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Davis v. Geithner

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 28, 2013

Gregory O. DAVIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Timothy F. GEITHNER, et al., Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Uduak James Ubom, Ubom Law Group, PLLC, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Mercedeh Momeni, John Peter Tavana, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD W. ROBERTS, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, seventeen [1] black police officers at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (" BEP" ) bring this employment action against the Secretary of the United States Department of Treasury (" DOT" ) and the plaintiffs' supervisors, Christopher Cooch and David Lindsey, alleging multiple acts of racial discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. [2] The defendants have moved to dismiss claims in the amended complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The request to dismiss the claim in ¶ 54 of the amended complaint will be largely granted as conceded. Because Title VII claims cannot be brought by federal employees against individual defendants, the request to dismiss Cooch and Lindsey will be granted. The defendants' request to dismiss certain Title VII claims for plaintiffs' failure to exhaust their administrative remedies, treated as a motion for summary judgment, will be granted because there is no genuine dispute about material facts and the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Because the defendants do not point to undisputed facts that show that claim preclusion bars the plaintiffs' claims regarding plaintiff Aileen Joy's termination, the defendants' request to dismiss those claims, treated as a motion for summary judgment, will be denied.

BACKGROUND

On March 14, 2008, the plaintiffs filed the original complaint in this action. They later filed an amended complaint against the Treasury Secretary, Cooch, and Lindsey alleging that the defendants had discriminated against the plaintiffs because of their race and color. At the relevant times, Cooch was " the head of the Police Operations Division, and the Police Commander of the Plaintiffs[.]" Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Lindsey was " the Police Chief." Id. ¶ 7. The plaintiffs were police officers at the BEP located in Southwest, Washington, D.C. Id. ¶ 8.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants have created a hostile work environment and retaliated against them from 2002 to the present. Id. ¶ 9. The plaintiffs contend that they are being retaliated against for filing " EEOC complaints, grievances, and unfair labor practices complaints against the DOT," id. ¶ 11, and make a variety of factual allegations to support their claims. For example, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants discriminated and retaliated against plaintiff Gregory Davis by refusing to promote him to vacant positions to which he applied. See, e.g., id. ¶¶ 42, 64, 69-70, 72. The defendants also allegedly

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discriminated against Davis by refusing to pay him earned overtime pay, id. ¶¶ 59, 61, 67, and denying him other employment opportunities, id. ¶ 57. The plaintiffs also assert that Cooch specifically retaliated against the plaintiffs in a number of ways including attempting to terminate Kenneth Dickens, Aileen Joy, Kerri Williams, and Ricky Russell, id. ¶¶ 26, 28-29, suspending Dickens, id. ¶ 44, and denying the plaintiffs reimbursement for liability insurance that they were entitled to receive, id. ¶ 47.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants further discriminated against them by excluding them from " early-out retirement" for which they are eligible. Id. ¶ 53. The plaintiffs state generally that they have exhausted their administrative remedies, id. ¶ 2, but specifically note that Davis filed an EEOC complaint regarding his claim that he was owed eight hours of administrative leave, id. ¶ 55, and Davis raised his claim that he was denied overtime pay in October 2004 in an EEOC proceeding, id. ¶ 61.

The amended complaint charges that the defendants violated Title VII by creating a hostile work environment (First and Third counts) and retaliating against the plaintiffs (Second and Fourth counts).

The defendants have moved for partial dismissal under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on several grounds. First, the defendants argue that a number of the plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed because the plaintiffs failed to timely exhaust administrative remedies. Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (" Defs.' Mem." ) at 1. Second, the defendants contend that a number of the plaintiffs' claims are barred by claim preclusion because they were previously litigated and decided through a collective bargaining process. Id. at 1-2. Third, the defendants move to dismiss the matter against the individually named defendants arguing that they are not proper defendants under Title VII. Id. at 2.

The plaintiffs oppose, arguing that they timely exhausted their administrative remedies for the claims in their amended complaint by either filing claims with an equal employment opportunity (" EEO" ) counselor or " Grievances with Management as required by the [terms] of their employment." Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Pls.' Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (" Pls.' Mem." ) at 3; see also id. at 7-8. The plaintiffs further argue that some of their factual claims are pled to support their hostile work environment claim. Id. at 8-9. With respect to the claims that the defendants assert are barred by claim preclusion, the plaintiffs urge that they seek not to relitigate the claims but to use the factual assertions to support their hostile work environment claim. Id. at 10. The plaintiffs contend that the individual defendants are properly named because the defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity in this case. Id. at 11.

DISCUSSION

A district court can dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) when the defendant shows that the plaintiff " fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). " A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of a ...


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