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Dye v. Pompeo

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 14, 2019

MICHAEL RICHARD POMPEO, et al., Defendants


          Colleen Kollar-Kotelly United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Richard Wayne Dye brings a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against Michael Richard Pompeo, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of State (“State Department”), and Miracle Systems, LLC. Plaintiff contends that Defendants retaliated against him by terminating his employment after he complained about a hostile work environment created by his supervisor, Jeff Mayberry. Defendant State Department has moved for dismissal, arguing that Plaintiff cannot bring a Title VII claim against the State Department because Plaintiff was never an employee of the State Department.

         Upon consideration of the pleadings[1], the relevant legal authorities, and the record for purposes of this motion, the Court GRANTS Defendant State Department's Motion. The Court finds that, in his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim that he was an employee of the State Department. As such, Plaintiff's claim against Defendant State Department is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For the purposes of a Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts as true the well-pled allegations in Plaintiff'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).

         In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff states that he “is and at all times relevant hereto was a contractor with the U.S. Department of State since 2005.” Am. Compl., ECF No. 9, ¶ 7. Plaintiff's contracting company is Miracle Systems, LLC, which is under contract with the State Department to provide services in Kabul, Afghanistan. Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.

         Through Miracle Systems, Plaintiff worked as a K-9 Mentor on the Antiterrorism Assistance Program. Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff was supervised by Jeffery Mayberry, the Miracle Systems Resident Program Manager. Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that Manager Mayberry created a hostile work environment for Plaintiff and others. Id. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff states that on or before December 13, 2017, he lodged a complaint against Manager Mayberry with his first line supervisors, Sam Brooks, Miracle Systems Deputy Resident Program Manager, and Mike Kuzmjak, Miracle Systems team leader. Id. at ¶ 24. Plaintiff claims that he was directed to file his complaint with the Human Resources Department of Miracle Systems. Id. at ¶ 25. On December 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint with Miracle Systems' Human Resources Department concerning Manager Mayberry. Id. at ¶ 28.

         According to Plaintiff, from December 2017 to late January 2018, Willy Straubhaar, a Program Manager at Miracle Systems, investigated the complaint. Id. at ¶ 29. As a result of the investigation, Manager Mayberry was terminated on January 30, 2018. Id. at ¶ 31. Plaintiff alleges that in February 2018 Manager Mayberry learned about Plaintiff's complaint. Id. at ¶ 32. And, on February 13, 2018, in a letter from the President and CEO of Miracle Systems, Sandesh Sharda, Plaintiff was terminated from his contract position. Id. at ¶ 33. Plaintiff requested, but did not receive, a written reason for his termination. Id. at ¶ 34. Plaintiff alleges that he was told by Mr. Straubhaar that he was terminated at the direction of State Department personnel Mike Otis and Anne Brunn who were going “in a new direction.” Id. at ¶¶ 35, 38.[2]

         On February 26, 2018, Plaintiff contacted his Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) counselor and filed a charge of discrimination related to his termination from employment. Id. at ¶ 58. More than 180 days have passed, and his claim is still pending before the EEOC. Id. at ¶ 59. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on June 5, 2019.


         Defendant State Department moves to dismiss the claim in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). According to 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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (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. “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.


         There is only one issue before the Court in resolving Defendant State Department's Motion to Dismiss. Both parties agree that Title VII “cover[s] only those individuals in a direct employment relationship with a government employer. Individuals who are independent contractors or those not directly employed by such an employer are unprotected.” Spirides v. Reinhardt, 613 F.2d 826, 829 (D.C. Cir. 1979). As such, the only dispute between the parties is as to whether or not Plaintiff qualifies as an employee of the State Department. Because the Court concludes that Plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to establish that he qualifies as an employee of the State Department, Plaintiff's Title VII claim against Defendant State Department must be dismissed for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted.

         Prior to considering the merits of Defendant State Department's Motion to Dismiss, the Court must address a threshold issue. In his Opposition, Plaintiff relies on facts alleged in an attached affidavit. Ex. 1, ECF No. 12-1. The facts alleged in Plaintiff's affidavit are not alleged in his Amended Complaint. “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 [the court] may take judicial notice.” EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir. 1997); see also English v. D.C., 717 F.3d 968, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (same). As such, the Court is restricted to the allegations in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, and any documents either attached to or incorporated in that Amended Complaint. Plaintiff's affidavit makes allegations which are not made in his Amended Complaint or in any document either attached to or incorporated in that Amended Complaint. As such, Plaintiff cannot rely on facts alleged in his later-filed affidavit to supplement a factually-deficient Amended Complaint. See Lane v. D.C., 211 F.Supp.3d 150, 159 ...

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