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Hudson v. American Federation of Government Employees

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 10, 2018

EUGENE HUDSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JAMES E. BOASBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In 2012, Plaintiff Eugene Hudson became the first black person elected to serve as National Secretary-Treasurer for Defendant American Federation of Government Employees. Despite being re-elected in 2015, he claims that the Union mistreated him, and ultimately fired him, because of his race in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983. AFGE now moves to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Agreeing that the bulk of his allegations either fail to pass the relatively undemanding Rule 12(b)(6) standard or are barred under the doctrine of claim-splitting, the Court will largely grant the Motion.

         I. Background

         The parties are not strangers to this Court. Although generally on a motion to dismiss a court may not look outside of the pleadings, it “may take judicial notice of other cases including the same subject matter or questions of a related nature between the same parties.” Veg-Mix, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 832 F.2d 601, 607 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (citation omitted); Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001) (court may take judicial notice of other opinions involving the same parties without converting motion to dismiss into motion for summary judgment “not for the truth of the facts recited therein, but for the existence of the opinion”) (citation omitted); EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (court may consider “matters of which [it] may take judicial notice” in deciding motion to dismiss). It still must, however, treat the facts in Plaintiff's Complaint as true. Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

         A. Factual History

         AFGE is a national labor organization representing over 1000 federal and D.C. government employees. See Compl., ¶ 17. The Union's governing body, the National Executive Council, consists of the National President, the National Secretary-Treasurer, the National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices, and the National Vice Presidents for the 12 AFGE districts. Id., ¶ 18. The President and the NST are the top two positions in the organization. Id., ¶ 15. Plaintiff was elected to serve as NST for two consecutive three-year terms beginning in 2012. Id., ¶¶ 14-15. After taking office, Hudson alleges that “AFGE President J. David Cox and his staff harassed [him] on the basis of his race and created a hostile work environment.” Id., ¶ 20.

         Although Plaintiff contends that this discriminatory and abusive behavior had been ongoing “[s]ince 2012, ” id., ¶ 20, all of the conduct alleged in the Complaint occurred in the last two years. Over the course of the latter half of 2016, Cox systematically and “unilaterally stripped” Hudson of many of his NST duties. Id., ¶ 24. First, in June, without receiving approval from the NEC, Cox took away Hudson's supervisory responsibilities for the Information Services department. Id., ¶¶ 23-25. The following month, after Hudson questioned NEC members about travel expenses, his “investigations” became a heated discussion topic at an NEC retreat. Id., ¶ 32. In August, Cox “issued a memorandum stating that he would be the sole authority for all NEC members' travel vouchers, except for his own.” Id., ¶ 34. By the end of 2016, Cox had “removed” Hudson “from all chairmanships.” Id., ¶ 35. Also, at some point, Plaintiff recommended a promotion for a black member of his staff, which Cox denied. Id., ¶¶ 28-29.

         Cox's onslaught against Plaintiff continued into the next year. In January 2017, federal employees received a salary increase to reflect the increased cost of living. AFGE employees, who are pegged to the same scale, also received a bump. In contrast to “the full Cost of Living Adjustment 2.88%” that Cox gave himself and an NVP (both white), the Union President only “gave Plaintiff . . . a 2.48% increase.” Id., ¶¶ 22, 26-27.

         The internal strife reached a breaking point after an NVP filed a charge against Hudson. Pursuant to Union protocol, AFGE convened a Committee of Investigation in July 2017. Id., ¶¶ 36-37. The COI considered five charges, dismissing all but one. Id., ¶¶ 38-39. It “found probable cause that a November 15, 2016[, ] email that [Plaintiff] sent to AFGE members concerning President Donald Trump's election constituted malfeasance” under the Union Constitution. Id., ¶ 39. In August, the NEC met and “found NST Hudson guilty based on the single . . . charge, ” id., ¶ 41, and made the unprecedented decision to remove him from office. Id., ¶ 16 (“Plaintiff is the first national officer of any race in the history of the AFGE to have been removed from elected office.”).

         B. Litigation

         On September 12, 2017, Hudson filed a lawsuit, alleging that his discharge violated the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) and the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). See Hudson v. AFGE, No. 17-1867. There was no mention that his race played any role at all in AFGE's actions. The LMRDA suit, which is still pending before this Court, has taken many twists and turns including the granting (and subsequent vacating) of Plaintiff's first Motion for Preliminary Injunction, see Hudson v. AFGE, 2017 WL 5449806 (D.D.C. Nov. 9, 2017), the dismissal of three of the four counts, see Hudson v. AFGE, 2018 WL 707431 (D.D.C. Feb. 5, 2018), the denial of a second Motion for Preliminary Injunction as moot, see Minute Order of February 20, 2018, the permitting of the filing of an amended complaint, id., and, most recently, the denial of Plaintiff's third Motion for Preliminary Injunction. See Hudson v. AFGE, 2018 WL 1587473 (D.D.C. Apr. 2, 2018).

         On July 10, 2017, Hudson filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See Compl., ¶ 8, ECF No. 1-3. The EEOC issued him a right-to-sue letter the next day. See ECF No. 1-4. On October 10, 2017 - one month after filing his LMRDA action - Plaintiff brought this four-count suit, alleging employment discrimination, retaliation, a hostile work environment, and “pretextual discrimination.” He seeks “retroactive reinstatement as NST, with all attendant back pay, benefits[, ] and other emoluments of employment, ” and $300, 000 in compensatory damages. See Compl. at 8. Plaintiff's discrimination case was reassigned to this Court as related, as it was already presiding over the LMRDA matter. See ECF No. 7. Defendant now moves to dismiss.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of an action where a complaint fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Although the notice pleading rules are “not meant to impose a great burden on a plaintiff, ” Dura Pharm., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 337 (2005), and “detailed factual allegations” are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, [if] 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). Plaintiff must put forth “factual content that allows the ...


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