United States District Court, District of Columbia
ANDREW H. FARRAR, Plaintiff,
ROBERT L. WILKIE, et al., Defendants.
E. Boasberg, United States District Judge
se Plaintiff Andrew H. Farrar believes that his former
employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs, discriminated
against and ultimately fired him. He has a series of
grievances that he brings under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act. Defendants now move
to dismiss on the ground that Farrar has failed to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. Because
Plaintiff's allegations are indeed far too cursory, the
Court will grant the Motion, but give him a chance to cure
the defects with an Amended Complaint.
worked for the VA from March 27, 2011, until August 4, 2017.
See ECF No. 1 (Complaint), ¶ 13. The second
paragraph of his Complaint contains virtually all of his
relevant factual allegations, so it is worth quoting in full:
Plaintiff prays for relief from this court from
discriminatory employment actions taken against Plaintiff by
the Department of Veterans Affairs (herein, DVA or
Defendant). Plaintiff asserts Defendant refused to provide
effective reasonable accommodation for the functional
limitations of Plaintiff's disability, Defendant denied
Plaintiff equal opportunities to income including
opportunities to earn overtime and performance awards, and
dictated unequal terms and conditions of employment on the
basis of Plaintiff's opposition to employment
discrimination and on the basis of Plaintiff's
disability. Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant denied
Plaintiff equal opportunity for promotion, other career
advancements and for employment at the GS-14 pay level.
Additionally, in retaliation for opposing employment
discrimination and on the basis of disability, Defendant
fomented a hostile work environment, physically intimidated,
relentlessly threatened, harassed, and unjustly punished
Plaintiff. Defendant perpetrated a protracted campaign
lasting several years and constantly shuffled managerial
employees in an effort to obscure the roles of the employees
who sought to intentionally discriminate against Plaintiff.
Defendant's abusive and discriminatory conduct culminated
on August 4, 2017 when Defendant deprived Plaintiff of his
tenured federal career.
Id., ¶ 12. In describing his disability, he
states that it is “a mental disability that impairs
major life activities; a chronic adjustment disorder other
than post-traumatic stress disorder.” Id.,
¶ 2 n.1. Here, unfortunately, the pertinent facts end.
Farrar devotes the rest of his Complaint to providing very
detailed facts about the structure of the VA's
administration and the employment history of various
Defendants, but does not offer any other facts about the
alleged discriminatory conduct, his disability, or the
connection between the two. Id., ¶¶ 3-56.
aware of the abbreviated nature of his pleading, he appears
to have planned to amend his Complaint. In fact, his
“Statement of Claim” section reads in its
entirety: “Specific allegations of unlawful
discrimination supported by enumerated indisputable material
facts are forthcoming.” Id., ¶ 57. The
Court also previously granted Defendants an extension of time
to respond, noting that Farrar might well amend his
Complaint. See Minute Order (May 10, 2019).
Plaintiff, however, has submitted no such amendment.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is thus now ripe for the
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a Court to dismiss
any count of a complaint that fails “to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” At the
motion-to-dismiss stage, the factual allegations presented in
a complaint must be presumed true and should be liberally
construed in the plaintiff's favor. See Browning v.
Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). Although
pleading rules are “not meant to impose a great burden
on a plaintiff, ” Dura Pharm., Inc. v. Broudo,
544 U.S. 336, 347 (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 omitted). Plaintiff must put forth
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged, ” and there must be “more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
Farrar's pro se status, the Court must construe
his Complaint liberally. See Turner v. Corr. Corp. of
Am., 56 F.Supp.3d 32, 35 (D.D.C. 2014). Even so, he has
failed to provide enough to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. In order to overcome a motion to dismiss on a
discrimination claim, he need not plead all elements of a
prima facie case in his Complaint, see Gordon v.
U.S. Capitol Police, 778 F.3d 158, 161-62 (D.C. Cir.
2015), but he still must give the Court enough facts about
“what . . . [, ] who . . . [, ] and how” that
make such a claim plausible. Arnold v. Speer, 251
F.Supp.3d 269, 273 (D.D.C. 2017). Discrimination
complainants, moreover, must connect “the adverse
actions of which [they] complain” to allegations of
discrimination. Id. Likewise, a plaintiff with a
reasonable-accommodation claim cannot succeed without
alleging “what accommodations he needs, were requested,
and were denied.” Sindram v. Kelly, 2008 WL
3523161, at *4 (D.D.C. Aug. 13, 2008).
however, has not given the Court any facts about the adverse
employment action or alleged any facts connecting it to his
disability. Neither has he alleged what accommodation he
needed, requested, and was unreasonably denied. For these
reasons, he has failed to present facts in the Complaint
“enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The paucity of facts means that the Court cannot conclude
that VA misconduct is more than a “sheer
possibility.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Plaintiff, now instructed, may be able to allege facts
sufficient to state a claim - at least as to some of his
grievances - the Court will give him an opportunity to amend.
Instead of dismissing the entire action, the Court will
dismiss only the Complaint and give Farrar another chance to
make the showing set out above. See Ciralsky v. CIA,
355 F.3d 661, 666-67 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (examining difference
between dismissing complaint and entire action).
Plaintiff decides to amend his Complaint, he should be aware
of a number of other particular issues. First, in Title VII
suits, “[t]he only proper defendant . . . is the head
of the department, agency, or unit in which the allegedly
discriminatory acts transpired.” Hackley v.
Roudebush, 520 F.2d 108, 115 n.17 (D.C. Cir. 1975)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The rule is
the same for claims under the Rehabilitation Act. See
Paegle v. Dep't of Interior, 813 F.Supp. 61, 64 n.2
(D.D.C. 1993); accord Buie v. Berrien, 85 F.Supp.3d
161, 171 ...