United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG United States District Judge
Jeff Gulakowski, a longtime employee of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, brings this suit alleging violations of the
Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. He
maintains that the FBI denied him reasonable accommodations
for his mental disability, created a hostile work
environment, and discriminated and retaliated against him
through a series of workplace incidents. The Government now
moves for partial dismissal on two grounds. First, it argues
that some allegations in support of Plaintiffâs specific
claims are time barred; second, it asserts that the pattern
of incidents does not constitute a hostile work environment.
Concluding that certain allegations are indeed too late, but
that Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts â if just barely
â to state hostile-work-environment claims, the Court will
grant in part and deny in part Defendantâs Motion.
Court, as it must at this stage, draws the facts from the
First Amended Complaint. See Sparrow v. United Air Lines,
Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000). Gulakowski
is a Management and Program Analyst (MAPA) at the FBI, where
he has worked since 1987. See Am. Compl., ¶ 14.
In 2012, he experienced marital difficulties, began caring
for a friend who had suffered a stroke, and struggled with a
family member going through anxiety and depression.
Id., ¶ 19. As a result, he likewise started
suffering from “major depressive disorder and severe
anxiety” - a mental disability - which limited his
ability to sleep, concentrate, and communicate. Id.,
¶¶ 20-22. Still battling his disability in 2017,
Gulakowski requested that the FBI accommodate him in the form
of “additional time to work on projects and to work at
home one day a week.” Id., ¶ 7. The
Bureau denied the request. Id. Things only got worse
from there. Over the next 18 months, he was demoted, placed
on a disciplinary procedure, pressed to cancel a medical
appointment, subjected to “demeaning statements”
from his supervisor, and denied a timely promotion and
further requests for reasonable accommodations. Id.,
¶¶ 7, 10.
of these incidents, Gulakowski filed two formal complaints
with an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor - in April
2017 and in March 2018. Although the allegations underpinning
each complaint differ, he principally asserted in both that
the FBI had failed to accommodate his disability, created a
hostile work environment, discriminated against him based on
his disability, and retaliated against him for engaging in
protected activity. Id., ¶¶ 6-7, 9-10.
then filed this suit against the Attorney General, asserting
three counts under the Rehabilitation Act. Count I alleges
that Defendant failed to provide reasonable accommodations;
Count II claims that it discriminated against and subjected
Gulakowski to a hostile work environment because of his
disabilities; and Count III alleges that the FBI retaliated
against Gulakowski’s complaints by discriminating
against him and subjecting him to a hostile work environment.
Id., ¶¶ 75-82.
has now filed a Motion for Partial Dismissal. The Attorney
General seeks dismissal of those portions of Counts II and
III that relate to the hostile-work-environment claim.
See Mot. at 8–10. He also moves for dismissal
of those allegations in Counts I, II, and III that are time
barred. Id. at 7–8.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of an action where a complaint fails to “state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not necessary
to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, 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). In weighing a motion to
dismiss, a court “may consider only 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.” Equal Emp’t
Opportunity Comm’n v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial
Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir. 1997). The Court
“must treat the complaint’s factual allegations
as true and must grant [the] plaintiff ‘the benefit of
all inferences that can be derived from the facts
alleged.’” Sparrow, 216 F.3d at 1113
(quoting Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608
(D.C. Cir. 1979)). It need not accept as true, however,
“a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation” or an inference unsupported by the facts
set forth in the Complaint. Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d
178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
the Rule 12(b)(6) stage, a court can review “documents
attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the
complaint” or “documents upon which the
plaintiff’s complaint necessarily relies even if the
document is produced not by the plaintiff in the complaint
but by the defendant in a motion to dismiss.” Ward
v. D.C. Dep’t of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768
F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C. 2011) (citations omitted); see
also Banneker Ventures, LLC v. Graham, 798 F.3d 1119,
1133 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (“A district court may consider a
document that a complaint specifically references without
converting the motion into one for summary judgment.”).
In this case, Gulakowski did not attach the Record of
Investigation (ROI), Record of Consultation (ROC), or Office
of Equal Employment Opportunity Affairs (OEEOA)
Correspondence Files regarding his EEO complaints to his
Amended Complaint. Defendant has included valid excerpts of
each with its Motion to Dismiss, see Mot., Exhs.
A–C, so the Court may properly consider those
undisputed government records, the authenticity of which is
considering Defendant’s Partial Motion to Dismiss, the
Court begins with the hostile-work-environment claims, as
pled in Counts II and III. It will then analyze whether the
allegations in any counts are untimely.
Hostile Work Environment
Rehabilitation Act bars the Government from discriminating
against its employees with respect to, among other things,
their “terms, conditions, or privileges of
employment” because of that person’s disability.
See 29 U.S.C. §§ 794(a), (d)
(incorporating standard ...