United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. MCFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
Library of Congress did not hire Marcus Haynes when he
applied for a reference librarian position. Mr. Haynes
alleges that, in rejecting his application, the Library
discriminated against him based on his disability and
retaliated against him based on earlier Equal Employment
Opportunity complaints he filed against the Library. The
Library has moved for a judgment on the pleadings. For
reasons given below, the Court will grant the Library's
motion in part.
Haynes worked for the Library for nine years before the
Library fired him in 2001 for performance issues. Compl. at
5; ECF No. 1. In 2017, Mr. Haynes re-applied for a Library
position as a reference librarian, specializing in music.
Id. The Library did not hire him. Id. at 1.
Alleging discrimination and retaliation, Mr. Haynes filed an
informal complaint and then a formal complaint with the
Library's Equal Employment Opportunity
(“EEO”) Office. Id. at 2.
Haynes, proceeding pro se, now seeks relief in
federal court, alleging that the Library refused to hire him
as a “reprisal for [his] prior complaint and to
discriminate against [his] disability.” Compl. at 1.
While far from clear, it seems that he is alleging that when
he worked for the Library before, he sought accommodations
based on disability, but the Library denied his requests.
See generally Compl. at 1. In response, he filed
complaints against the Library in 2000 and again in 2012.
Id. at 2. So, according to Mr. Haynes, the Library
rejected his 2017 application to retaliate against him
because of these earlier complaints. Id. at
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) states that “[a]fter the
pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the
trial, any party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The Court evaluates a
Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under the
same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See
Rollins v. Wackenhut Servs., Inc., 703 F.3d 122, 130
(D.C. Cir. 2012) (treating a Rule 12(c) motion as
“functionally equivalent to a Rule 12(b)(6)
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a
complaint must contain enough factual allegations that, if
true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). Plausibility requires that a complaint raise
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). Pleading facts that are “merely
consistent with” a defendant's liability
“stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545-46.
Thus, courts do not accept the truth of legal conclusions or
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
courts must accept the nonmovant's allegations as true
and view the facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Clinton, 880
F.Supp. 1, 7 (D.D.C. 1995). Consideration is limited to
“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.”
Hurd v. D.C., Gov't, 864 F.3d 671, 678 (D.C.
Cir. 2017). And the moving party bears the burden of showing
the complaint's insufficiency. Cohen v. Bd. of Trs.
of the Distr. of Columbia, 819 F.3d 476, 481 (D.C. Cir.
Library urges the Court to dismiss Mr. Haynes's
Complaint, arguing that Mr. Haynes failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. Mot. for Judgment on the Pleadings
(“Mot.”) at 6- 9; ECF No. 16. According to the
Library, it rejected Mr. Haynes's job application on
November 21, 2017 because it determined that he did not have
the knowledge, skills, and abilities for the position. Mot.
at 4. Under the Library's regulations, staff members and
qualified applicantsmust file an administrative complaint with
the EEO Office within 45 days of the alleged discriminatory
event. See Library of Congress
Regulation (“LCR”) 11-310, Resolving
Complaints of Discrimination at 3; ECF No. 16-1. The
Library argues that Mr. Haynes, thus, missed his deadline by
four days because he did not file his complaint until January
9, 2018. Mot. at 5.
filing a lawsuit under Title VII, plaintiffs must exhaust
their administrative remedies. See Park v. Howard
University, 71 F.3d 904, 907 (D.C. Cir. 1995). As the
Library acknowledges, “untimely exhaustion of Title VII
administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, [so] the
defendant bears the burden of pleading and proving it.”
Rosier v. Holder, 833 F.Supp.2d 1, 5 (D.D.C. 2011)
(quoting Bowden v. United States, 106 F.3d 433, 437
(D.C. Cir. 1997)).
Library points out, its regulation largely mirrors EEOC's
regulation: “An aggrieved person must initiate contact
with a Counselor within 45 days of the date of the matter
alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of personnel
action, within 45 days of the effective date of the
action.” 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1). But the
deadline tolls if the aggrieved person “did not know
and reasonably ...