United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
FAYE R. HOBSON, Plaintiff,
RETIRED GENERAL JAMES MATTIS, Secretary, Department of Defense, Defendant.
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge.
the court is the remaining defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Under 12(b)(6). (Doc. No. 35.) For the reasons discussed
herein, the court will grant the motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., and the Americans With Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
However, because the motion does not address the
plaintiff's claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.,
the court will not dismiss this action in its entirety.
Factual and Procedural Background
plaintiff filed her Complaint initiating this action on April
22, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) In addition, shortly after service of
the Complaint on all defendants, the plaintiff filed a
document titled “Index Complaint of FMLA Denial's
[sic] and Documentation” (Doc. No. 16), to which are
attached approximately 350 pages of exhibits, comprising the
underlying administrative record and other documents. (Doc.
Nos. 16-1 through 16-20.) It appears that this filing was
intended to supplement the Complaint.
to the allegations in the Complaint, the plaintiff resides in
Montgomery County, Tennessee. She is employed by the
Department of Defense Education Activity
(“DoDEA”) as a teacher at a U.S. overseas school
operated on Camp Humphreys Army Base in South Korea. In
October 2014, she requested leave without pay under the FMLA
due to personal medical problems. She claims that she was
denied the requested leave, at least initially. She believes
that the denial of FMLA leave was in retaliation for her
having previously filed discrimination complaints against the
agency. (Compl. ¶ 9.) She also alleges that she was
denied FMLA leave “because of Agency employees'
belief that Plaintiff is using her medical condition to seek
employment at Fort Campbell Schools.” (Compl. ¶
12.) She concedes that, eventually, “DoDEA Korea
District Superintendent Dr. Judith J. Allen granted leave
without pay for the requested time.” (Compl. ¶
26.) The plaintiff complains, however, that the leave was not
classified as FMLA leave, as a result of which she suffered a
loss in benefits and entitlements. (Id.)
December 15, 2015, the plaintiff filed an administrative
complaint against the DoDEA alleging that she had been denied
FMLA leave based on her previous complaints of race
discrimination and retaliation. (Compl. ¶ 9; see
also Complaint of Discrimination, Doc. No. 16-3.) She
was advised by letter dated January 7, 2015 that the
complaint had been accepted for investigation. (Compl. ¶
9; Jan. 7, 2015 Letter, Doc. No. 16-6, at 10-12.) The
complaint was investigated from March through May 2015. On
June 15, 2015, the plaintiff requested a Final Agency
Decision (“FAD”). (Compl. ¶ 9; June 15, 2015
Letter, Doc. No. 16-5, at 3.) The DoDEA issued the FAD on
August 7, 2015. (FAD, Doc. No. 16-5, at 13-21.) The plaintiff
received the FAD on August 17 or 18, 2015. (Compl. ¶ 9;
see also Pl.'s Resp. & Rebuttal ¶ 3,
Doc. No. 41.)
plaintiff filed her Complaint in this court on April 22,
2016, expressly asserting claims under Title VII (Compl.
Count One, ¶¶ 23-30) and the ADA (Compl. Count Two,
¶¶ 31- 35). As indicated above, however, the
Complaint also contains factual allegations and other
statements indicating that the plaintiff intends to assert
claims under the FMLA. (See Compl. ¶¶ 9,
36a-36f.) The Complaint also references 42 U.S.C. §
1981, but without expressly setting forth a factual or legal
basis to support a claim under § 1981.
court previously dismissed all claims asserted against the
individual defendants named in the Complaint. Accordingly,
what remains are claims against the Secretary of the
Department of Defense in his official capacity.
pending is the defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No.
35), filed with a supporting Memorandum (Doc. No. 36), and
the Declaration of William Suddeth (Doc. No. 37). Attached to
the Sudduth Declaration are parts of the underlying
administrative record that the plaintiff already submitted,
including the plaintiff's Formal Complaint of
Discrimination (Doc. No. 37-2) and the FAD (Doc. No. 37-1),
as well as documentation of the plaintiff's agency
appeals in other administrative actions (Doc. Nos. 37-3,
37-4, 37-5). The plaintiff has filed her Response in
opposition to the defendant's motion (Doc. No. 40) and a
Rebuttal to Sudduth's Declaration (Doc. No. 41).
Standard of Review
defendant's motion is filed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 12(d) provides that,
if the moving party presents and the court relies on matters
outside the pleadings, “the motion [under Rule
12(b)(6)] must be treated as one for summary judgment and
disposed of as provided in Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(d). The Sixth Circuit has clarified the scope of what the
court may consider without reaching “matters outside of
the pleadings.” Generally, while a plaintiff is not
required to attach to the complaint documents upon which her
action is based, under the Rules, “[a] copy of any
written instrument which is an exhibit to a pleading . . . a
part thereof for all purposes.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). In
addition, “when a document is referred to in the
pleadings and is integral to the claims, it may be considered
without converting a motion to dismiss into one for summary
judgment, ” even if the document was filed by the
defendant rather than by the plaintiff. Commercial Money
Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 335-36
(6th Cir. 2007). Courts may also “take judicial notice
of the administrative record reflecting plaintiff's
exhaustion of administrative remedies without converting the
motions into ones for summary judgment.” Allen v.
Shawney, No. 11-cv-10942, 2013 WL 2480658, at *13 (E.D.
Mich. June 10, 2013). See Lockett v. Potter, 259 F.
App'x 784, 786 (6th Cir. 2008) (affirming the district
court order granting the defendant's motion to dismiss
for failure to exhaust).
court concludes that it is appropriate to consider the
plaintiff's agency complaint as well as the FAD without
converting the present motion into one for summary judgment.
Both of these documents were submitted by the plaintiff as a
supplement to her pleading, and she refers to both of them in
the standard applicable to Rule 12(b)(6) motions applies.
Under that standard, the court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in the complaint and construe the
complaint liberally in favor of the pro se
plaintiff. Kottmyer v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684, 688 (6th
Cir. 2006). Although a complaint does not need to contain
detailed factual allegations, the plaintiff must provide the
grounds for her entitlement to relief, and this obligation
“requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (applying Twombly). Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders “naked
assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual
enhancement.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557. To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570.