United States District Court, District of Columbia
A. HOWELL, Chief Judge
plaintiff, Theresa Williams, brought a Complaint against the
defendant, Chugach Alaska Corporation, alleging common law
wrongful termination of her employment and infliction of
emotional distress. Compl. ¶¶ 23-24, ECF No. 5-1.
Pending before the Court is the defendant's Motion to
Dismiss the Complaint (“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF
No. 7, and the plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint and
Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
(“Pl.'s Mot. Amend.”), ECF No. 10. For the
reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion is
granted and, because the proposed amendment would be futile,
the plaintiff's motion is denied.
following facts, taken from the Complaint and the Proposed
Amended Complaint, ECF No. 10-1, will be assumed as true for
purposes of the pending motions. The Proposed Amended
Complaint asserts only a single claim for wrongful
termination, bolstered by new factual allegations, Proposed
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-13, omits certain facts contained
in the original Complaint, and drops the plaintiff's
original claim for infliction of emotional distress. To aid
in resolving both the defendant's motion to dismiss and
the plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended
complaint, the factual allegations supporting both filings
are set out below.
plaintiff was an employee at the Potomac Job Corps Center
(“PJCC”), from December 2008 until her
termination on October 3, 2014. Compl. ¶ 5. The
defendant began operating the PJCC, pursuant to a contract
with the Department of Labor (“DOL”), in May
2011, and employed plaintiff as a “Recreation
Manager” until her termination. Id. ¶ 5.
The Proposed Amended Complaint describes two incidents.
first incident allegedly occurred in August 2014, when the
plaintiff and Fred Rowe, who was the Community Living
Director and the plaintiff's supervisor, found themselves
at loggerheads about a matter involving use of funds.
Specifically, PJCC was “planning to celebrate 50 years
of service.” Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 5. Rowe
instructed the plaintiff to contact a graphic designer to
design banners to mark the occasion and to order the banners
by August 25, 2014. Id. ¶ 6. The plaintiff
contracted with FedEx to produce the banners at a cost of
approximately $1060.00. Id. ¶ 7. Rowe approved
the amount and paid for the banners from the funds allocated
for the plaintiff's recreation activities. Id.
plaintiff objected to this use of funds on the ground that
PJCC was not permitted to “transfer funds from one
budget . . . category to another without getting approval
from the DOL Regional Office, ” and that the PJCC had
not obtained that approval. Id. ¶¶ 9-10.
According to the plaintiff, the “PJC[C], pursuant to
OBM [sic] Circular 136, is restricted as it relates to
illegal transfers between line items, ” and that
“[n]o funds can be removed from one line item
(department) without the permission of the regional Job Corps
Office.” Id. ¶¶ 12-13. Nonetheless,
the plaintiff alleges that she was ordered by Rowe, along
with Roxanne Chin, PJCC's Director, to “expend
recreation resources for the 50th Anniversary
banners.” Id. ¶¶ 5, 10.
second incident related to the plaintiff's duty at PJCC
to arrange monthly “incentive activit[ies], ”
such as lunches, dinners, laser tag, or movies, for student
volunteers who helped in cleaning the recreation center.
Compl. ¶¶ 9-10; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶¶
15-16. According to the plaintiff, this was “a practice
for the last four years.” Compl. ¶ 9; Proposed Am.
Compl. ¶ 15. To arrange payment for these incentive
activities, the plaintiff submitted purchase orders to Deepa
Gorge, Administrative Assistant to Rowe, whose approval was
required for each purchase order she submitted. Compl. ¶
8; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 14.
prior” to September's incentive activity, which was
dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, the plaintiff submitted a
purchase order to Gorge. Compl. ¶ 11; Proposed Am.
Compl. ¶ 17. In addition “an email was
forwarded” to Rowe, and he approved the activity.
Compl. ¶ 12; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 18. On September
12, 2014, the students were informed of the dinner, and the
plaintiff requested the funds for the dinner from Gorge.
Compl. ¶ 13; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 19. At that
time, Gorge “shared that she had forgotten to complete
the purchase order for the funds.” Compl. ¶ 13;
Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 19 (stating “the purchase
order for the funds were never completed”). The
plaintiff explains she “was disturbed, ” noting
that the cafeteria was closed and thus the students would
have no food unless the plaintiff purchased it for them, and
“because of policy, she would not be reimbursed.”
Compl. ¶ 14; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 20.
plaintiff subsequently discussed the situation with Rowe in
his office. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16; Proposed Am. Compl.
¶ 22 (plaintiff “protested against the lack of
funds”). During this conversation, which took place
before two other people, Rowe “used the word
‘Hell' and hit the desk with his fist.”
Compl. ¶¶ 15-16. He accused the plaintiff of
“ordering food without permission.” Id.
¶ 16. While walking out of Rowe's office, and not in
the presence of Rowe, the plaintiff, “to herself, said
this is some ‘BS.'” Id. ¶ 17.
Sometime later, in response to a question by Grace Jibril,
Human Resources Manager, the plaintiff denied that she had
“curse[d] at her supervisor, ” and Rowe agreed
that “no profanity had been used.” Id.
¶¶ 19-20. Nevertheless, the plaintiff was put on
administrative leave for three weeks starting on September
15, 2014, and was subsequently terminated on October 3, 2014,
on the ground that she had violated Chugach Alaska
Corporation Policies and Procedures, Policy B-2, Section: 6.
Id. ¶¶ 21-22.
months after her termination, the plaintiff filed a
complaint, on November 20, 2015, against the defendant in the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia, alleging wrongful
termination and emotional distress on the basis of the
reimbursement incident. Id. at 1, ¶ 23-24.
After removing the case to this Court, Notice of Removal, ECF
No. 1, the defendant moved to dismiss the complaint,
Def.'s Mot. As part of her opposition to dismissal, the
plaintiff moved to amend her original complaint, Pl.'s
Mot. Amend., which motion the defendant opposes as futile.
Def.'s Mem. Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Am. Compl.
(“Def.'s Opp'n”) at 2-3, 5, ECF No. 11.
The defendant's motion to dismiss and the plaintiff's
motion to amend are now ripe for consideration.
MOTION TO DISMISS
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the “complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Wood v.
Moss, 134 S.Ct. 2056, 2067 (2014) (quoting Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim is facially
plausible when the plaintiff pleads factual content that is
more than “‘merely consistent with' a
defendant's liability, ” but “allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 556-57 (2007)); see also Rudder v.
Williams, 666 F.3d 790, 794 (D.C. Cir. 2012). Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required
to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must offer
“more than labels and conclusions” or a
“formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” to provide “grounds” of
“entitle[ment] to relief, ” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555, and ...