United States District Court, District of Columbia
CORWYN W. HATTER, Plaintiff,
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.
TANYA S. CHUTKAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff Corwyn Hatter alleges that defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA") violated the Rehabilitation Act by requiring him to undergo a medical test not required of other applicants and by failing to hire him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 30). Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint as untimely, arguing that it was filed outside the statute of limitations without the benefit of any tolling provisions. For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES the motion to dismiss.
Hatter applied for a job with WMATA. On March 24, 2010, WMATA offered him a position as bus operator, pending the successful completion of a drug and medical examination by a licensed physician. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13). A subsequent physical examination revealed that Hatter had elevated blood pressure. ( Id. ¶¶ 14-15). WMATA then instructed him to undergo a test for sleep apnea. ( Id. ¶ 16).
Hatter underwent an examination for sleep apnea; the examination revealed that he had "moderate sleep apnea." ( Id. ¶ 20). He declined to provide the results of the sleep apnea test to WMATA, even after it informed him that failure to do so would result in his disqualification for employment. ( Id. ¶¶ 22-24). In or around June 2010, Plaintiff learned that WMATA had selected another applicant for the position he sought. ( Id. ¶ 28).
In 2010, Hatter filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). ( Id. ¶ 29). On July 18, 2012, the EEOC issued a determination that WMATA violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act when it: (1) required Hatter to undergo a test not required of other applicants; and (2) failed to hire him as a bus operator. (Am. Compl. Ex. 1 at 1). Following an unsuccessful attempt at conciliation, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") issued a "Notice of Right to Sue to Within 90 Days" on June 6, 2014. (Am. Compl. Ex. 2). Plaintiff filed this suit on August 26, 2014, more than four years after WMATA refused to hire him in June 2010. (Mot. at 2).
Defendant moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint as time-barred, arguing that Hatter filed his suit outside the one-year statute of limitations which it contends applies to Rehabilitation Act claims brought in D.C., and that the limitations period was not tolled by the filing of Plaintiff's EEOC charge.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
"To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 (2009) (internal quotation omitted). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (internal quotation omitted). Although a plaintiff may survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion even where it appears "recovery is very remote and unlikely[, ]" the facts alleged in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Moreover, a pleading must offer more than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). If the facts as alleged, which must be taken as true, fail to establish that a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion must be granted. See, e.g., Am. Chemistry Council, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 922 F.Supp.2d 56, 61 (D.D.C. 2013).
Nevertheless, even a well-pleaded complaint may be dismissed when it is "clear from the face of the complaint" that plaintiff's claims are outside of the applicable statute of limitations. Adams v. District of Columbia, 740 F.Supp.2d 173, 180 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing Smith-Haynie v. District of Columbia, 155 F.3d 575, 578 (D.C. Cir. 1998)). But "[b]ecause statute of limitations issues often depend on contested questions of fact, ... the court should hesitate to dismiss a complaint on statute of limitations grounds based solely on the face of the complaint." Id. (citing Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1209 (D.C. Cir. 1996)).
A. Applicable Statute of Limitations
Neither the Rehabilitation Act nor Title VI, from which the Act borrows its "remedies, procedures, and rights, " 29 U.S.C. § 794a(a)(2), provides an express statute of limitations. When a federal statute lacks a statute of limitations provision, courts should borrow from analogous state statutes. Cephas v. MVM, Inc., 520 F.3d 480, 484-85 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (citing North Star Steel Co. v. Thomas, 515 U.S. 29, 34 (1995)). In the Rehabilitation Act context, federal district courts in this jurisdiction have typically applied the three-year statute of limitations under D.C.'s personal injury statute, D.C. CODE § 12-301 (2014). See, e.g., Adams, 740 F.Supp.2d at 184 (citing Stewart v. District of Columbia, No. 04-cv-1444, 2006 WL 626921, at *11 (D.D.C. Mar. 12, 2006)).
Recently, however, in a case involving a plaintiff's claim that the D.C. Public Service Commission violated the Rehabilitation Act by refusing to reinstate him on the basis of a perceived disability, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that the applicable statute of limitations should be one year, borrowing the limitations period from the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. Code § 12-309 (2014), and not the personal injury statute. Jaiyeola v. District of Columbia, 40 A.3d 356 (D.C. 2012). The court in Jaiyeola determined that, based on a variety of factors, the DCHRA was a more appropriate analogue than the personal injury statute. Among other things, it found that "[p]ersonal injury claims need not- and, indeed, typically do not-seek to remedy discrimination at all, and the three-year statute of limitations for such claims certainly was not chosen with discrimination claims in mind." Id. at 367. The DCHRA, by ...