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Mary J. Rhone v. United States Capitol Police

June 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge


Plaintiff Mary Rhone brings this action against the United States Capitol Police. Rhone claims that defendant, while acting as her employer, violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Civil Rights Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17 (2006), as incorporated with respect to agencies of Congress by the Congressional Accountability Act ("CAA"), 2 U.S.C. §§ 1301-1438 (2006). Now before the Court is [15] defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint ("Def.'s Mot.") under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may granted. Upon consideration of the record, and for the reasons explained below, defendant's motion will be granted.

I. Background

Rhone, an African-American female, has been employed by defendant United States Capitol Police since June 14, 1986, and as an Employee Relations Specialist in the Office of Human Resources since 2005. Am. Compl. ¶ 8. Rhone has been involved since 2001 with a separate, ongoing class-action litigation against defendant involving claims of discrimination. See Blackmon-Malloy v. U.S. Capitol Police Board, No. 01-0221, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19022 (D.D.C. Mar. 19, 2007), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 575 F.3d 699 (D.C. Cir. 2009). Rhone has also filed a complaint against defendant in the Office of Compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act for an undisclosed injury. Am. Compl. ¶ 18. She has previously filed a complaint against defendant alleging separate hostile work environment, retaliation, discrimination, and harassment claims with the Office of Professional Responsibility. Id. ¶¶ 20-21.

Several of Rhone's allegations involve conflicts with Frederick Herrera, a Senior Employment Counsel working for defendant. Rhone claims that on June 29, 2010, she was involved in a dispute with Herrera involving the status of an employee's request for advancement of sick pay. Id. ¶ 13. According to Rhone, Herrera argued that she should be removed from the process of approving further requests for advancements of sick leave, and Rhone claims that by doing so he "diluted [her] duties and responsibilities thereby limiting her chances for future positions of authority and promotions." Id.

On August 11, 2010, Herrera requested several documents from a case assigned to Rhone. Id. ¶ 17. When Rhone's supervisor gave Herrera the documents, Rhone claims Herrera "told [the supervisor] he did not want the information from the case that plaintiff worked on." Id. Rhone also claims that around this time, Herrera sent her emails that "implied Rhone did not know how to do her job." Id.

On August 17, 2010, Rhone forwarded documents to Herrera concerning an employee's leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") at Herrera's request. Id.¶ 14. Rhone asserts that Herrera misrepresented the request to Rhone's supervisor as allowing the employee leave to "baby-sit her child," and further claims that as a result of the misrepresentation she appeared to her supervisors to be unable to do her job and was forced to defend her decision to qualify the employee for leave under the FMLA. Id.

Rhone claims that on an unspecified date Herrera asked her to write a letter concerning an officer's request for intermittent leave and give it to a white co-worker, who Rhone felt "knew very little about FMLA," for review. Id. ¶ 16. Rhone contends that a white female with Rhone's job responsibilities "never received the kind of harassment, scrutiny, or allegations of incompetence like those directed at plaintiff by . . . Herrera." Id. Rhone also claims that on several occasions, Herrera made untruthful remarks to Rhone's supervisors regarding her job performance. Id. ¶ 15.

Rhone also asserts that on August 17, 2010, Inspector Thomas Loyd and Captain Tara Neeld erroneously told an officer requesting a shaving waiver*fn1 that Rhone had not processed the officer's request. Id. ¶ 22. Additionally, Rhone claims that on an unspecified date Loyd and Neeld "sent emails, copying virtually everyone on the Senate division, seeking answers from Rhone regarding certain programs she is responsible for administering." Id. Rhone alleges that Loyd and Neeld are the subject of many complaints alleging racial discrimination. See id. ¶ 23.

Rhone claims that the above actions are a result of race and sex discrimination as well as retaliation for her role in the Blackmon-Malloy lawsuit and for her disability complaint; she also claims that these actions resulted in a hostile work environment. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 34, 38, 45,

53. Rhone underwent counseling and mediation regarding her claims as required by the Congressional Accountability Act, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1401-03, and then filed a complaint in this Court requesting an award of civil damages and injunctive relief.*fn2 Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26-29, A-F. Defendant has moved for dismissal pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 12(b)(6) and argues that Rhone has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

II. Standard of Review

A plaintiff need only provide a "short and plain statement of [his] claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), that "give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In considering such a motion, the "complaint is construed liberally in the plaintiff['s] favor, and [the Court] grant[s] plaintiff[] the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994); see Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

A complaint survives a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) only if it "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw [a] reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "A complaint alleging facts which are merely consistent with a defendant's liability . . . stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). A pro se complaint "must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers," Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted), but it, ...

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