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Jackson v. District Hospital Partner, L.P.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 1, 2019

IBIN QADIR JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT HOSPITAL PARTNERS, LP. doing business as GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On July 16, 2018, pro se plaintiff Ibin Qadir Jackson brought this action in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia against defendant District Hospital Partners, LP, d/b/a The George Washington University Hospital ("GWUH"), alleging that he "was wrongfully terminated for briefly . . . raising [his] voice in relation to being coerced and forced to work on 1 of the only 2 official holidays in the Mulsim [sic] religion." Ex. A to Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1-2] ("Compl.") at 1. He attached to his complaint an unsworn and undated U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "Charge of Discrimination" form that accused defendant of discriminating against him based on race, sex, religion, and retaliation in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Id. at 4. Plaintiff seeks lost wages from July 2016 to November 2017. Id. at 1; Resp. to Def 's Mot. [Dkt. # 9] ("Pl.'s Opp.") at 2.

         On August 23, 2018, defendant removed this action pursuant to the Court's federal question jurisdiction, and it simultaneously moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1] ¶ 9; Civil Cover Sheet [Dkt. # 1-1]. Plaintiff opposed that motion, maintaining that he stated a claim against defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and "religious accommodation law." Pl.'s Opp. At 1. Defendant did not file a reply in support of its motion. For the reasons stated below, the Court will deny defendant's motion to dismiss and will allow plaintiffs Title VII disparate treatment claim, 42U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), and retaliation claim, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), to move forward.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court accepts the following factual allegations in prose plaintiff s filings as true, as it must at this stage. Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000). Plaintiff is a Muslim, African-American male who was formerly employed as an orderly, also known as a "float technician," by GWUH. Ex. B to Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1-3] ("Charge of Discrimination") at 1. In his three-sentence complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was wrongfully terminated in July 2016:

I was wrongfully terminated for briefly (10 seconds) raising my voice in relation to being coerced and forced to work on 1 of the only 2 official holidays in the Mulsim [sic] religion, Eid-al-fitr. I routinely worked 64-80 hours weekly and was refuse [sic] my only religious accommodation request in my 3 year tenure. ... I was unemployed from July 2016-Nov[.] 2017 and seeking lost wages.

Compl. at 1. Defendant attached to his complaint his unsworn and undated "Charge of Discrimination," form which identifies the cause of discrimination as race, sex, religion, and retaliation. Charge of Discrimination at 1.

         In the attached Charge of Discrimination, plaintiff expands upon the three-sentence complaint. He alleges that he was scheduled to work from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am on July 6, 2016, which coincided with "Eid-el Fatir," a Muslim holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Charge of Discrimination at 1. He called his manager on that day to ask if he could take the day off, but his manager declined his request, and told him he needed to work at "4S Medical Surgery," an assignment plaintiff described as requiring "technical skill." Id. However, once plaintiff arrived for his shift on July 6, he was told he would be a "sitter" in the Emergency Department, which required him "to simply observe the patients." Id. at 2. According to plaintiff, he "was fine with working at 4S [Medical Surgery] as [he] liked the challenging environment," id. at 1, but the "sitter" assignment "felt like this was further punishment and retaliation for [his] religious beliefs." Id. at 2. Given the importance of religious observance on that day, plaintiff considered it "demeaning for . . . GWU[H] to not give [him] the day off, [and] to tell [him] that [his] services were needed in the emergency room, only to be now told, that [he] was to sit and observe patients." Id.

         Plaintiff went to the staffing specialist and hospital operations supervisor and raised his voice stating that he "needed the day off to celebrate Eid" and complaining that "[he] work[s] really hard, and not be getting the day off and for what? For this? Anybody can be sitting at the Emergency Department." Charge of Discrimination at 2. The hospital operations specialist asked plaintiff to "calm down," sent him home because of his "state of mind," and took his badge away. Id. He was suspended from July 7, 2016, to July 10, 2016, and was told by his manager that GWUH was "conducting an investigation" into the incident. Id.

         On July 20, 2016, plaintiff attended a meeting with his manager and the human resources supervisor where he was terminated. Charge of Discrimination at 2. He was told that his behavior on July 6 was "unprofessional and disruptive" and that he was being terminated because that was his third incident of misconduct. Id. According to plaintiff, the first incident occurred in 2014 when a patient was found sitting on the floor in his absence, and the second incident occurred in May 2016 when he briefly left his post to go to an ATM. Id.

         Plaintiff states that he "believe[s] [he] was discriminated and retaliated against by GWU[H] for exercising [his] religious rights for accommodations," and he asked the EEOC to "enforce all [his] federal rights." Charge of Discrimination at 2. He claims that "other non-Muslim, non-Male, non-African American individuals have been treated better than [him], and were not terminated for 'raising their voice.'" Id.

         It appears that plaintiff signed a copy of the Charge of Discrimination form on July 27, 2016, and submitted it to the EEOC. Ex. C to Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1-4] ("Signed -Charge of Discrimination"). Defendant attached a copy of this signed document with its Notice of Removal as well as a letter from the EEOC dated October 6, 2016, which informed defendant that plaintiff had filed a charge of discrimination against it "based on religion, retaliation, race and sex, and involv[ing] issues of discharge that are alleged to have occurred on or about July 20, 2016." Ex. Cto Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1-4] ("EEOC Notice of Charge of Discrimination").

         Plaintiffs EEOC case was dismissed approximately two years later on April 18, 2018. EEOC Dismissal and Notice of Rights [Dkt. # 1-2]. Plaintiff attached to his complaint the EEOC order titled "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" which informed him that the agency was closing his case because it was "unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes." Id.

         On July 16, 2018, plaintiff filed his discrimination suit in Superior Court for the District of Columbia, see Compl., and on August 23, 2018, defendant removed the case to federal court and simultaneously moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim. Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1]; Def's Mot. at Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. [Dkt. #8] ...


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