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Reams v. Johnson

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 22, 2015



JOHN W. deGRAVELLES, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss filed by Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, seeking an order from this Court granting the Motion to Dismiss against Plaintiff Stephen M. Reams ("Reams") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6). (Doc. 14.) Plaintiff opposes the Motion. (Doc. 20.) There is no need for oral argument.

This Court has jurisdiction to consider this Motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

I. Background

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pro se pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq . (hereinafter "Title VII"), alleging employment discrimination. (Doc. 1, p. 1.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated from his position as Direct Housing Operation Chief at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (hereinafter "FEMA") New Orleans Transitional Recovery Office for an alleged ethics violation which occurred on May 28, 2009. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) The documents attached to Plaintiff's Complaint show that there were three ethics charges against him prior to his termination: (1) Misuse of Position for Private Gain, (2) Misuse of Government Property, and (3) Misuse of Official Time. (Doc. 1-1, p, 1.) The charges concerned the Plaintiff sending emails to multiple subordinate employees wherein he solicited them to sell dinners for him in order to fund a trip to Disney World for his niece. (Doc. 1-1. p, 1.)

Plaintiff claims that this alleged ethics violation was common practice within the agency; that it was "practiced by dozens, if not hundreds of employees;" and that he was the only one reprimanded for the ethics violation. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Brian Boyle[1] and Nora Huete[2] presented allegations of ethical misconduct against him to Human Resources and the Office of Chief Counsel. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Boyle and Ms. Huete were told this violation was not grounds for termination. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) As a result of these allegations, Plaintiff was suspended for two weeks. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) Plaintiff alleges that upon returning to work, Ms. Huete and Mr. Boyle continued to reach out to other persons in Human Resources and the Office of Chief Counsel until they found someone to approve his termination. (Doc. 1, p. 2.)

II. Arguments of Parties

Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under Title VII because his complaint lacks any allegation of facts relating to Title VII's five prohibited factors, "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."(Doc. 14-1, p. 4, citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff only alleged wrongful termination due to an ethics violation, which does not give rise to a claim under Title VII. (Doc. 14-1, p. 2.)

In his Memorandum in Opposition, the Plaintiff argues that he was wrongfully terminated from his position with FEMA for "retaliatory and race base[d] reasons." (Doc. 20, p. 2.) Plaintiff claims to have identified "seven other supervisors an/or managers that committed the same acts with persons in management being aware of their actions, " and claims that the seven others did not face disciplinary actions. (Doc. 20, p. 3.)

Plaintiff argues that his termination was made in retaliation for an unrelated EEOC complaint Plaintiff filed in 2006 against Mr. George Smith, which was based on racial discrimination. (Doc. 20, p. 4.) Plaintiff argues that Nora Heute "resented the fact that the Plaintiff's EEOC complaint resulted in Smith's termination and began a series of actions in an effort to have the Plaintiff terminated." (Doc. 20, p, 4.)

Finally, Plaintiff argues that FEMA violated the guidelines of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") in retaliation for the filing the EEOC complaint. (Doc. 20, p. 2.) Plaintiff alleges that instead of granting his approved FMLA leave, FEMA gave him a choice to resign, be terminated, or relocate his duty station eighty plus miles away. (Doc. 20, p. 2.)

Defendant argues in his Reply Memorandum that Plaintiff's new allegations in his Memorandum in Opposition are improper because Plaintiff did not amend his Complaint. (Doc. 21, p. 1.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot show a causal relationship between a protected activity and the alleged retaliation. (Doc. 21, p. 3.) Additionally, Defendant argues that even if Plaintiff were allowed to amend, Plaintiff's amendment would be futile. (Doc. 21, p.4.)

III. Standard on Motion to Dismiss

In Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), the ...

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