United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
CONNIE L. WINDHAM, Plaintiff,
JEFF SESSIONS, Attorney General, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, and FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, Defendants.
Randal Hall, Judge.
case, which arises out of Plaintiff's employment with the
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
retaliated against her for testifying against the BOP in a
race-discrimination case and that Defendants discriminated
against her because of her gender. Defendants move to dismiss
Plaintiff's claims, arguing (1) that Plaintiff did not
exhaust all of her administrative remedies, (2) that she has
not pleaded that she suffered any adverse employment actions,
and (3) that she has not pleaded facts supporting her
gender-discrimination claim. The Court GRANTS IN PART AND
DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion.
the facts alleged in Plaintiffs complaint as true and viewing
the allegations in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, as
the Court must, see Am. United Life Ins. Co. v.
Martinez, 480 F.3d 1043, 1057 (11th Cir. 2007), the
facts of this case are as follows. Plaintiff began working for
the Federal Bureau of Prisons (the "BOP") in 2001.
(Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 12.) From 2001 until early
2014, Plaintiff worked at a correctional facility in Jesup,
Georgia. (See id. ¶¶12-13, 28.)
November 2013, Plaintiff testified to an Equal Employment
Opportunity ("EEO") investigator on behalf of
coworker, Rackey Pasley, who had filed a race-discrimination
complaint against the BOP. (Id. ¶ 14.) A few
days later, Plaintiff questioned her supervisor, Paul Wells,
whether he had been skipping Plaintiff and Pasley when
selecting employees for overtime opportunities. (Id.
¶ 20.) In response, Plaintiff alleges, Wells
"became angry" and "started bullying her to
intimidate her." (Compl. ¶ 21.) Around the same
time, some of Plaintiff's coworkers began calling
Plaintiff names. (Id. St 25.) They routinely called
her "LT, " "unhappy camper/' and
"Gestapo." (Id. ¶ 26.) In December
2013, the BOP notified Plaintiff that it was transferring her
to a new facility in January 2014. (Id. ¶ 28.)
The BOP then moved her two more times in January.
(Id. ¶ 31.) And the workplace ridicule
continued throughout the moves: in April, for example, a
manager gave Plaintiff a whistle in front of inmates and
other staff members, stating that the gift was "a
whistle for a whistle-blower." (Id. ¶ 35.)
filed this lawsuit in September 2016, alleging that
Defendants retaliated and discriminated against her in
violation of Title VII. Defendants now move to dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint, arguing that she failed to exhaust
her administrative remedies for one claim and that her
complaint fails to state a claim for the others. (Doc. 9.)
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
Court tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The
Court must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint
and construe all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See Hoffman-Pugh v.
Ramsey, 312 F.3d 1222, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002). The Court,
however, need not accept legal conclusions as true, only
well-pleaded facts. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
complaint also must "contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Id. at 678 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A plaintiff is required to plead "factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. "The plausibility standard
is not akin to a "probability requirement, ' but it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully." Id.
alleges that Defendants retaliated against her for speaking
to the EEO investigator: she claims that Wells denied her
overtime opportunities, that the BOP improperly transferred
her, and that her coworkers ridiculed her. Plaintiff also
alleges that Defendants discriminated against her because of
her gender. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint. They argue (1) that Plaintiff did not exhaust her
administrative remedies with respect to her allegations that
Wells denied her overtime opportunities, (2) that
Plaintiff's reassignments and allegations of name-calling
were not adverse employment actions, and (3) that Plaintiff
has failed to plead any facts supporting her
Whether Plaintiff Exhausted Her Administrative Remedies
noted, Plaintiff contends that Defendants retaliated against
her in a number of ways, including by not allowing her to
work overtime. Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not
exhaust her administrative remedies for this claim because
she did not contact the EEO office within 45 days from the
date Wells denied her overtime opportunities in November
2013. See 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105 (a) (1) .
filing suit under Title VII, a federal employee must exhaust
her administrative remedies so that the agency has "the
information it needs to investigate and resolve the dispute
between the employee and the employer." Crawford v.
Babbit, 18 6 F.3d 1322, 1326 (11th Cir. 1999) (citation
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). As part of the
exhaustion requirement, a plaintiff must "initiate
contact with [an EEO] Counselor within 45 days of the date of
the" wrongful act. 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1). And
when a plaintiff does not initiate contact within the ...