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Washington v. Veritiss, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 4, 2015

LISA WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
VERITISS, LLC and CARMEN POWELL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

This employment discrimination action is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Dkt. 11.] For the following reasons, the Court will grant the motion and dismiss the Complaint.

I. Background

At the motion to dismiss stage, the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, read the complaint as a whole, and take the facts asserted therein as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In October of 2009, Plaintiff Lisa Washington ("Plaintiff") was employed as an Executive Recruiter by Defendant Veritiss, LLC ("Veritiss"). (Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 15.) Defendant Carmen Powell ("Powell") was, and apparently still is, the Chief Executive Officer ("CEO") of Veritiss. (Id. at ¶ 14.)

In May of 2010, "Plaintiff requested a reasonable accommodation due to her medical condition related to being pregnant from her supervisor." (Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff's treating physicians identified Plaintiff's need for a modified work schedule as an accommodation at work. (Id. at ¶ 79.) Her supervisor referred Plaintiff to Powell, who was "not pleased with Plaintiff's request for a reasonable accommodation... [and] thereafter, began harassing and discriminating against Plaintiff." (Id. at ¶¶ 21-23.) Ultimately, Defendant's denied Plaintiff's accommodation request for a modified work schedule. (Id. at ¶ 24.)

Subsequently, Plaintiff was suspended from work, but was later allowed to return. (Compl. ¶¶ 26-27.) On June 7, 2010, Powell terminated Plaintiff's employment with Veritiss. (Id. at 30.) On June 30, 2010, "Plaintiff was notified that her compensation, including severance pay and commission, which she was due and owing, was being rescinded due to a false and alleged violation of the non-disclosure agreement." (Id. at ¶ 32.) On July 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Id. at ¶ 33.)

On September 23, 2014, the then-pro se Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Veritiss and Powell, alleging fifteen counts, which range from employment discrimination claims under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") to various torts and contract claims under Virginia law. Plaintiff served the Complaint on both Defendants in late December of 2014. [Dkts. 6, 7.] On February 12, 2015, both local and pro hac vice counsel entered an appearance on Plaintiff's behalf. [Dkts. 8, 9.] The same day, Defendants filed the motion to dismiss now pending before the Court. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. 11]; Defs.' Mem. in Supp. [Dkt. 12].) Defendants ask that the Court dismiss the Complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Plaintiff never filed a memorandum in opposition to the motion to dismiss, which was otherwise due to be filed under the local rules of this Court no later than February 26, 2015. See E.D. Va. Local Civ. R. 7(F)(1); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(d); Defs.' Notice [Dkt. 16]. Defendants waived a hearing on their motion to dismiss, and instead ask the Court to rule on the briefs alone. Thus, the matter is ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard

"The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, [it] does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Butler v. United States, 702 F.3d 749, 752 (4th Cir. 2012) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A court reviewing a complaint on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must accept well-pleaded allegations as true, and must construe all allegations in favor of the plaintiff. See Randall v. United States, 30 F.3d 518, 522 (4th Cir. 1994). However, the court need not accept as true legal conclusions disguised as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679-81 (2009). Therefore, a pleading that offers only a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557. Nor will a complaint that tenders mere "naked assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual enhancement." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557.

"The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, [a Rule 12(b)(6) motion] does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243-44 (4th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). In the relatively rare circumstance where sufficient facts are alleged in the complaint to rule on an affirmative defense, the defense may be reached by a motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6). This principle only applies, however, if all facts necessary to the affirmative defense "clearly appear[ ] on the face of the complaint." Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (emphasis is original).

III. Analysis

Defendants argue that all of the claims in the Complaint should be dismissed either because the claim is time-barred by the applicable statute of limitation or because the claim fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Defs.' Mem. at 3-16.) Plaintiff has not opposed Defendants' motion to dismiss.[1] Regardless, ...


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