United States District Court, District of Columbia
L. FRIEDRICH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
fall of 2016, Naomi Touvian informed her employer that she
would miss seven days of work in October to observe Jewish
holidays. Touvian alleges that a trio of adverse actions were
taken to retaliate against her for this and related events,
and she asserts retaliation claims under Title VII and the
D.C. Human Rights Act. Before the Court is the
defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the
motion in part and deny it in part.
District of Columbia Public Schools system (DCPS) hired Naomi
Touvian in the summer of 2016 as a speech pathologist at
Barnard Elementary School. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 14.
Touvian reported to Dr. Maribel Vargas, who supervised
Touvian's caseload and day-to-day activities, and to Ms.
Tiffany White, who served as Touvian's clinical
supervisor. Id. ¶ 16.
two weeks after beginning work, Touvian emailed Vargas and
White to request leave for seven days in October so that she
could observe the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom
Kippur, and Sukkot. Id. ¶¶ 17-19. A week
later, Vargas summoned Touvian to her office, explained that
“[i]t is a lot of days and I don't like it, ”
and said “I know there is nothing you can do about it,
but I am going to report it to your supervisor.”
Id. ¶ 22. Vargas then
“reprimand[ed]” Touvian and said she had emailed
the head of the Speech-Language Department to
“report” Touvian and to “express her
dissatisfaction” with Touvian's request.
Id. Touvian became upset and did not report to work
the next day; instead, she emailed Dr. Grace Reid, Barnard
Elementary's principal, and relayed the statements Vargas
had made. Id. ¶ 24.
Touvian returned to work on September 8, she was
“shunned by her coworkers, ” including Reid, as
“[o]ffice and administrative staff avoided her at every
turn” and “people physically turned away from
her.” Id. ¶ 25. She “received the
same unwelcome and cold treatment from her coworkers again on
September 9th.” Id. ¶ 27. Touvian felt it
was “impossible for her to continue working at
[Barnard], ” and she did not return. Id.
¶¶ 27-28. She was later transferred to two other
schools within the DCPS system. Id. ¶ 28.
September 20, Touvian and her attorneys met with DCPS
representatives-including Vargas and Reid-and Touvian
complained about the treatment she received from Vargas and
her coworkers. Id. ¶¶ 29-30. DCPS agreed
to “take certain steps” to avoid similar
incidents in the future, but to date, DCPS has “not
taken such actions” and has not come to any agreement
with Touvian. Id. ¶ 30.
continued to work at two other DCPS schools until December
2016, when she traveled abroad to care for a sick family
member. Id. ¶ 31. Upon her return in January
2017, DCPS informed Touvian that “her position . . .
was no longer available to her.” Id. Touvian
applied for other positions with DCPS between January and
March, and though she received one interview, she was never
offered a job. Id. ¶¶ 33, 39-41. Touvian
pursued administrative remedies with the EEOC, and after the
EEOC issued a dismissal and notice of rights, she brought
suit in this Court. Id. ¶¶ 43-46.
survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)] 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 quotations omitted); see also Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In analyzing a
12(b)(6) motion, the Court will construe the complaint
liberally in favor of the plaintiff and will grant the
plaintiff “the benefit of all inferences that can be
derived from the facts alleged, ” but the Court need
not accept legal conclusions or inferences unsupported by the
facts alleged. Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16
F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994); see also Browning v.
Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002); Ctr.
for Responsible Sci. v. Gottlieb, 311 F.Supp.3d 5, 8
(D.D.C. 2018). The Court will grant a motion to dismiss only
where a plaintiff's “well-pleaded factual
allegations, ” even if true, do not “plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679.
VII forbids employers from “discriminat[ing] against
any of [their] employees or applicants for employment . . .
because [the employee or applicant] has opposed any practice
made an unlawful employment practice by this
subchapter.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). To prevail on
a retaliation claim, a plaintiff must show:
(1) that he opposed a practice made unlawful by Title VII;
(2) that the employer took a materially adverse action
against him; and
(3) that the employer took the action “because”
the employee ...