United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Amos Chan Chan, Jr., alleges that Defendant Children’s
National Medical Center (“CNMC”) failed to pay
him proper wages, retaliated against him because he engaged
in a protected activity, and further created a retaliatory
hostile work environment.
the Court is CNMC’s  Partial Motion to Dismiss the
Amended Complaint for Failure to State a Claim. CNMC makes
several arguments in support of its Partial Motion to
Dismiss. First, CNMC argues that the D.C. Wage Payment Act
and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) do not
provide a cause of action for Chan Chan’s claims in
Counts I and II. Second, CNMC contends that, except for Chan
Chan’s claim based on actions post-dating October 18,
2017, most notably his termination, his retaliation claim in
Count III is time-barred. Lastly, CNMC claims that Chan Chan
has failed to allege sufficient facts in support of his
retaliatory hostile work environment claim.
consideration of the briefing, the relevant legal authorities,
and the record as a whole, the Court will GRANT IN
PART and DENY IN PART CNMC’s
Partial Motion to Dismiss. The Court concludes that the D.C.
Wage Payment Act and the FLSA do not provide causes of action
for Chan Chan’s claims in Counts I and II of the
Amended Complaint. The Court further concludes that Chan Chan
conceded that his claims under Count III are time-barred,
except for any retaliation claim premised on actions
post-dating October 18, 2017. However, the Court finds that
Count IV of Chan Chan’s Amended Complaint withstands
CNMC’s Partial Motion to Dismiss because he alleges
sufficient facts to support his retaliatory hostile work
environment claim. Accordingly, the Court
DISMISSES Counts I, II, and III of the
Amended Complaint, except for Chan Chan’s retaliation
claim under Count III based on actions occurring after
October 18, 2017.
purposes of this Partial Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts
as true the well-pled allegations in Chan Chan’s
Amended Complaint. The Court does “not accept as true,
however, the plaintiff’s legal conclusions or
inferences that are unsupported by the facts alleged.”
Ralls Corp. v. Comm. on Foreign Inv. in the United
States, 758 F.3d 296, 315 (D.C. Cir. 2014).
Chan began working for CNMC in November 2009. Am. Compl.
¶ 5. In July 2014, he was transferred to the
Environmental Services Department as a Floor Technician.
Id. ¶ 6. One of his supervisors was Mavis
Appleby. Id. ¶ 7. As a Floor Technician, his
job duties primarily included waxing, shampooing, buffing,
stripping, and recoating floors. Id. ¶ 6.
of his floor finishing duties, Chan Chan worked with
hazardous chemicals without being provided any personal
protective equipment. Id. ¶ 8. After CNMC
switched to using these hazardous chemicals, he experienced
adverse symptoms, which he reported to his supervisor Mavis
Appleby. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. His supervisor
provided him with goggles, but this did not alleviate his
symptoms. Id. ¶ 11. She also reported these
issues to upper management, yet CNMC took no action.
Id. At one point, Chan Chan was told by supervisors
to go to the emergency room, where he alerted poison control,
but CNMC still undertook no preventative measures. Id.
¶ 12. Upper management further refused to
accommodate his request for personal protective equipment.
Id. ¶ 13. Chan Chan ultimately contacted the
Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(“OSHA”), which issued a Citation and
Notification of Penalty to CNMC on November 5, 2015 for
failing to train employees on how to properly use these
hazardous chemicals and failing to provide personal
protective equipment. Id. ¶¶ 14-15.
these events were occurring, Chan Chan felt that he was being
discriminated against based on his Liberian national origin.
Id. ¶ 16. For example, he was frequently called
the “African.” Id. ¶ 17. In August
2014, September 2014, August 2015, September 2015, and
October 2015, he complained to Human Resources about
“harassive and discriminatory” treatment from his
supervisors; he also contacted the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on September 30,
2015, to request an investigation into his “retaliatory
supervisor.” Id. ¶¶ 18-19, 23.
Chan Chan’s communications to OSHA and the EEOC, Chan
Chan was demoted in December 2015. Id. ¶ 20. He
was tasked with new duties, including trash and housekeeping
duties, power washing, and cleaning patient rooms that had
blood and other bodily fluids. Id. Some of his new
duties usually had two people assigned to handle them, but
Chan Chan was assigned to complete these tasks on his own.
