United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division
RICHARD F. HAWKINS, III, THE HAWKINS LAW FIRM, P.C.,
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, FOR PLAINTIFF; JOHN B. FLOOD, OGLETREE,
DEAKINS, NASH, SMOAK & STEWART, PC, WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR
OPINION AND ORDER
P. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff in this case claims that her former employer
wrongfully terminated her, denied her a reasonable
accommodation, and retaliated against her, all in violation
of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12112-12117. For the reasons that follow, I will
grant the defendant's partial Motion to Dismiss.
Amended Complaint alleges the following facts, which I must
accept as true for purposes of deciding the Motion to
plaintiff, Shelia Holmes, was an employee of defendant
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Inc.
(“General Dynamics”) from 1998 until June 2016.
She worked at General Dynamics's Marion, Virginia, plant.
has a congenital condition called brachymetatarsia,
characterized by one or more abnormally short or overlapping
toes. Wearing steel-toed shoes causes friction between her
toes and ulcerations on her feet. She also has diabetes.
Steel-toed shoes constrict her toes, causing swelling and
dangerous circulation problems. Holmes's diabetes and
brachymetatarsia interfere with her major life activities of
walking and standing.
2013, Holmes wore tennis shoes or other loose-fitting shoes
while working at General Dynamics. In 2013, General Dynamics
told Holmes she would be required to wear steel-toed shoes.
Holmes explained that she could not wear steel-toed shoes,
provided documentation from her doctors, and requested an
accommodation. She further informed General Dynamics that
other employees working in the same area of the Marion,
Virginia, plant did not wear steel-toed shoes.
Dynamics declined Holmes's accommodation request and did
not allow her to return to work unless she wore steel-toed
shoes. After attempting for some time to convince Holmes to
wear steel-toed shoes, General Dynamics terminated Holmes
effective June 1, 2016. Holmes learned of her termination by
letter received June 3, 2016.
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), received a Right
to Sue Letter on January 24, 2018, and thereafter timely
filed her Complaint in this court. She asserts that General
Dynamics violated the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) by terminating her employment because of
her disability (Count I), denying her a reasonable
accommodation (Count II), and retaliating against her for
exercising her rights under the ADA (Count III).
defendant has moved to dismiss Counts II and III of the
Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. The Motion to Dismiss has been fully
briefed and is now ripe for decision.
order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), 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
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.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Further, “the tenet
that a court must accept as true all of the allegations
contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678.
“While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations.” Id. at 679.
context of employment discrimination claims, “a
plaintiff is not required to plead facts that constitute a
prima facie case” in order to survive a motion to
dismiss. Coleman v. Md. Ct. of Appeals, 626 F.3d
187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-15 (2002)). Nevertheless, a
complaint's “[f]actual allegations must be enough
to raise a ...