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Nono v. The George Washington University

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 29, 2017

BERNARD NONO, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD J. LEON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Bernard Nono ("plaintiff or "Nono") brings this action against The George Washington University ("GWU" or "defendant"). Nono is a former GWU Police Department ('GWUPD") security officer who was suspended and terminated after he was charged with driving while impaired by alcohol (DWI). In his Amended Complaint, Nono asserts that GWU engaged in racial and national origin discrimination when it terminated and refused to rehire him, and brings additional claims alleging promissory estoppel and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 114-146 [Dkt. #11]. Currently before the Court is GWU's Partial Motion to Dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [Dkt. #13]. For the reasons stated below, I GRANT the Partial Motion to Dismiss the Complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         In his Amended Complaint, Nono alleges that he is a black male and native of Cameroon who is now a United States citizen. Am. Compl. at 2, ¶¶ 16-17. Nono worked as a GWUPD security officer from November 2005 until April 2012. Id. ¶¶ 23, 41, 55.

         On April 1, 2012, Nono was involved in a car accident and was charged with driving a vehicle while impaired ("DWI"). Id. ¶ 39. Nono reported the accident to GWUPD, and on April 2, 2012, he was suspended "pending an investigation regarding [his] conduct." Id. ¶¶ 40-41; 04/02/12 Suspension Letter [Dkt. #13-3]. As a result of his suspension, Mr. Nono was required to surrender his security officer's license, his locker room keys, and his identification card, and was instructed to stay away from his workplace. Am. Compl. ¶ 42. In December 2012, Mr. Nono's DWI charge went to trial in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County, where he received a probation before judgment ("PBJ") and 12 months unsupervised probation. Id. ¶¶ 46-47.

         Mr. Nono alleges that at some point during this period, GWUPD Police Chief Kevin Hay told him he needed to get a new security license from the Metropolitan Police Department's Security Officer's Management Branch ["SOMB"] before he could be reinstated. Id. ¶ 50. He applied for a new license, but the SOMB denied his application. Id. ¶¶ 51-52.

         On May 1, 2013, GWUPD terminated Nono. Id. ¶ 55. In August 2013, after Nono was terminated, D.C.'s Office of Administrative Hearings overturned the SOMB's decision on appeal and ordered the SOMB to reinstate Nono's security license. Id. ¶¶ 54, 59. Nono therefore re-applied for a GWUPD security officer position. Id. ¶ 60. He was interviewed in October 2013 but he was never hired. Id. ¶¶ 62, 81.

         Nono alleges that both his termination and GWUPD's refusal to rehire him were the result of racial and national origin discrimination. With respect to his termination, he alleges that GWUPD has failed to suspend or terminate other security officers, including two white officers, who were charged with DUIs or had their security licenses revoked. Id. ¶¶ 84-107. As to the refusal to rehire him, Nono asserts that GWUPD "has hired employees, including white [c]itizens, less qualified than [him]" and "has hired or maintained employees whose background check revealed far more egregious information than" Mr. Nono's DWI charge. Id. ¶¶ 82-83.

         Nono filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on October 7, 2014. Id. ¶ 6. He instituted this action on March 21, 2016. Compl. [Dkt. #1].

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must ascertain whether the complaint contains "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 marks omitted). The Court must read the complaint's factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Bell Atlantic Co v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), but the Court is not required to accept "a legal conclusion couched in the form of a factual allegation" or "threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements, supported by mere conclusory statements." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Furthermore, a claim that is rooted in a faulty legal theory must be dismissed, "without regard to whether it is based on an outlandish legal theory or on a close but ultimately unavailing one." Nietzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).

         At the motion to dismiss stage, "the court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached thereto or incorporated therein, and matters of which it may take judicial notice." Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. v. Chao, 508 F.3d 1052, 1059 (D.C. Cir. 2007).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Count I Must Be Dismissed in ...


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