Id. ¶ 21.
addition to his duties changing, Chan Chan experienced
“ridicule, insult,” and pervasive negative
treatment that left him “afraid to go to work”
and caused “emotional distress.” Id.
¶ 25. His supervisor, Appleby, “issued and signed
off on” numerous corrective actions against Chan Chan
in March 2015, May 2015, July 2015, August 2015, January
2016, February 2016, and March 2016. Id.
¶¶ 23-24. Such corrective actions can result in
“immediate suspension or termination.”
Id. ¶ 23. Moreover, Chan Chan was denied
“overtime pay” and “opportunities to work
overtime” until he was terminated. Id. ¶
Chan complained about his demotion and discriminatory
treatment, including to the union, and “followed up
with complaints” in April 2017 and on September 21,
2017 about the disparate treatment that he received.
Id. ¶¶ 26-28. He was then terminated on
October 24, 2017. Id. ¶ 29. Chan Chan further
alleges that while he was employed, he was paid at $18.50 an
hour, but should have been paid $19.63 per hour according to
his “own records.” Id. ¶ 30.
on the facts alleged in this suit, Chan Chan states four
claims for relief in his Amended Complaint: (1) unpaid wages
under District of Columbia Code sections 32-1301 through
32-1303; (2) unpaid wages under the FLSA; (3) retaliation
under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act
(“DCHRA”); and (4) retaliatory hostile work
environment under the DCHRA.
moves to partially dismiss Chan Chan’s Amended
Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). The Federal Rules require that a complaint include
“‘a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ in
order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.’” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2);
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
“detailed factual allegations” are not necessary
to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, to provide the
“grounds” of “entitle[ment] to
relief,” a plaintiff must furnish “more than
labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Id. Instead, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at
556, 570. “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.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint must
establish “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged-but it has not
‘show[n]’-‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.’” Id. at 679 (quoting
moves to dismiss Counts I, II, and IV of the Amended
Complaint in their entirety, and moves to dismiss Count III
of the Amended Complaint except as to any retaliation claim
under the DCHRA based on actions that post-date October 18,
2017, including Chan Chan’s October 24, 2017
termination. The Court finds grounds to dismiss Counts I and
II in their entirety and Count III, except for Chan
Chan’s retaliation claim based on actions post-dating
October 18, 2017. However, the Court finds that Count IV of
the Amended Complaint has pled sufficient facts to support
Chan Chan’s retaliatory hostile work environment claim.
Chan Chan’s claim for unpaid wages is not cognizable
under the D.C. Wage Payment Act.
Chan claims that CNMC failed to pay him proper wages until he
was terminated, and when he was terminated, based on his
records that he should have been paid $19.63 per hour instead
of $18.50 an hour. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30–33. In
response, CNMC argues that the provisions of the D.C. Wage
Payment Act relied upon by Chan Chan do not provide a cause
of action for Chan Chan’s claim. See
Def.’s Mot. at 4–5. The Court agrees that the
D.C. Wage Payment Act does not create a cause of action for
wage disputes like this one, where there are no sufficiently
pled minimum wage or unpaid overtime claims.
of Columbia Code sections 32-1301 through 32-1303, the
sections that Chan Chan relies upon in his Amended Complaint,
are part of the D.C. Wage Payment Act, which governs the
payment and collection of wages. See D.C. Code
§§ 32-1301–12 (subchapter I of Chapter 13,
which is titled “Payment and Collection of
Wages”). Section 32-1301 provides definitions.
Id. § 32-1301. Section 32-1303 governs
“[p]ayment of wages [earned] upon discharge or
resignation of [an] employee and upon suspension of
work” in addition to the “employer’s
liability for failure to make such [a] payment.”
Id. § 32-1303. Section 32-1302 covers
“[w]hen wages must be paid” and relevant
exceptions. Id. § 32-1302. In particular, it
provides the when and how of wage payments:
An employer shall pay all wages earned to
his or her employees on regular paydays designated in advance
by the employer and at least twice during each calendar
month; except, that all bona fide administrative, executive,
and professional employees . . . shall be paid at least once
per month; provided, however, that an interval of not more
than 10 working days may elapse between the end of the pay
period covered and the regular payday designated by the
employer, except where a different period is specified in a
collective agreement between an employer and a bona fide
labor organization; provided further, that where, by contract
or custom, an employer has paid wages at least once each
calendar month, he may ...