United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Randolph D. Moss, United States District Judge
Arren Dodson brings this action against Defendant United
States Capitol Police (“Capitol Police”) pursuant
to the Congressional Accountability Act (“CAA”),
2 U.S.C. §§ 1301-11, which subjects various
legislative branch agencies to certain laws, including Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq. Plaintiff asserts three claims: a claim of
race discrimination, Dkt. 1 at 7; a claim of retaliation,
id. at 8; and a procedural due process claim,
id. at 9. Defendant moves to dismiss all three
claims. See Dkt. 13. For the reasons explained
below, the Court will deny Defendant's motion.
purposes of the pending motion to dismiss, the following
allegations, which are taken from Dodson's complaint, are
accepted as true. See Am. Nat'l Ins. Co. v.
FDIC, 642 F.3d 1137, 1139 (D.C. Cir. 2011); see also
EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621,
624 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (“In determining whether a
complaint fails to state a claim, [the Court] may consider
only the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either
attached to or incorporated in the complaint and matters of
which [it] may take judicial notice.”).
Arren Dodson is a former United States Capitol Police
Officer. Dkt. 1 at 3, 7 (Compl. ¶¶ 10, 40). He is
“an African American.” Id. at 3 (Compl.
¶¶ 9). Over the course of his employment with the
Capitol Police, Dodson “regularly spoke out
about” the Capitol Police “treating him less
favorably than his Caucasian colleagues.” Id.
at 3 (Compl. ¶ 15). He alleges that the disciplinary
actions-one for insubordination and one for unsatisfactory
performance- that led to his termination from the Capitol
Police were the “[m]ost recent” examples of
such disfavored treatment. Id. at 3 (Compl. ¶
16); see Id. at 4 (Compl. ¶¶ 19-20).
January 17, 2018, Dodson felt ill but thought he was well
enough to work his assigned shift that began on that day.
Id. at 4 (Compl. ¶ 21). Towards the end of his
shift, which spanned into January 18, 2018, he was informed
that “he would be required to work additional duty into
the next shift.” Id. Because Dodson's name
appeared towards the bottom of the list that provided the
order in which officers would be asked to work additional
duty-this list is known as “the unscheduled draft
list”-he inquired why he was being asked to work
additional duty. Id. at 4-5 (Compl. ¶¶
21-22). He “learned that all of the employees who had
been scheduled to work additional duty for that date went
home with no negative consequence.” Id. at 5
(Compl. ¶ 22).
learning of his counterparts' departures, Dodson told his
supervisor “that he had an ear infection and a
migraine” and was therefore “unable to continue
working.” Id. Despite excusing employees who
were supposed to be assigned to additional duty before
Dodson, Dodson's supervisor “ignored [Dodson's]
assertions that he was not fit to complete another shift,
resulting in [an] improper order that he remain on-duty, even
though he had properly notified management of his
illness.” Id. (Compl. ¶ 23). Dodson left
work anyway and went home and to the doctor, id.
(Compl. ¶ 24), where he was diagnosed with an ear
infection in both ears, prescribed a course of antibiotics,
and given “a note permitting him to return to work as
soon as January 19, 2018, only if he was feeling
better, and seven to ten days later if he was not,
” id. (Compl. ¶¶ 25-26). Dodson did
not return to work until January 24, 2018. Id.
(Compl. ¶ 28).
provided Sergeant Brown with the doctor's note, which
Sergeant Brown rejected as “insufficient” to
excuse Dodson's departure from work and would not explain
why. Id. at 5-6 (Compl. ¶¶ 29-30). Dodson
brought Brown yet another doctor's note, which was
similarly rejected as insufficient without explanation.
Id. at 6 (Compl. ¶ 31). “Past practice of
[the Capitol Police] ha[d] been to provide a doctor's
note that outline[d] for how long an employee should take
sick leave.” Id. (Compl. ¶ 33). And,
“[a]t no time” did any of the Capitol Police
provide guidance to Dodson concerning how to document his
sick leave. Id. (Compl. ¶ 32).
April 30, 2018, as a result of Dodson's departure from
work on January 18, 2018 and related absence, he received
disciplinary citations for insubordination and for
unsatisfactory performance, carrying corresponding
recommended penalties of a two-day suspension and
termination, respectively. See Id. at 4 (Compl.
¶¶ 18-20). At the same, the Capitol Police informed
Dodson: “As you know, under the terms of the June 28,
2016 Last Chance Agreement (“LCA”) entered into
by you and the Department, your receipt of any sustained
CP-535 discipline is a violation of the LCA that will result
in the termination of your employment, and you are not
entitled to an appeal, grievance or any other challenge of
the recommended termination.” Id. at 6 (Compl.
¶ 34). On May 4, 2018, Dodson provided “additional
information that he believed was relevant to the disciplinary
actions” to the Chief of Police, Matthew Verderosa,
“but it was rejected.” Id. (Compl.
¶ 36). Five days later, Chief Verderosa notified Dodson
“that he had accepted the recommendation” to
terminate Dodson and planned to “forward his
recommendation” to the Capitol Police Board within five
days if Dodson “did not resign.” Id. at
6-7 (Compl. ¶ 37). Dodson did not resign. Id.
at 7 (Compl. ¶ 39). He was then notified by the Capitol
Police on July 2, 2018, that he had been terminated effective
June 26, 2018. Id. (Compl. ¶ 40).
November 19, 2018, Dodson filed this lawsuit. See
Id. at 1. In alleges that the Capitol Police's
disciplinary actions that led to his termination violated the
CAA, id. at 7-9, which incorporates the prohibitions
on discrimination and retaliation contained in Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act, 2 U.S.C. § 1311(a)(1). He also
alleged that the Capitol Police's actions violated his
Fifth Amendment right to procedural due process. Dkt. 1 at 9.
The Capitol Police moves to dismiss his claims insofar as
they allege an unlawful hostile work environment for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, and it moves to dismiss all of
the counts of the complaint for failure to state a claim.
See Dkt. 13-1.
to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
“test the legal sufficiency of a complaint.”
Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir.
2002). This examination requires the Court to “first
‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to
state [the] claim' to relief, and then determine whether
the plaintiff has pleaded those elements with adequate
factual support to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Blue v. District of
Columbia, 811 F.3d 14, 20 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675, 678 (2009))
(alterations in original) (internal citation omitted). That
“facial plausibility” requires that it
“plead 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. A
plaintiff need not make “detailed factual
allegations” to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007), but “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, [if] accepted as true, to ‘state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face, '”
Iqbal, 556 ...