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Ibrahim v. Bernhardt

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 8, 2020


         SECTION: “KWR”



         Before the Court is a Motion to Strike And/ Or Dismiss (R. Doc. 33) filed by the Defendant, David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior (“Secretary”, “Defendant”, or “DOI”) seeking an order, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a), 12(b)(1), 12(f), and 41(b), dismissing Plaintiff Suleiman Ibrahim (“Ibrahim”)'s Amended Complaint (R. Doc. 32). In the alternative, Defendant seeks an order form this Court striking portions of that pleading which do not comply with the above-referenced rules as well as the Court's previous orders entered on June 25, 2019 and July 10, 2019, respectively. See R. Docs. 30 & 32. Plaintiff Ibrahim opposes this motion. R. Doc. 38. This motion was heard on the briefs on August 28, 2019. On November 1, 2019, following the consent of the parties, this matter was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge in accordance with Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). R. Doc. 45.

         I. Background

         On January 7, 2019, Plaintiff Ibrahim filed a complaint in District Court alleging various claims of discriminatory conduct by the Defendant David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior stemming from his employment with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”). R. Doc. 1.

         Generally, Ibrahim complains that BSEE treated him with unequal terms and conditions of employment, failed to promote him, terminated his employment, and retaliated against him for engaging in the protected activity of making an EEOC charge. R. Doc. 1, p. 4. Plaintiff Ibrahim is a black male, who practices Islam, and is from Sudan. Id. Ibrahim indicated on a checkbox form that BSEE discriminated against him on the basis of his race, color, gender/sex, religion, national origin, and age. Id. This action was brought pursuant to both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as codified 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as codified 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 to 634 (“ADEA”). R. Doc. 1, p. 3.

         This action appeals a final decision with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) as to Plaintiff's July 21, 2016 complaint of employment discrimination. R. Doc. 1-2; Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, EEOC Appeal No. 0120172370 (July 3, 2017). In that decision, the EEOC found that Ibrahim worked as a Petroleum Engineer at the Agency's BSEE in the Gulf of Mexico region in New Orleans, Louisiana. R. Doc. 1-2, p. 1. The EEOC also found Ibrahim filed his charge of employment discrimination against the DOI because he claimed he was subjected to hostile work environment and was discriminated against on the basis of his race (African-American), national origin (Sudanese), sex (male), religion (Muslim), color (black), and age (55), and in reprisal for his protected EEO activity. Id.

         Specifically, the EEOC considered these charges in purview of Ibrahim's claims that he was denied training, suspended for fourteen (14) days, belittled, and excluded from meetings. Id. In issuing its decision, the EEOC focused on four main incidents brought to its attention in Ibrahim's formal complaint: (1) Ibrahim's performance expectations were changed causing him to underperform and be denied a within grade increase in September 2016; (2) on April 22, 2016, Ibrahim was issued a proposed fourteen-day suspension without pay; (3) Ibrahim was denied religious reasonable accommodation during Ramadan; and (4) between June 11, 2016 and June 27, 2016, Ibrahim was suspended without pay for fourteen days. R. Doc. 1-2, p. 2.

         Plaintiff moved to add initial claims and consolidate this action with another action he instituted against David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary, Department of the Interior. R. Docs. 12 & 28; see Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, No. 19-cv-09316 (E.D. La. filed April 12, 2019). The Court denied his motion to amend finding the amendment futile where the Court does not possess jurisdiction over the subject matter of the delinquently exhausted claims. See R. Doc. 30. As such, the Court did not permit Plaintiff to add the claims that Ibrahim was discriminated against on the basis of his sex (male), age, race (African-American), color (black), religion (Muslim), national origin (Sudanese), and in reprisal for prior protected EEO activity when he was subjected to a hostile work environment concerning promotional opportunities, training, religious accommodation, his work performance and appraisals, and student loan repayment program participation as discussed in Ibrahim's October 8, 2015 EEOC Complaint and against BSEE. Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, EEOC Appeal No. 0120180689 (July 3, 2017). See R. Doc. 12-1. The Court did, however, permit Plaintiff to consolidate with this claim with two additional actions he had pending against BSEE stemming from separate events and EEOC complaints. R. Doc. 19 (Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, 2:19-cv-09316-KWR) & R. Doc. 21 (Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, 2:19-cv-02201-KWR).

         On May 30, 2019, the Secretary moved for a more definite statement as the complaints filed by Plaintiff were completed checkbox forms coupled with copies of administrative records extracts, none of which contained direct allegations and ultimately hindered the DOI from framing a responsive answer. R. Docs. 26 & 33-1, p. 2. The Court subsequently granted the DOI's motion and ordered that Plaintiff Suleiman Ibrahim file an amended complaint and required the Plaintiff to specifically identify and detail the following:

1. facts of his Title VII claim and whether they were submitted to the EEOC or handled at the administrative phase;
2. responsible management officials and what they did that he believes constitutes discrimination;
3. the actions which he contends were discriminatory/retaliatory, or even on what basis the officials/actions treated him disparately; and
4. whether he complained about the alleged discriminatory acts and the results of the complaints made, to whom they were made and when they were made.

R. Doc. 31, p. 4.

         As to this instant motion, the Secretary claims that Plaintiff has disregarded both the Court's orders and has asserted claims and theories inapt to federal sector employment discrimination claims in filing a restated fifty-three (53) page complaint;[1] that asserts twelve separate claims for relief under both federal and state anti-discrimination law, that seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory, punitive, and liquidated damages that includes pre- and post- judgement interest; and necessarily incorporates the claims the Court has already disallowed Plaintiff from including. R. Doc. 33-1, p. 3. The Secretary also claims that Plaintiff's lengthy narratives, as opposed to plain factual averments, appear to be facially irrelevant to any of the claims that Ibrahim timely exhausted. Id. As such, the Secretary contends that Plaintiff's complaint is subject to dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Id.

         Plaintiff Ibrahim opposes the motion contending that he has fully cooperated with the Court's instructions by editing and reforming his pleading in such a manner as to address Defendant's concerns. R. Doc. 38, p. 1. Specifically, Ibrahim contends that he responded to the Court's four directives. R. Doc. 38, p. 2-3. Ibrahim also states he included in the proposed pleading facts related to numerous other charges he made with the EEOC and against the Secretary to Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, EEOC Appeal No. 0120181334 and Ibrahim v. Bernhardt, EEOC Appeal No. 0120182239, as well as three other EEOC decisions. See R. Doc. 38, in passim.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 8(a) provides “[a] pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:

(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or ...

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