United States District Court, W.D. Virginia
Lisa R. Wright, Plaintiff,
Parker-Hannifin Corporation, Defendant.
K. MOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon Defendant's motion to
dismiss and Plaintiff's motion for extension of time to
file a motion to amend her complaint. Plaintiff brings
several causes of action related to her poor treatment at
work and subsequent termination. She alleges these adverse
actions were related to a workplace injury she suffered.
Specifically, Plaintiff brings claims under the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101 et seq., as amended; Virginia
Code § 65.2-308 (1950), as amended; and the Family and
Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 2601, et seq. Defendant has moved to
dismiss all claims, arguing that Plaintiff has not
administratively exhausted her ADA claim, and that she has
failed to adequately plead any of her claims.
has failed to exhaust her ADA claim. Thus, this Court lacks
jurisdiction to adjudicate its merits and it will be
dismissed. Plaintiff has also failed to state a claim under
Virginia Code § 65.2-308 because she has not alleged
facts making it plausible that she was terminated due to her
attempt to obtain workers' compensation. However,
Plaintiff's FMLA retaliation claim was adequately pled,
and it will be allowed to proceed. Accordingly,
Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and
denied in part. Plaintiff's motion for extension of time
to file an amended complaint will be granted, and Plaintiff
will have fourteen (14) days in which to petition this Court
for leave to amend her complaint.
Statement of the Facts
was employed by Defendant for over twenty years, from
approximately January 20, 1995, to April 4, 2016. (Dkt. 1 at
¶ 9). On June 3, 2015, Plaintiff fell and hit her head
at work, resulting in a “concussion, severe headaches,
neck injury, marked pain and loss of use and functionality of
her right arm, and other symptoms.” (Id. at
¶ 10). Subsequently, she had two medical procedures to
address her symptoms, in October 2015 and February 2016, that
forced her to miss work for approximately two weeks each
time. (Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff also missed work
on several other instances due to her injury, but always
provided appropriate documentation of her medical reasons
pursuant to the FMLA. (Id. at ¶ 13). Plaintiff
also pursued a workers' compensation claim related to her
injuries. (Id. at ¶ 14).
result of Plaintiff taking medical leave and seeking
workers' compensation, Plaintiff's supervisor, Betty
Parrish, began to harass Plaintiff at work, including
refusing to accept her legitimate medical excuses.
(Id. at ¶ 14). On November 12, 2015, Parrish
terminated from her job, but reinstated her two hours later.
(Id. at ¶¶ 14, 15). Plaintiff submitted a
form from one of her health care providers on December 16,
2015, that notified her employer of her need to take
intermittent FMLA medical leave. (Id. at ¶ 16).
After submitting this form, Plaintiff faced increased
harassment and was subjected to wrongful disciplinary
write-ups. (Id. at ¶ 17). On April 4, 2016,
Plaintiff was terminated from her position again.
(Id. at ¶ 18).
Standard of Review
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded
allegations. See Vitol, S.A. v. Primerose Shipping
Co., 708 F.3d 527, 539 (4th Cir. 2013); see also
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). “While
a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to
relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations and quotation marks
omitted). Stated differently, in order 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
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
threshold issue is whether Plaintiff has administratively
exhausted her ADA claim. This Court lacks jurisdiction to
hear her claim if she has not. See Sydnor v. Fairfax
Cty., Va., 681 F.3d 591, 593 (4th Cir. 2012). Generally,
a claim may be exhausted by first bringing it in an Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge
prior to asserting it in a lawsuit. See Smith v. First
Union Nat'l Bank, 202 F.3d 234, 247 (4th Cir. 2000).
Defendant claims that Plaintiff has not exhausted her ADA
claim because she failed in her EEOC charge to describe an
ADA claim or to check the box indicating she wished to bring
an ADA claim. Plaintiff argues that her pro se EEOC
charge, liberally construed, was reasonably related to her
ADA claim, and that the content of her EEOC intake
questionnaire makes it clear that she was attempting to bring
a claim related to the ADA.
is correct that her pro se EEOC charge must be
construed liberally, and that her failure to check the box
indicating she wished to bring an ADA claim is not
dispositive on whether she exhausted her claim. See
Williams v. Mancom, Inc., 323 F.Supp.2d 693, 695 (E.D.
Va. 2004) (“EEOC complaints filed by individuals acting
without the assistance of an attorney are not so strictly
construed that a failure to check the ‘Retaliation'
box on the EEOC charge form is necessarily fatal to the later
assertion of a retaliation claim.”). Instead, a claim
should be considered exhausted if “a plaintiff's
claims in her judicial complaint are reasonably related to
her EEOC charge and can be expected to follow from a
reasonable administrative investigation.”
Smith, 202 F.3d at 247.
Plaintiff's charge and ADA claim were not reasonably
related. Even for unrepresented charges, “we are not at
liberty to read into administrative charges allegations they
do not contain.” Balas v. Huntington Ingalls
Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401, 408 (4th Cir. 2013). Here,
there is simply a lack of facts implicating an ADA claim or
intent by Plaintiff to bring an ADA claim. The only
conceivable reference to the ADA in the EEOC charge is the
fact that Plaintiff stated that the decision to fire her
“result[ed] from my workplace injury in June
2015.” (See dkt.7-1 at 2). However, the charge
also describes an entirely different basis for her claim,
stating that Plaintiff was terminated “based on
retaliation for participating in a protected activity.”
Thus, the lone statement that her claim was
“resulting” from her workplace injury is
insufficient to implicate an ADA claim, particularly when the
charge was inconsistent with an ADA claim in multiple other
places (failure to check the correct box, statement that her
claim was based on retaliation).
any other indication of an ADA claim, the charge and
complaint are not “reasonably related, ” and
there is no way to “‘ensure that the employer
is put on notice of the alleged violations' thereby
giving it a chance to address the alleged discrimination
prior to litigation.” Sydnor, 681 F.3d at 594
(quoting Miles v. Dell, Inc., 429 F.3d 480, 491 (4th
Cir. 2005)). See also id. (“The goals of
providing notice and an opportunity for an agency response
would be undermined, however, if a plaintiff could raise
claims in litigation that did not appear in his EEOC
charge.”). Further, failure to check the correct box,
while not fatal, does factor into evaluating whether a claim
is exhausted. See Miles, 429 F.3d at 492 (finding a
retaliation claim was not exhausted when the Plaintiff
“did not check the retaliation box on her ...