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Massaquoi v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

February 25, 2015

NATHANIEL V. MASSAQUOI II, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

Page 45

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For NATHANIEL V. MASSAQUOI, II, Plaintiff: Farrokh Mohammadi, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Afshin Pishevar, PISHEVAR & ASSOCIATES, P.C., Rockville, MD.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT, VINCENT C. GRAY, Defendants: Sarah L. Knapp, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

REGGIE B. WALTON, United States District Judge.

The plaintiff, Nathaniel V. Massaquoi II, filed this civil action against the defendant, the District of Columbia,[1] asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 12101-12213 (2012), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e to e-17 (2012). See Amended Complaint (" Compl." ) ¶ ¶ 1(a)-(c).[2] Currently before the Court is the defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (" Mot." ) at 1. After careful consideration of the parties' submissions,[3] the Court must grant in part and deny in part the defendant's motion for the reasons stated below.

I. BACKGROUND

The plaintiff " is a professing Christian . . . male," Compl. ¶ 46, whose " national origin is the Republic of Liberia," and is " over the age of forty," id. ¶ 9. According to the plaintiff, he " suffers from major anxiety." Id. In October 2007, the plaintiff was hired by the District of Columbia to work at its Child Support Services Division of the Office of the Attorney General (" Child Support Services Division" ) as a Community Outreach Specialist. Id. ¶ ¶ 9, 11. Since he was hired, the plaintiff has allegedly been subjected to disparate treatment by his immediate manager at the Child Support Services Division, Angelisa Young, an African-American, who " does not suffer from major depression." Id. ¶ 14. More specifically, Ms. Young allegedly " subject[ed] [the] [p]laintiff to disparate treatment based upon religion, national origin, gender[,] and disability." Id. ¶ 19. The consequences of this alleged disparate treatment include denial of a promotion opportunity in 2010, id. ¶ 16, as well as denial of medical leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act in October 2011, see id. ¶ ¶ 17-18.

In February 2012, the plaintiff complained to Nicole Reece, the Acting Chief of Policy, Outreach and Training Section of the Child Support Services Division, that Ms. Young was subjecting the plaintiff to such disparate treatment, but allegedly no action was taken to address the plaintiff's grievances, except to inform Ms. Young of the complaint. See id. ¶ ¶ 19-21. In the following month, Ms. Reece allegedly moved the plaintiff " from a cubicle only steps away from her office . . . to a less desirable location" in the office. Id. ¶ 22. Thereafter, in April 2012, the plaintiff contends that " Ms. Young began to intensify her discriminatory and retaliatory treatment of [the] [p]laintiff." Id. ¶ 24; see also id. (alleging that discriminatory and retaliatory treatment included " issuing letters of admonition, excluding [the] [p]laintiff

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from meetings, and denying [the] [p]laintiff's requests to participate in essential [Child Support Services Division] training" ); id. ¶ 28 (alleging that the plaintiff was excluded from attending a meeting that was a part of his job); id. ¶ 33 (alleging that the plaintiff was denied training opportunities).

The plaintiff identifies the following specific examples of this alleged discriminatory and retaliatory conduct. In April 2012, during a staff meeting

Ms. Young asked each staff member to state one good thing that was going on [in] their personal life. When it was [the plaintiff's] turn, [he] stated: " God, God is good!" [Ms.] Young began to swag her finger in the air and stated: " Now, now . . . let's leave religion out of government!"

Id. ¶ 25. Then in May 2012, when the plaintiff sought to take medical leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act

Ms. Young advised [the] [p]laintiff that she was going to have to take corrective action against him. . . . Ms. Young stated words [to] th[e] effect [of]: " I know that they are considering your request for FMLA, until they tell me something, I have to do what I have to do!!! I must take corrective action now."

Id. ¶ 26. In that same month, the plaintiff contends that " Ms. Young yelled at [the] [p]laintiff for purportedly sending too many work-related emails," and allegedly punished the plaintiff by " fail[ing] to approve one of [the] [p]laintiff's work products." Id. ¶ 27. Later that year, in August 2012, the " [p]laintiff filed an internal discrimination and retaliation complaint with [the Office of Attorney General]." Id. ¶ 30. Then, beginning in November 2012, Ms. Young allegedly started eliminating certain duties the plaintiff had been performing, which fell under his purview as a Community Outreach Specialist. See id. ¶ ¶ 32-33. The plaintiff was then " placed on administrative leave" in January 2013, " pending termination from employment . . . effective" March 2013. Id. ¶ 34. As a result of the above-described events, the plaintiff has allegedly suffered " irreparable loss and injury, including, but not limited to economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress[,] and deprivation of his right to equal employment opportunities." Id. ¶ 37; see also id. ¶ ¶ 38-43 (detailing the extent of the alleged injuries). The plaintiff commenced this lawsuit, seeking damages for his alleged injuries. See id. at 13-15. The defendant has moved to dismiss the suit. Mot. at 1.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests whether the complaint " state[s] a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). " To survive a motion to dismiss [under Rule 12(b)(6)], a complaint must contain 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, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Moreover, a plaintiff receives the " benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Am. Nat'l Ins. Co. v. FDIC,642 F.3d 1137, 1139, 395 U.S.App.D.C. 316 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, raising a " sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully" fails to satisfy the facial plausibility requirement. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Rather, a claim is facially plausible only " when ...


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