United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION [DKT. #5]
RICHARD J. LEON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Abdul Karim Bangura ("plaintiff or "Bangura")
is a political science scholar who was born in Sierra Leone
and immigrated to the United States decades ago. He alleges
that while employed as a faculty member in the political
science department at Howard University ("the
University") he was discriminated against because of his
race, color, religion, and national origin. Compl.
¶¶ 1, 33 [Dkt. #1]. While employed as an adjunct
faculty member, Bangura applied for a tenure-track position
on multiple occasions, never with any success. The University
instead gave him the position of "lecturer, " which
position he held for eight years before the University
declined to renew his contract. Bangura filed suit against
Howard University and the three individual decision-makers
who were responsible for these employment actions
(collectively "defendants"), claiming the actions
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq. Compl. ¶¶ 32-34. Bangura also makes two
common law claims, for wrongful discharge and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. Compl. ¶¶ 35-49.
This matter is before the Court on defendants' Motion to
Dismiss the complaint in its entirety [Dkt. #5]. Upon
consideration of defendants' motion, related briefings,
and the entire record of this case, the Motion to Dismiss is
University first hired Bangura as an adjunct faculty member
in 1998. He applied for a tenure-track position for the first
time in 2006. Bangura was not selected for the position, but
nevertheless began a full-time lecturing load in the fall of
2007. According to Bangura, the chair of the political
science department assured him at that time that he could
continue to be considered for tenure-track positions. Bangura
continued to teach full time, intermittently making inquiries
about the opportunity to "rectify" his employment
status. Compl. ¶ 15.
fall of 2013, Bangura again applied for an available
tenure-track position. Id. ¶ 16. Bangura
learned however that his name was not on the list of
applicants considered by the search committee for that
position. Bangura suspected that a non-African/Black
professor had discriminated against him by removing his
application from the pool. As such, Bangura raised this
concern with the University's administration, apparently
without resolution. Id. ¶¶ 20-21.
end of the 2013-14 school year, the University informed
Bangura that after seven years of full-time teaching without
a tenure-track position, his term as a temporary lecturer was
due to expire. They did acknowledge, however, that because
they had failed to give him the proper notice, they would
extend his contract for one additional school year. Bangura
claims that he knows of "other faculty" who were
"reemployed" by the University even after being
employed for over seven years as lecturers. Compl. ¶ 27.
February 2015 Bangura applied for another tenure-track
position that had become available, notwithstanding the
warning he had been given of non-renewal. He claims his name
was again not among those that the search committee received.
In March 2015 the University informed Bangura that he was not
eligible to apply for a tenure-track position because he was
terming out as a non-tenured faculty member. Plaintiff
contends, however, that there was no such policy memorialized
in the University Faculty Handbook at the time.
April 2015, Bangura filed a complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging
that he was denied a tenure-track position and relegated to
the inappropriate rank of lecturer on the basis of his
protected characteristics. The EEOC reached no determination
as to the complaint, but informed Bangura of his right to sue
in June 2015. Within the ninety days specified by the EEOC
notice, Bangura filed this suit.
MOTION TO DISMISS
in moving to dismiss Bangura's complaint, argue that
Bangura is time-barred from bringing Title VII claims based
on the adverse employment events that he alleges occurred
prior to 2015. As such, defendants contend the only Title VII
claim that the Court should review for substance is
Bangura's allegation that defendants discriminated
against Bangura when they declined to review his application
for a tenure-track position in February 2015 and subsequently
let his lecturer contract lapse. Defendants argue that this
claim does not pass muster under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) because Bangura does not allege any facts
that could establish that these adverse employment actions
were motivated by Bangura's color, race, or national
origin, rather than by legitimate hiring policies or
priorities. Finally, if the Court dismisses Bangura's
Title VII claims, defendants additionally urge the Court to
decline supplemental jurisdiction over the common law claims,
as is the court's prerogative under 28 U.S.C. §
It Is Too Late for Plaintiff to Challenge, Under Title VII,
Either His 2007 Designation as a Lecturer or
the Outcomes of His 2006 and 2013 Tenure-Track
are correct that plaintiff may not pursue Title VII relief
for employment practices that "occurred" more than
300 days before April 2015, when he made a charge of
discrimination to the EEOC. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1).
Plaintiff argues that the defendants are nonetheless
"potentially liable" for acts predating the 300
days, citing National Railroad Passenger Corp. v.
Morgan, 536 U.S. 101 (2002), as support. Unfortunately
for the plaintiff, that case unequivocally forecloses any
Title VII claims based on the events of 2006 through 2013.
National Railroad, the Court drew a distinction
between discrete employment acts and ongoing hostile work
environments, each of which can give rise to Title VII
claims. For a discrete employment act, the employer is
entitled after 300 days elapse to consider the lawfulness of
the act undisputed. Id. at 112 (quoting United
Air Lines, Inc. v. -Evans,431 U.S. 553, 558 (1977)).
The Court explained that "[d]iscrete acts such as
termination, failure to promote, denial of transfer, or
refusal to hire are easy to identify" and a plaintiff
may "only file a charge to cover discrete acts that
'occurred' within the appropriate time period."
Id. at 114. Bangura's attempt to challenge his
designation as a lecturer and the outcomes of his 2006 and
2013 tenure-track applications as part of an ongoing
discriminatory plan or a hostile work environment that
persisted through 2015 is inconsistent with the reasoning in
National Railroad. ...