United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN United States District Judge
Roger Williams is a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority (“WMATA”) bus operator and a member of
the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689
(“Union”). WMATA and the Union are parties to a
Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), and
Plaintiff alleges that WMATA violated the terms of the CBA
when it accused him of violating its periodic drug testing
guidelines and subsequently suspended him. He further alleges
that the Union breached its duty of fair representation by
failing to take the matter to arbitration and instead
entering into a settlement agreement without his knowledge
and without an investigation. WMATA and the Union have moved
for dismissal of Plaintiff's lawsuit. For the reasons set
forth below, the court will GRANT both
is a WMATA bus driver who, on March 15, 2013, received a
letter from WMATA scheduling a Department of Transportation
(“DOT”) required medical examination for March
18, 2013. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-19). Plaintiff appeared
for the examination and, prior to leaving, received WMATA
documents indicating that his “evaluation [wa]s
complete” and that he was approved for return to duty
without restrictions. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 21-23; Pls.
Resp. to Union Mot. at Ex. A.). After leaving the medical
examination, however, he received a telephone call from one
of the staff members at the medical facility informing him he
needed to return to finish a urine drug test. (Union Ex. 1).
Approximately five minutes later, Plaintiff received another
telephone call from the medical facility informing him that
everything was fine and there was no need for him return.
following day, March 19, 2013, WMATA issued a Memorandum to
the Plaintiff telling him that he was being suspended without
pay for 180 days because he violated “WMATA
Policy/Instruction: P/17.21/4.17(B) Refusal to Test, ”
by failing to “[r]emain at the testing site until the
[drug] testing process [w]as completed.” (Pls. Resp. to
Union Mot. at Ex. B). As a result of this alleged failure,
Plaintiff was suspended and WMATA required that he enroll in
the Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”) or face
discharge. (Id.; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25, 27).
enrolled in the EAP, which required that he attend substance
abuse education twice a week and submit to periodic drug
testing. (Id. ¶¶ 30-32). He attended the
education programs, passed all of his fourteen drug tests,
and returned to work sometime after July 31, 2013.
(Id. ¶¶ 33-36).
the time he enrolled in the EAP, Plaintiff filed a grievance
over the suspension based on WMATA's finding that he had
refused to comply with the drug testing policy. (Union Ex.
1). The Union did not communicate with Plaintiff about the
grievance until approximately one year later, on March 13,
2014, when he was notified that the grievance had been
settled, but was not told the terms of the settlement. (Pls.
Resp. to Union Mot. at Ex. D., Williams Decl.; Am. Compl.
¶ 41). Plaintiff advised the Union that anything less
than exoneration was unacceptable. (Pls. Resp. to Union Mot.
at Ex. D., Williams Decl.). Nonetheless, WMATA subsequently
deposited the settlement proceeds ($8, 434.11) in his bank
account. (Id.; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 44-45).
28, 2014, Plaintiff's attorney sent a letter to WMATA
contesting the suspension and rejecting the settlement. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 48-51). Included with the letter was a
cashier's check in the amount of the settlement.
(Id.) A WMATA representative signed for the letter
on July 30, 2014. (Id. ¶ 52). The check was
never returned to Plaintiff and the Union failed to respond
to his “numerous inquiries” about his rejection
of the settlement. (Id. ¶¶ 53-54). The
parties do not indicate whether WMATA endorsed the check.
than six months later, on March 16, 2015, Plaintiff filed a
complaint against WMATA and the Union in District of Columbia
Superior Court, asserting claims for negligence, intentional
infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty,
fraud, conspiracy, and negligent supervision and training.
(ECF No. 1at ECF pp. 3-15). The Defendants removed the action
to this court and Plaintiff subsequently obtained leave to
amend his complaint. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff
raises twelve claims, which he appears to assert pursuant to
state law. The Union seeks dismissal of this action
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and
WMATA seeks dismissal pursuant to both 12(b)(6) and
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim “tests the legal sufficiency of a
complaint.” Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235,
242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). “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 marks and citation omitted). In
most instances, when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court
may “consider only the facts alleged in the complaint,
any documents either attached to or incorporated in the
complaint and matters of which [the Court] may take judicial
notice.” EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial
Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Additionally,
“the Court may consider documents specifically
referenced in the complaint where the authenticity of the
document is not questioned.” United Mine Workers of
Am., Int'l Union v. Dye, No. CIV.A. 06-1053(JDB),
2006 WL 2460717, at *6 (D.D.C. Aug. 23, 2006); see also
N.Y. State Bar Ass'n v. FTC, 276 F.Supp.2d 110, 114
n.6 (D.D.C. 2003) (noting that “a document is not
‘outside' the complaint if the complaint
specifically refers to the document and if its authenticity
is not questioned”) (quoting Cooper v.
Pickett, 137 F.3d 616, 622-23 (9th Cir. 1997)).
Hybrid Section 301 Claims & Preemption
Plaintiff does not explicitly assert a federal hybrid Section
301/fair representation claim, the court construes his
complaint as alleging such because he charges WMATA
“with breach of the collective bargaining agreement and
charges the union with breaching its statutory duty of fair
representation.” See Simmons v. Howard Univ.,
157 F.3d 914, 916 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (citing DelCostello v.
Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 165 (1983)).
If a plaintiff brings such a claim along with state law
claims based on similar conduct, the court must examine
whether the state law claims are preempted by the hybrid
Section 301 claim. See Brown v. Gino Morena
Enters., 44 F.Supp.2d 41, 50 (D.D.C. 1999) (“[T]he
Court must first determine whether plaintiffs [state law
claims] are indeed pendent claims or whether they are
preempted by § 301.”) (citing Lingle v. Norge
Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 405-06 (1988));
see May v. Shuttle, Inc., 129 F.3d 165, 179 (D.C.
Cir. 1997). As a court in this district has noted:
A plaintiff . . . cannot wiggle out from under the shadow of
the [federal labor law statute] through clever pleading-for
example, by framing a claim as a breach of contract rather
than an unfair labor practice. “Pre-emption is designed
to shield the system from conflicting regulation of
conduct It is the conduct being regulated, not
the formal description of governing legal standards, that is
the proper focus.”
Jackson v. Teamsters Local Union 922, 991 F.Supp.2d
71, 78 (D.D.C. 2014) (emphasis in original) (citations and
Preempted Claims Asserted Against WMATA
claims against WMATA include
. breach of contract (e.g., WMATA breached
the CBA by lodging unfounded allegations against Plaintiff
and disciplining him; WMATA entered into a settlement
agreement even though it knew the refusal to test allegation
was false) (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 77-78);
. wrongful suspension (e.g., WMATA suspended
Plaintiff even though he had fully complied with the WMATA
DOT physical examination requirements) (Id. ¶
. negligence (e.g., WMATA failed to employ
necessary and reasonable measures when it made a notation on
the EAP form that he had refused to test; WMATA carelessly
and recklessly suspended Plaintiff even though he fully
complied with the WMATA DOT physical examination
requirements) (Id. ¶¶ 108, 110);
. fraudulent concealment (e.g., WMATA and
the Union fraudulently concealed non-action on the plaintiffs
request to reject the Settlement ...