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Gladden v. Geren

January 14, 2009

WARREN K. GLADDEN, PLAINTIFF
v.
PETE GEREN, SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ARMY, DEFENDANT



(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss the instant complaint (Doc. 6). Having been fully briefed, the matter is ripe for disposition.

Discussion

This case arises from plaintiff's application for employment at the Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania Army Depot. (Complaint (hereinafter "Complt.") (Doc. 1) at ¶ 8). Plaintiff submitted an application for a vacant position as Supervisory Electronics Engineer on August 30, 2006. (Id.). He submitted the application for two positions via an online resume database, RESUMIX, maintained by the defendant. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8). Plaintiff met the eligibility requirements stated in the position announcements. (Id. at ¶ 9). Defendant directed plaintiff to use Applicant Notification System WebEnabled Response ("ANSW ER") to receive notification of changes in the status of his application. (Id. at ¶ 10). ANSW ER is the only means for an applicant to keep track of his job status. (Id. at ¶ 11). The system dates each message regarding the application according to the date that message was entered into ANSWER. (Id. at ¶ 12).

A review by the agency determined that plaintiff was highly qualified for both positions, and on September 26, 2006 the defendant referred plaintiff's job application to the officials charged with selecting job candidates. (Id. at ¶ 14). ANSW ER noted this referral. (Id.). Plaintiff had a telephone interview with the selecting official and two other persons.*fn1 (Id. at ¶ 15). Plaintiff, who is black, was not offered the job. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 8, 15). Instead, defendant chose a white man for the position. (Id. at ¶ 15).

On July 19, 2007, plaintiff, who was still waiting to hear about his application spoke with a human relations specialist working for the defendant. (Id. at ¶ 16). He learned that the position for which he had applied had been filled on January 23, 2007. (Id.). Plaintiff reviewed the status of his application on ANSW ER on July 19, 2007; the system still recorded only that his application had been referred to the selecting official. (Id. at ¶ 19). Only on August 15, 2007 did the status of plaintiff's application change on ANSWER to reflect the fact that the position had been filled. (Id. at ¶ 18). These messages indicating that the position had been filled were, however, dated January 23, 2007. (Id. at ¶ 19).

On September 19, 2007, plaintiff contacted the Tobyhanna Equal Employment Opportunity Office to complain about being denied the job he had sought. (Id. at ¶ 21). When plaintiff did not receive any relief through this administrative measure, he filed a formal complaint. (Id. at ¶ 23). On November 20, 2007, the agency issued a final decision dismissing the plaintiff's complaint, ruling that he had failed to file a timely cause of action. (Id. at ¶ 24). Plaintiff then appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Id. at ¶ 25). The EEOC likewise concluded that plaintiff's complaint had been untimely filed. (Id. at ¶ 26). The EEOC denied plaintiff's request for reconsideration of their decision, and plaintiff received a copy of this decision on March 23, 2008.

Plaintiff filed the instant pro se complaint on June 23, 2008. The complaint alleges employment discrimination on the basis of race and seeks compensation, including back pay and interest for that discrimination and for the mental anguish the discrimination caused him.

Jurisdiction

As this case is brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.").

Legal Standard

The defendant seeks dismissal of the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn2 When analyzing a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded allegations of the complainant must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Colburn v. Upper Darby Township, 838 F.2d 663, 665-666 (3d Cir. 1988) (citing Estate of Bailey by Oare v. County of York, 768 F.3d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985), (quoting Helstoski v. Goldstein, 552 F.2d 564, 565 (3d Cir. 1977) (per curiam)). The court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994)(citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)). The complaint is properly dismissed "if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972)(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).

Discussion

Defendant argues that plaintiff failed to file his complaint with the EEOC in a timely fashion and therefore did not exhaust his administrative remedies. As such, defendant contends, ...


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