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Lorraine Frias v. Patrick A. Corvington

February 24, 2012

LORRAINE FRIAS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
PATRICK A. CORVINGTON, ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Patrick A. Corvington and Corporation for National and Community Service's ("CNCS") (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #12).*fn1

Plaintiff Lorraine Frias opposes the motion with respect to Defendant Corvington, but does not oppose dismissal of CNCS and the Doe Defendants (Doc. #16). Defendant Patrick Corvington, Chief Executive Officer of CNCS, is designated by CNCS as its representative against whom any civil action should be filed. Defendants replied to the opposition (Doc. #17).

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This action originated when Plaintiff filed a complaint (Doc. 3 #2) with this Court on August 16, 2011. The allegations in the 4 complaint, which are accepted as true for this motion, focus on two 5 interrelated series of events during Plaintiff's employment with 6 Defendant CNCS. First, Plaintiff alleges that she participated in 7 an investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General 8 ("OIG"). Second, Plaintiff alleges that a co-worker, Willie 9 Holmes, created a hostile work environment for her during her time at CNCS. Plaintiff filed two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") complaints concerning Mr. Holmes.

Plaintiff was hired by CNCS on October 16, 2005. She was promoted to the position of Resource Manager for the Pacific Region campus in June 2006. After October 2009, Plaintiff took a medical leave. Plaintiff's employment was terminated at some point after she began medical leave despite providing medical documentation to CNCS.

Plaintiff was involved in several complaints and investigations concerning Mr. Holmes and other employees. In March 2007, Plaintiff participated in an EEOC investigation against CNCS initiated by another employee. During that investigation, Plaintiff supported allegations of racial preference toward African American employees and discrimination within the Pacific Region Campus where she worked. In May 2007, Plaintiff reported an inappropriate relationship between a co-worker and a Team Leader on Campus.

Then in January 2008, Plaintiff sent a letter concerning Mr. Holmes's conduct to their mutual supervisor, James Phipps.

Plaintiff's complaint states that Mr. Holmes "was allowed, on 2 numerous occasions, to create an extremely hostile working 3 environment for the Plaintiff. . . ." Compl. ¶ 3. The January 4 2008 complaint to Mr. Phipps concerned harassment and hostility 5 toward Plaintiff. Shortly afterward, Mr. Holmes allegedly directed 6 an expletive toward Plaintiff during a confrontation where she felt 7 physically threatened. She also reported this incident to CNCS 8 supervisors. 9

Plaintiff alleges that no action was taken with regard to her complaints about Mr. Holmes, even though Mr. Holmes exhibited threatening and aggressive behavior in the presence of supervisors. Plaintiff then filed an EEOC complaint against both Mr. Phipps and Mr. Holmes on April 14, 2008. On April 18, 2008, Mr. Phipps allegedly told Plaintiff that dropping the complaint would be in her best interest because the content of the complaint might upset Mr. Holmes. On August 19, 2008 Plaintiff filed another EEOC complaint concerning Mr. Phipps and Mr. Holmes, but she did not follow through with the EEOC and failed to submit required paperwork.

On December 22, 2008, the national director of CNCS suspended Mr. Holmes for 30 days. At the end of his suspension, he returned to CNCS with a different title but no reduction in salary or benefits. Plaintiff sent a letter to the EEOC, the OIG, and the Office of Human Capital complaining about Mr. Holmes's return.

Next, Plaintiff participated in an OIG investigation that determined that Mr. Holmes was involved in operational and fiscal improprieties. Mr. Holmes resigned after being issued a Notice of Proposed Removal by the then acting national director of CNCS, Mikel Herrington. Then on October 9, 2009, Mr. Holmes returned to 2 the CNCS Pacific campus with the permission of Mr. Phipps for the 3 day. Shortly after this incident, Plaintiff started the medical 4 leave that led to her termination. 5

Plaintiff's complaint contains nine claims. Claims two 6 through five and eight were voluntarily dismissed (Doc. #10). 7

Plaintiff offers no opposition to dismissal of claims seven and 8 nine. Plaintiff's remaining claims are claim one, Retaliation in 9

Violation of 43 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a); and claim six, Discrimination Based on Race in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 over the federal claims, and jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over the remaining state law claims.

II. OPINION

A. Legal Standard

1. Motion to Dismiss

A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). Assertions that are mere "legal conclusions," however, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff needs to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief 2 that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. 3

Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff fails to state a claim 4 supportable by a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica 5 Police ...


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