United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. No. 24)
C. Hall, United States District Judge
Abraham Monger, filed an Amended Complaint on February 27,
2017. Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) (Doc. No.
11). Monger brings three claims of employment discrimination
against the Connecticut Department of Transportation
(“DOT”). Id. Count One alleges that the
DOT denied Monger promotional opportunities on the basis of
his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., which prohibits
disparate treatment, harassment, and the creation of a
hostile work environment. Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 23-25
(First Count). Count Two alleges that the same actions also
violated Monger's rights under the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at ¶ 25
(Second Count). Finally, Count Three alleges that the DOT
further violated Title VII by retaliating against Monger for
filing a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human
Rights (“CHRO”) and the Equal Employment
Opportunities Commission (“EEOC”). Id.
at ¶¶ 28-30 (Third Count).
filed a Motion to Dismiss all counts on April 19, 2017.
Motion to Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”) (Doc. No.
24). The DOT moves under both Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Mot. to Dismiss at
1. The DOT first argues that Counts One and Three should be
dismissed for failure to plead exhaustion of administrative
remedies. Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Motion to
Dismiss (“Mem. in Supp.”) (Doc. No. 24-1) at 3.
The DOT also argues that Count Two should be dismissed
because the Eleventh Amendment bars suit against the DOT as a
state agency. Id. at 4.
reasons set forth below, the court grants the Motion to
Dismiss as to Count Two and denies the Motion as to Counts
One and Three.
DOT's Motion raises primarily procedural and
jurisdictional issues, so only a brief accounting of the
alleged facts from the Amended Complaint is necessary
here.Monger is an African-American man employed
by the DOT as a Transportation Engineer 2. Am. Compl. at
¶¶ 3, 5. In January 2016, he applied for two
available promotions to Transportation Engineer 3 positions,
but was not granted an interview despite being qualified for
the positions. Id. at ¶¶ 6-10. The DOT
promoted two Caucasian employees instead, at least one with
less experience than Monger. Id. at ¶¶
11-13. After filing a complaint with the DOT's
Affirmative Action office, Monger again applied for a
promotion to Transportation Engineer 3 in December of 2016.
Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. This time, the DOT
granted him an interview, but again promoted a Caucasian
employee with less experience instead of Monger. Id.
at ¶ 15. On May 25, 2016, Monger filed a complaint with
the CHRO and the EEOC, claiming employment discrimination on
the basis of race. Id. at ¶ 21. After the
filing, the DOT retaliated by promoting less qualified
applicants and posting positions to the general public
instead of considering Monger for the promotion. Id.
at ¶¶ 26-27 (Third Count).
Amended Complaint alleges that Monger received a release of
jurisdiction letter from the CHRO on November 14, 2016.
Id. at ¶ 22. Monger then initiated the current
action on February 13, 2017, and filed the Amended Complaint
on February 27, 2017. Although Monger also received a
right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on February 16, 2017, the
Amended Complaint did not mention or attach this letter.
See id. The DOT moved to dismiss the entire
complaint on April 20, 2017. Mot. to Dismiss. First, the DOT
argues that the court should dismiss Counts One and Three
because Monger failed to plead exhaustion of administrative
remedies by neither referencing nor attaching the EEOC's
right-to-sue letter to the Amended Complaint. Mem. in Supp.
at 3. In response to the DOT's Motion to Dismiss on this
ground, Monger attached the right-to-sue letter to his
Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss. Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Motion
to Dismiss (“Mem. in Opp.”) (Doc. No. 26-1) Ex.
B. Second, the DOT argues that Count Two is barred by the
Eleventh Amendment because the DOT is a state agency
protected by sovereign immunity. Mem. in Supp. at 4.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(1) Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), “[a]
case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction . . . when the district court lacks the
statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.”
Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d
Cir. 2000). The plaintiff bears the burden of proving the
existence of subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance
of the evidence. Id. In determining whether the
plaintiff has met this burden, the court must accept as true
all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Carter
v. Healthport Techs., LLC, 882 F.3d 47, 57 (2d Cir.
2016); Aurecchione v. Schoolman Transp. Sys., Inc.,
426 F.3d 635, 638 (2d Cir. 2005). In contrast to Rule
12(b)(6), the court is not limited under Rule 12(b)(1) to the
complaint itself, but may also consider evidence outside the
pleadings, such as affidavits. Kamen American Tel. &
Tel. Co., 791 F.2d 1006, 1011 (2d Cir. 1986).
Rule 12(b)(6) Failure to State a Claim Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to plead
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc.
8(a). Under Rule 12(b)(6), to survive a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim, that plain statement must allege
facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557
(2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While this plausibility
standard does not require probability, it is not satisfied by
“a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully” or by facts that are “merely
consistent with a defendant's liability.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must accept all material factual allegations of the complaint
as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. Hemi Grp., LLC v. City of New York, 559
U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Jaghory v. N.Y. State Dep't
Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997). However, the
court is not required to accept as true a “legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). In
those instances, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. In contrast to Rule 12(b)(1), under Rule 12(b)(6),
the court may consider “only the facts alleged in the
pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by
reference in the pleadings, and matters of which judicial
notice should be taken.” Samuels v. Air Trans.
Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 15 (2d Cir. 1993).
moves to dismiss all counts of the complaint. The DOT first
argues that Counts One and Three should be dismissed because
Monger failed to plead exhaustion of administrative remedies
as required by Title VII. Mem. in Supp. at 3. The DOT further
argues that ...