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Ankton v. United States Treasury Department

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

December 6, 2016

CHANDRANITA M. ANKTON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES TREASURY DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS and ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT and ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          DIANE K. VESCOVO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On October 23, 2015, the plaintiff, Chandranita M. Ankton (“Ankton”), filed a pro se employment retaliation complaint against the defendant, the United States Treasury Department (“the Department”), alleging that the Department retaliated against her for participation in prior Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) activities in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) The case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia but it was transferred to the Western District of Tennessee on August 23, 2016. (ECF No. 19.) It has been referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for management and for all pretrial matters for determination and/or report and recommendation as appropriate. (Admin. Order 2013-05, Apr. 29, 2013.)

         Before the court is the Department's June 13, 2016 motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement. (ECF No. 10.) On September 20, 2016, Ankton filed a response to the Department's motion on August 11, 2016. (ECF No. 16.) After the case was transferred to the Western District of Tennessee, Ankton refiled an identical response to the Department's motion. (ECF No. 27.)

         Also before the court is Ankton's second motion for leave to amend her complaint. Ankton initially filed a motion for leave to amend her complaint with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 1, 2016. (ECF No. 15.) She did not attach a proposed amended complaint to this motion.[1] On September 21, 2016, after the case was transferred, Ankton filed a new motion for leave to amend her complaint, to which she attached her proposed amended complaint. (Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 29.) In the proposed amended complaint, Ankton seeks to include a hostile work environment claim and to add significant “factual developments that have occurred since the original complaint was filed on October 23, 2015.” (Id.) On October 14, 2016, the Department filed a response in opposition to the second motion to amend. (ECF No. 32.)

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the Department's motion to dismiss be denied. The Department's motion for a more definite statement is granted. Ankton's motion to amend her complaint is denied.

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         In her complaint, Ankton alleges that the Department retaliated against her for participating in protected EEO activity. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) The complaint contains minimal facts, but the court considers the two administrative EEO claims that she filed with the Department, IRS-14-0341-F, filed May 29, 2014, and IRS-14-0700-F, filed November 21, 2014. Copies of the relevant documents from her EEO claims are attached by the Department to its motion to dismiss and to its reply in support of its motion to dismiss.[2] (See Dep't's Reply, Ex. 1, ECF No. 18-1 & Dep't's Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 2, ECF No. 10-3.) Ankton alleges that she appealed both final agency decisions to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), but then she terminated the EEOC appeals by filing the current lawsuit. (Ankton's Resp. 1, ECF No. 16.)

         The Department attached a copy of its final decision in IRS-14-0341-F to its reply in support of its motion to dismiss. (See Dep't's Reply, Ex. 1 at 3, ECF No. 18-1.) In her EEO complaint, filed on May 29, 2014, Ankton alleged that she was retaliated against beginning on March 25, 2014 because of her participation in prior, unspecified EEO activity. (Id. at 2.) The Department summarized Ankton's alleged adverse employment decisions as follows:

1. On March 24, 2014, [Department] management issued [Ankton] a counseling memorandum for using extended idle time while she was assigned to the phones;
2. From June 1-6, 2014, [Ankton] was not asked to act as Manager or Lead; and
3. On June 20, 2014, [Ankton] received a lowered Departure Rating from the Rating of Exceeds to Meets.

(Id. at 3.) The Department issued its final agency decision on December 18, 2014, (id.), which it mailed to Ankton on February 3, 2015, (id. at 9). It concluded that the Department, including Shirley Hawkins (“Ms. Hawkins”), Ankton's supervisor, “provided legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for each of its decisions.” (Id. at 7.) As such, Ankton did not make out a claim for retaliation. The final agency decision also included a “Notice of Appeal Rights, ” which outlined the steps Ankton could take to appeal its decision. (Id. at 10.) Ankton appealed the Department's decision to the EEOC on February 28, 2015. (Id. at 4 n.2.) More than one hundred and eighty days passed without a response from the EEOC before Ankton filed her complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

         Ankton filed a second complaint, IRS-14-0700-F, with the Department on November 21, 2014, again asserting that she was retaliated against for participation in prior EEO activities. (Dep't's Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 2 at 5, ECF No. 10-3.) She amended that complaint on January 7, 2015. (Id.) In that case, the ...


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