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Beaulieu v. Barr

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 29, 2019

WILLIAM BARR et al., Defendants,



         Yvette Beaulieu, a former employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation proceeding pro se, has sued 60 government officials for alleged constitutional violations, various forms of discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Title VII and the First Amendment. Her complaint incorporates over 1, 500 pages of exhibits, including emails, annotated news articles, and employment records. See ECF Nos. 2 through 2-14. Defendants have moved to dismiss all claims. ECF No. 30. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion in part and deny it in part. Beaulieu's Title VII retaliation claim will proceed, her remaining claims will be dismissed, and all Defendants will be dismissed except for Attorney General William Barr.[1]

         I. Legal Standard

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, 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) (quoting Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff s complaint; it does not require a court to ‘assess the truth of what is asserted or determine whether a plaintiff has any evidence to back up what is in the complaint.'” Herron v. Fannie Mae, 861 F.3d 160, 173 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002)). The plaintiff is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the facts alleged, Hettinga v. United States, 677 F.3d 471, 476 (D.C. Cir. 2012), but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.[2]

         While a pro se complaint “must be construed liberally, the complaint must still present a claim on which the Court can grant relief.” Budik v. Dartmouth Hitchcock Med. Ctr., 937 F.Supp.2d 5, 11 (D.D.C. 2013). “A court considering a pro se plaintiffs complaint should look to all filings, including filings responsive to a motion to dismiss, to discern whether the plaintiff has nudged [her] claim[s] across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Mehrbach v. Citibank, N.A., 316 F.Supp.3d 264, 268 (D.D.C. 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted). Still, “the Court need not assume the role of the pro se plaintiffs advocate, ” id, and “it is not the Court's job to canvass the record for documents supporting a pro se party's position.” Sun v. D.C Gov 't, 133 F.Supp.3d 155, 168 n.6 (D.D.C. 2015).

         II. Analysis

         Liberally construed, Beaulieu's complaint contains ten identifiable “grievances” or claims: (1) a violation of her due process rights; (2) Title VII discrimination; (3) Equal Pay Act discrimination; (4) age discrimination; (5) genetic information discrimination; (6) Title VII retaliation; (7) First Amendment retaliation; (8) a violation of the No. Fear Act; (9) a violation of her Sixth Amendment right to counsel; and (10) other miscellaneous claims, including what she calls “Uncontrollable Systemic Factors” and a “perceived conflict” of the “laws pertinent to Executive Privilege, State Secrets, and Brady v. Maryland” with the Ninth Amendment. ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) at 18-19. As explained below, the only claim she has plausibly alleged is Title VII retaliation.

         A. Due Process

         Beaulieu alleges that “there [was] no due process” concerning the “discrimination, retribution, harassment, and the resulting termination” that she allegedly experienced. Id. at 4. She then alleges that “it is unknown whether I was or am under investigation for criminal or national security related matters (and easily deniable after the fact).” Id. at 4-5. Beaulieu does not explain whether her claim is a procedural or substantive due process claim. To bring a procedural due process claim, she must allege (1) “deprivation of a protected liberty or property interest, ” (2) “by the government, ” (3) “without the process that is ‘due' under the Fifth Amendment.” NB ex rel. Peacock v. District of Columbia, 794 F.3d 31, 41 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Alternatively, to make out a substantive due process claim, she must allege that “egregious government misconduct” deprived her of a constitutionally recognizable liberty or property interest. George Wash. Univ. v. District of Columbia, 318 F.3d 203, 206, 209 (D.C. Cir. 2003).

         Beaulieu's due process claim fails under either theory. Even assuming she had a property interest in her job from which she was terminated, Thompson v. District of Columbia, 530 F.3d 914, 918 (D.C. Cir. 2008), the complaint does not explain any alleged deficiencies with the extensive process she was apparently afforded, see, e.g., ECF No. 2-6, at 66, 76 (“numerous 90-day [Performance Improvement Plan] periods”); Id. at 71 (“weekly ‘counseling' sessions”); ECF No. 2-9 at 92-94 (“letter . . . to advise [Beaulieu] of the proposal to remove [her] from [her] current position, ” giving “right to reply to this proposal” and “right to select an attorney or representative to assist”). Because she does not sufficiently allege that she was “deprived of a meaningful opportunity to be heard, [she] cannot make out a viable procedural due process claim.” Kelley v. District of Columbia, 893 F.Supp.2d 115, 124 (D.D.C. 2012); see McManus v. District of Columbia, 530 F.Supp.2d 46, 73 (D.D.C. 2007) (dismissing plaintiffs' due process challenge to their terminations because they did not “identify the specific process that the District allegedly failed to afford each of them”). Moreover, she does not plead any facts suggesting that the government committed “egregious” misconduct. And although the complaint also refers to “alternative competing hypothes[e]s, ” Compl. at 4, behind the various events alleged, that speculation does nothing to nudge her due process claim “from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Her due process claim must therefore be dismissed.

         B. Discrimination

         Beaulieu alleges that she suffered discrimination prohibited under four statutes: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), Title VII, and the Equal Pay Act. Under the first three, “the two elements of a discrimination claim are that: (i) the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action (ii) because of the plaintiffs race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or [genetic information].” Baloch v. Kempthorne, 550 F.3d 1191, 1196 (D.C. Cir. 2008); see 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (ADEA); 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff-1(a) (GINA); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a) (Title VII). The Equal Pay Act also prohibits sex discrimination by requiring certain employers to pay equal wages for equal work, with certain exceptions and limitations. 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).

         1. ADEA and GINA

         Beaulieu does not allege that Defendants acted against her because of her age or genetic information, which is fatal to her ADEA or GINA claims. As for the former, she merely alleges, without further explanation or detail, that recent college graduates with less work experience received her same salary. See Compl. at 7. And as to the latter, she does not allege what genetic information purportedly subjected her to discrimination. See Id. at 4 (alleging that discrimination may have “potentially” occurred based on her “DNA”). In fact, she appears to base her GINA claim on her “ethnicity, ” “national origin, ” or “race, ” which is a claim properly brought under Title VII, as opposed to the GINA. See ECF No. 2-8 at 31, 118-19; Robinson v. Dungarvin Nevada, LLC, No. 2:16-CV-902-JAD-PAL, 2018 WL 547225, at *5 (D. Nev. Jan. 24, 2018) (“Race is protected under Title VII, not under GINA.”), aff'd, 738 Fed.Appx. 543 (9th Cir. 2018). For these reasons, her claims under the ADEA and the GINA must be dismissed.

         2. ...

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