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McCall v. Yang

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 12, 2016

MERCY MCCALL, Plaintiff
v.
JENNY R. YANG, Chair, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Defendant

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge

Plaintiff Mercy McCall filed an administrative discrimination complaint against her employer, the United States Postal Service, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Dissatisfied with the results of those proceedings, she now brings this case under the Administrative Procedure Act against Defendant Jenny Yang, chair of the EEOC, challenging the EEOC’s handling of her case. Before the Court is Defendant’s [15] Motion to Dismiss. Defendant argues (1) that there is no jurisdiction over the claims in this action either under the Administrative Procedure Act or under Title VII and (2) that Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint fails to state a claim under either of those statutes. Upon consideration of the pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record for purposes of this motion, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s [15] Motion to Dismiss. The Court concludes that, although this Court has jurisdiction over this case, the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Accordingly, this case is dismissed in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

For the purposes of the motion before the Court, the Court accepts as true the well-pleaded allegations in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint. The Court does “not accept as true, however, the plaintiff’s legal conclusions or inferences that are unsupported by the facts alleged.” Ralls Corp. v. Comm. on Foreign Inv. in U.S., 758 F.3d 296, 315 (D.C. Cir. 2014).

Plaintiff filed an administrative discrimination complaint against her employer, the United States Postal Service, in August 2008, with the EEOC. Am. Compl. ¶ 9. On May 25, 2010, an EEOC administrative judge issued a decision on Plaintiff’s claims. Id. ¶ 10. That order noted that EEOC regulations require that the employing agency take final action on the complaint by “issuing a final order notifying the complainant whether the Agency will fully implement this decision within forty (40) days of receipt of the hearing file and this decision.” Id. ¶ 11; see Id . ¶ 12 (citing applicable EEOC regulation codified at 29 C.F.R. § 1614.110(a)). The Postal Service did not issue a final order or final action within 40 days of the May 25, 2010, decision by the administrative judge. Id. ¶ 16. Nor did the Postal Service ever issue such a final decision. Id. ¶ 18. More than two years after the issuance of the decision of the administrative judge, on September 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal with the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. Id. ¶ 19. On September 12, 2014, Plaintiff’s administrative appeal was denied on the grounds that it was not timely filed. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff’s request for reconsideration by the EEOC was denied, as well, on the same grounds. Id. ¶¶ 24-27. In this case, Plaintiff claims that the dismissal of Plaintiff’s administrative complaint without requiring the Postal Service to issue a final order or final action violates her substantive rights under Title VII and, therefore, violates the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act. Defendant moves to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction” and can adjudicate only those cases entrusted to them by the Constitution or an Act of Congress. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The Court begins with the presumption that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over a case. Id. To s urvive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), a plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over its claim. Moms Against Mercury v. FDA, 483 F.3d 824, 828 (D.C. Cir. 2007). In determining whether there is jurisdiction, the Court may “consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court’s resolution of disputed facts.” Coal. for Underground Expansion v. Mineta, 333 F.3d 193, 198 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the grounds that it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “[A] complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’ ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Rather, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the putative claims in this action and that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. As the Court explains below, several of the parties’ arguments appear to arise from drafting flaws in the several filings before the Court or confusion between the parties. Because those arguments are effectively resolved in the exchange of briefs between the parties, those arguments merit only a brief discussion here. Ultimately, the parties’ core remaining dispute is whether Plaintiff may assert a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (“A PA ”) for what she claims are violations of the procedural requirements of Title VII. The Court concludes that she may not, and therefore it dismisses this case for failure to state claim.

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

In her original Complaint, Plaintiff relied solely on the APA to establish subject matter jurisdiction. See Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 2. In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff relies on the APA, Title VII, and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 for jurisdiction. See Am. Compl. ¶ 2. Following Plaintiff’s lead, Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that the Amended Complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because there is no jurisdiction under either the APA or Title VII. Plaintiff then responds that the motion to dismiss misses the mark because there is jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the general statutory provision establishing jurisdiction over cases arising under federal law. While Plaintiff acknowledges that the APA does not provide jurisdiction, see Pl.’s Opp’n at 4 (citing cases), she does not acknowledge that the Amended Complaint incorrectly relied on the APA and Title VII as jurisdictional bases. In short, as clarified by her Opposition, Plaintiff only relies on section 1331 for jurisdiction.[2] Notably, Defendant never effectively contests Plaintiff’s assertion of jurisdiction under section 1331, see Def.’s Mot. at 2-4; Def.’s Reply at 1-3, and the Court concludes that there is jurisdiction under that section for any claims properly asserted pursuant to Title VII or the APA.

B. Failure to State a Claim

Defendant argues that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under either Title VII or the ...


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