United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Trina Congress was previously employed as a teacher's
aide by the District of Columbia Public Schools
(“DCPS”). Compl. ¶ 11. Following her
dismissal in May 2015, Congress brought suit against the
District of Columbia alleging that DCPS had discriminated
against her because of her disability, in violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. § 12112; the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §
794; and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act
(“DCHRA”), D.C. Code § 2-1402.11. The
District has moved to dismiss Congress's claims, arguing
that she either failed to adequately exhaust her
administrative remedies, failed to file suit within the
statute of limitations, or failed to state a plausible claim.
The Court will grant most of the District's motion, but
will deny it solely with respect to Congress's hostile
work environment claim raised under the Rehabilitation Act.
Court draws the following facts from the allegations in
Congress's complaint and accepts them as true for
purposes of this motion. Congress was hired by DCPS as an
Education Aide (or Teacher's Aide) on December 5, 2011.
Compl. ¶ 11. At the time of her hiring, Congress had
pre-existing nerve damage to her back, feet, shoulder, hands,
and hips. Id. Commencing in September 2013,
Congress's supervisor, Abdullah Zaki, denied her request
for a key to use the elevator instead of the stairs.
Id. ¶ 12. Additionally, her coworkers would
park in the handicapped parking spaces and thereby prevent
her from being able to park in one. Id. ¶ 13.
On January 29, 2015, Congress was attacked and hit hard on
her neck by a student. Id. ¶ 16. Her supervisor
repeatedly refused to sign paperwork necessary for Congress
to receive medications for her pre-existing conditions and
for needs related to the January incident. Id.
October 2014, Congress complained to her union that the
District was illegally forcing her to cover classes despite
her lack of a teaching certification. Id. ¶ 14.
The next month, on November 10, 2014, the District informed
Congress that she was the target of a residency fraud
investigation that was closed on July 22, 2013. Id.
¶ 15. Congress was subsequently terminated from her job
on May 6, 2015, allegedly because of residency fraud.
Id. ¶ 18.
filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) on July 27, 2015, raising a
charge of failure to accommodate and retaliation. Def.'s
Mot. Dismiss Ex. A. The EEOC sent Congress a notice of her
right to file suit on October 14, 2016. Id. However,
Congress did not receive the notice until she physically went
to the EEOC office on January 23, 2017. Compl. ¶ 1. She
filed suit against the District on May 15, 2017.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), 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) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Such factual plausibility requires “factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. When addressing a motion to
dismiss, the Court “must take all of the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, ” id.,
and “constru[e] the complaint liberally in the
plaintiff's favor with the benefit of all reasonable
inferences derived from the facts alleged.” Stewart
v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 471 F.3d 169, 173 (D.C.
Cir. 2006). The Court “may consider the facts alleged
in the complaint, documents attached thereto or incorporated
therein, and matters of which it may take judicial
motion to dismiss for a plaintiff's failure to exhaust
administrative remedies is “properly addressed as [a]
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.”
Scott v. Dist. Hosp. Partners, 60 F.Supp.3d 156, 161
(D.D.C. 2014). Since failure to exhaust remedies is an
affirmative defense, “the defendant bears the burden of
pleading and proving it.” Bowden v. United
States, 106 F.3d 433, 437 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Each of the
three statutes that plaintiff brings claims under-the ADA,
the Rehabilitation Act, and the DCHRA-has its own set of
requirements for exhaustion and its own statute of
the ADA: The exhaustion requirements for Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act govern administrative exhaustion under the
ADA. See 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a). Within 180 days
of the allegedly unlawful employment practice, a plaintiff
must file a charge with the EEOC. Id. §
2000e-5(e)(1). The EEOC investigates the plaintiff's
claim and, once the investigation concludes, issues a right
to sue notice or provides a final decision to the plaintiff.
Id. § 2000e-5(b). The plaintiff must then bring
a federal suit within 90 days of receiving the right to file
notice or final decision. Id. § 2000e-5(f)(1).
the Rehabilitation Act: Whether exhaustion of administrative
remedies is required before bringing suit under the
Rehabilitation Act is an open question in this Circuit.
See, e.g., Minter v. District of Columbia,
62 F.Supp.3d 149, 164 (D.D.C. 2014). The Rehabilitation Act
incorporates the “remedies, procedures, and rights set
forth in title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” and
in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(3). 29 U.S.C. § 794a. The
only specific section of Title VII referenced in the
Rehabilitation Act concerns back pay calculations and not
administrative remedies. See 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(e)(3). Title VI, in contrast to Title VII, does not
contain a requirement to exhaust administrative remedies.
See, e.g., Freed v. Consol. Rail Corp., 201
F.3d 188, 191 (3d Cir. 2000); Neighborhood Action Coal.
v. City of Canton, 882 F.2d 1012, 1015 (6th Cir. 1989).
Because the Rehabilitation Act expressly incorporates Title
VI and only one specific provision of Title VII, neither of
which require exhaustion of administrative remedies, the
Court finds more persuasive the interpretation that the
Rehabilitation Act does not require exhaustion of
administrative remedies. See, e.g., Minter,
62 F.Supp.3d at 164; Adams v. District of Columbia,
740 F.Supp.2d 173, 181-82 (D.D.C. 2010).
unsettled in this Circuit is the question of what statute of
limitations applies to Rehabilitation Act claims. See,
e.g., Alexander v. Washington Metro. Area Transit
Auth., 826 F.3d 544, 551 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (per curiam).
Since the Rehabilitation Act does not itself specify a
statute of limitations, “courts generally ‘borrow
one from an analogous state cause of action.'”
Id. There are two possible statutes of limitations
to borrow here: the three-year statute for personal injury
actions under D.C. law or the one-year statute in the DCHRA.
See id. If the one-year statute applies, so too does
the DCHRA's tolling provision. Id. The
three-year statute contains no tolling provision.
See D.C. Code. § 12-301(8).
the DCHRA: There is no exhaustion requirement specified in
the DCHRA. See D.C. Code § 2-1402.11. A
one-year statute of limitations applies to DCHRA claims. D.C.
Code. § 2-1403.16. This statute of limitations is
tolled, however, by the “timely filing of a
complaint” for the period of time the complaint is
pending. Id. Because of a work-sharing agreement
between the EEOC and D.C.'s analogous agency, complaints
timely filed with the EEOC toll the DCHRA statute of
limitations. Jaiyeola v. District of Columbia, 40
A.3d 356, 369 (D.C. 2012); see also Alexander, 826
F.3d at 551.