employee, "kept inquiring" about when plaintiff would retire and speculated that plaintiff was "not financially able to retire." (Id. at 17, 34.) White was uncooperative during the project they were working on together. (Id. at 17, 34.) White then engaged in "blatant insubordination" in refusing to follow plaintiff's instructions to take a certain route driving back from the project and to stop so that plaintiff could get some lunch. (Id. at 19-21.) During this incident, "in an effort to regain control of the situation" and only after checking carefully for oncoming traffic and turning on the blinkers, plaintiff put the truck into park and removed the key from the ignition of the vehicle while it was stopped at a red light. (Id. at 20.) On December 5, 2007, plaintiff received a written reminder from Fred S. Johnson of Pepco about the safety violation relating to the removal of the key from the ignition of the truck. (Id. at 21-23.) White was not disciplined for his insubordination because he was the son of a Pepco supervisor. (Id. at 21-22.)

6) Other employees were part of a "conspiracy" -- "a group of guys that meant [plaintiff] 'no good' " (id. at 13, 15), as shown by the following incidents: (a) Cheiho Ko, an Pepco engineer, spoke to him "in a loud, belittling voice," saying, " Lawson, what the hell is this . . .[?]" (id. at 13); (b) Gary Neckorcuk, a supervising engineer, "repeatedly, threateningly" told plaintiff, "I didn't like the way you handled that situation with Ko" (id.); (c) Neckorcuk said, "I heard you applied for that new position," followed by "Well, who's going to teach you?" (id.); (d) Jeffrey B. Linton, another Pepco employee, gave "wrong information on each and every manhole" to plaintiff during a project (id. at 14, 31-32); (e) Linton "dragged [plaintiff] through court on a bunch of bogus lies about [plaintiff] 'stalking him' in retaliation for [plaintiff] making it known to management that he purposely gave [plaintiff] incorrect data," resulting in a three-day suspension with pay for plaintiff (id. at 33-34); and (f) Linton stole a Pepco camera and let plaintiff be blamed for its loss. (Id. at 32-33.)

7) Plaintiff was not recognized at a meeting on March 20, 2008, as one of the employees who did not use any sick leave during 2007, even though he had not used any sick leave in over fourteen years, as of the time he filed his complaint. (Id. at 34.)

8) On September 23, 2009, plaintiff took two bottles of Gatorade from the Pepco supply area as he prepared to leave for an assignment in the field. He intended one bottle for himself and one for a co-worker, following "normal procedure." (Id. at 1-2.) Rebecca Erlich, a Pepco engineer, then stopped him and told him that because the temperature would not reach eighty-five degrees that day she would return the bottle of Gatorade to the supply room. (Id. at 1-2.) "Rebecca Erlich seemed to have gone out of her way to irritate, anger, [and] belittle" him. (Id. at 2.) The observed high temperature on that date was eighty-seven degrees. (Id. at 2-3, 4, 5.)



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