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Robinson v. Ergo Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 30, 2015

LORI ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ERGO SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant

Page 276

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 277

For LORI ROBINSON, Plaintiff: Samuel Bailey, Jr., SAMUEL BAILEY & ASSOCIATES, LLC, Washington, DC.

For ERGO SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant: Morris Eli Fischer, LEAD ATTORNEY, MORRIS E. FISCHER, LLC, Silver Spring, MD.

Page 278

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN D. BATES, United States District Judge.

Lori Robinson alleges that her erstwhile employer, Ergo Solutions, retaliated against her for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and constructively discharged her. Ergo responds by attacking her claims on all fronts: timing of service, failure to state a cause of action, and violating the statute of limitations. But these arguments mostly miss their mark. The Court will grant the motion to dismiss only as to Robinson's claim of constructive discharge, deny the remainder of Ergo's motion, and permit discovery as to Robinson's claim of retaliation.

BACKGROUND

Throughout Robinson's career at Ergo--since 1996--she had been allowed to work from home. Am. Compl. [ECF No. 2] ¶ 7. After fifteen years, however, things changed. In January 2011, she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that one of Ergo's owners had made sexual advances toward her. Id. ¶ 8. That June, Robinson was told that she could no longer work from home. Id. ¶ 9. In the absence of any explanation for this change, Robinson surmised that retaliation was the cause. Id. ¶ 9--10.

Robinson was also surprised by a negative performance evaluation. Id. ¶ 11, 13. Her June 2010 appraisal had " indicated that her performance was good to outstanding." Id. ¶ 11. But her subsequent evaluation " criticized her use of leave slips [and] her use of leave and cited her for 'inadequate professional behavior' without any basis." Id. ¶ 12.

Concerned that this evaluation, too, was the result of retaliation, Robinson filed suit on March 10, 2014, claiming retaliation and constructive discharge under both Title VII and the D.C. Human Rights Act. On July 8, she filed a (substantially similar) amended complaint. And on July 9, a summons was issued to Ergo. It was served three days later. See Return of Service/Aff. [ECF No. 15].

Ergo has moved to dismiss the lawsuit or, alternatively, for summary judgment.

Page 279

It has also requested sanctions against Robinson.

LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion " tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint." Lewis v. Dist. of Columbia, 535 F.Supp.2d 1, 8 (D.D.C. 2008). To pass the test, " the plaintiff must allege a plausible entitlement to relief, by setting forth any set of facts consistent with the allegations." Id. at 9 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Although " detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, to provide the " grounds" of " entitle[ment] to relief," a plaintiff must furnish " more than labels and conclusions" or " a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).

At this stage, the Court " must treat the complaint's factual allegations--including mixed questions of law and fact--as true and draw all reasonable interferences therefrom in the plaintiff's favor." Lewis, 535 F.Supp.2d at 9. But the Court " need not accept as true inferences unsupported by facts set out in the complaint or legal conclusions cast as factual allegations." Id. And " [a] defendant may raise the affirmative defense of a statute of limitations via a Rule 12(b)(6) motion when the facts giving rise to the defense are apparent on the ...


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