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Rebecca Tressler v. National Railroad Passenger

May 13, 2011

REBECCA TRESSLER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert L. Wilkins United States District Judge

SUMMARY MEMORANDUM AND OPINION; NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the Court is Defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation's motion to dismiss claims V --VIII of the Amended Complaint. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Rebecca Tressler's original complaint in this case was filed on October 28, 2009. Plaintiff alleged three counts: (1) creation of a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII") and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA") (from January 13, 2006 to present); (2) retaliation in violation of Title VII and the DCHRA; and (3) creation of a hostile work environment in violation of the DCHRA (from March 15, 2008 to present). On October 29, 2010, Plaintiff filed its Amended Complaint adding claims for constructive demotion, violation of the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), and defamation.

Plaintiff is employed with Defendant as a railroad engineer on the Virginia Railway Express ("VRE"). Am. Compl. ¶ 9. Plaintiff has alleged that from January to June of 2006, a male passenger on the VRE train stalked her and behaved inappropriately by touching her, obstructing her way when she left the operator's compartment, and taking pictures of her while she operated the train. Id. ¶ 11.*fn1 When Plaintiff changed her positioning in her seat to block the passenger's view while she operated the train, she began to experience back pain, headaches, and numbness. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff raised the stalking issue with her employer in April of that year. According to Plaintiff, however, Defendant did little to respond to her complaints. Id. ¶¶ 14-15.

In the fall of 2006, Plaintiff was suspended for exceeding the maximum speed authorized by a temporary dispatcher bulletin. She also lost the use of her rail pass-an unusual punishment for this offense. Id. ¶ 24. When Plaintiff returned to work from her suspension in January 2007, she took a lower-paying position as a yard engineer to avoid further harassment and retaliation from her supervisors at the VRE. Id. ¶ 26. That same month, Plaintiff claims that Defendant's employees spread false rumors concerning her health and mental stability. Id. ¶ 27.

On March 14, 2008, while Plaintiff was driving the train, a male co-worker gave Plaintiff an unsolicited neck rub, exposed his genitals, and then grabbed her hand and forced her to touch his genitals. Id. ¶ 31. At some time after this incident, sexually graphic and derogatory graffiti about Plaintiff and women in general began to appear in the engines plaintiff was scheduled to operate. Id. ¶ 32. According to Plaintiff, Defendant did not take any reasonable steps to investigate this incident. Id.

Defendant filed its motion to dismiss counts V --VIII of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on November 12, 2010, arguing that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to state a claim for which any relief can be granted.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, acceptable as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Anderson v. Holder, 691 F.Supp.2d 57, 61 (D.D.C. 2010) (brackets omitted) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)) (internal quotes omitted).

A court considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff and must accept as true all reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pleaded factual allegations. In re United Mine Workers of Am. Employee Benefit Plans Litig., 854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C. 1994). However, where the well-pleaded facts do not permit a court, drawing on its judicial experience and common sense, to infer more than the "mere possibility of misconduct," the complaint has not shown that the pleader is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950.

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court "may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint and matters of which [a court] may take judicial notice." Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 183 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting EEOC ...


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