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Rasheed v. District of Columbia Public Schools

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 6, 2019

DAOUD RASHEED, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITE STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant District of Columbia Public Schools' [66] Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Defendant moves for judgment on Plaintiff Daoud Rasheed's Second Amended Complaint on the grounds that (1) Plaintiff's Title VII claims are time-barred by the statutory 90-day time period; (2) Plaintiff has not exhausted his Title VII claims; and, (3) if Plaintiff has no federal claim, this Court should not assert supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's District of Columbia Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”) claims. Upon consideration of the pleadings, the relevant legal authorities, and the record in this case, this Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's [66] Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.[1] This Court shall GRANT Defendant's motion as it pertains to Plaintiff's hostile work environment claims and DENY Defendant's motion as it pertains to Plaintiff's religious discrimination claims and the timeliness of Plaintiff's Title VII claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Daoud Rasheed's Second Amended Complaint is predicated on an alleged denial - because of his religion - of employment benefits including equal pay, work assignments, schedule, and leave time. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 64, ECF No. 15. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered various types of discrimination for being a Muslim, such as being humiliated for adhering to a traditional Muslim appearance, denied leave time for his religious practices of afternoon prayer and an annual pilgrimage, assigned disproportionately large workloads; and suffering a pay decrease, as well as the termination of his employment. Id. ¶¶ 23-25, 33, 62, 66, 69, 72.

         Plaintiff began working for Defendant on December 8, 2009 and received a final notice of termination of employment on August 7, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 10, 62. During his employment with Defendant, Plaintiff served as a custodian in three different schools in the District of Columbia Public School System. Id. ¶¶ 10-12. Plaintiff alleges that throughout his employment with Defendant, he experienced religious discrimination and was subjected to a hostile work environment because he was Muslim. Id. ¶¶ 73, 81. After being terminated, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on December 31, 2015, alleging religious discrimination and retaliation. Ex. 66-1. Plaintiff stated that the allegedly discriminatory incidents occurred between November 12, 2013 and August 7, 2015. Id. The EEOC issued Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter with a mailing date of January 8, 2016. Ex. 66-3.

         On April 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed his original [1] Complaint pro se in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed an [2] Amended Complaint on April 11, 2016, again filing pro se. Am. Compl., ECF No. 2. Defendant filed a [4] Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6), and subsequently Plaintiff filed a [13] Consent Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint. Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 4; Pl's Mot., ECF No. 13. This Court granted Plaintiff's [13] Consent Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint, and this Court denied Defendant's [4] Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. Plaintiff's [15] Second Amended Complaint alleges claims under Title VII for religious discrimination and hostile work environment and identical claims under the DCHRA. Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 15. The parties were engaged in discovery until this Court granted Defendant's [64] Consent Motion to Stay Discovery pending resolution of the instant Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Defendant's Motion is ripe for consideration by this Court.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The standard for reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings is “virtually identical” to that applied to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Baumann v. District of Columbia, 744 F.Supp.2d 216, 221 (D.D.C. 2010) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.). Under rule 12(c) - as under rule 12(b)(6) - a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the grounds that it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “[A] complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Rather, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937.

         A motion to dismiss may be granted on statute of limitations grounds only if apparent from the face of the complaint. See Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Lexington Ins. Co., 357 F.Supp.2d 287, 292 (D.D.C.2005). “Because statute of limitations defenses often are based on contested facts, the court should be cautious in granting a motion to dismiss on such grounds; ‘dismissal is appropriate only if the complaint on its face is conclusively time-barred.'” Rudder v. Williams, 47 F.Supp.3d 47, 50 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1209 (D.C. Cir. 1996)).

         Because a Rule 12(c) motion “would summarily extinguish litigation at the threshold and foreclose the opportunity for discovery and factual presentation, ” courts must approach such motions “with the greatest of care” and deny them “if there are allegations in the complaint which, if proved, would provide a basis for recovery.” Haynesworth v. Miller, 820 F.2d 1245, 1254 (D.C. Cir. 1987), abrogated on other grounds by Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250, 126 S.Ct. 1695, 164 L.Ed.2d 441 (2006). “The court is limited to considering the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents attached to or incorporated in the complaint, matters of which the court may take judicial notice, and matters of public record.” Baumann, 744 F.Supp.2d at 222.

         Accordingly, for purposes of the pending motion, this Court takes judicial notice of the Charge of Discrimination filed by Plaintiff with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, Ex. 66-1, the Intake Questionnaire provided by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ex. 66-2, and the Dismissal and Notice of Rights issued by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ex. 66-3. See Grant v. Dep't of Treasury, 194 F.Supp.3d 25, 28 n.2 (D.D.C. 2016) (a “Final Agency Decision . . . [is] [an] official, public document[] subject to judicial notice”). Judicial notice is taken solely for the purposes of ascertaining when the Charge of Discrimination was filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights (December 31, 2015), the claims addressed in the Charge and in the Intake Questionnaire, and the date the EEOC mailed a Dismissal and Notice of Rights (January 8, 2016).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Title VII Claims Are Not Time-Barred

         Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a plaintiff may commence a civil action claiming discrimination “within ninety days after the giving of [an EEOC right-to-sue] notice.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). The 90-day period is tolled the day after the EEOC right-to-sue letter is received. Akridge v. Gallaudet Univ., 729 F.Supp.2d 172, 178 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(a)(1)). It is presumed that the right-to-sue letter was mailed on the same date of its issuance. Akridge, 729 F.Supp.2d at 178; Anderson v. Local 201 Reinforcing Rodmen,886 F.Supp. 94, 97 (D.D.C. 1995). When the receipt date of the right-to-sue notice is unknown or disputed, courts may presume that the letter was ...


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