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Ujoh v. Potter

December 10, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge


This matter is before the Court on Defendant John Potter's (hereinafter "Potter") Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum in Support Thereof (Doc. 5). Plaintiff Brandy Ujoh (hereinafter "Ujoh") filed a Response (Doc. 6) thereto. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Potter's motion.


I. Motions to Dismiss Generally

For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Tricontinental Indus., Ltd. v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 475 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2007). Nevertheless, in order to provide fair notice of the grounds for his claims, the plaintiff's complaint must allege sufficient facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (2007).

II. Facts

On November 26, 2007, the United States Postal Service (hereinafter "USPS") hired Ujoh as a transitional carrier for its East St. Louis, Illinois, office. Ujoh would not hold this position for long, as her employment with USPS was terminated on January 14, 2008. According to Ujoh's Complaint (Doc. 2), her termination was the culmination of roughly two and a half months of discrimination, harassment, and a hostile and abusive work environment at USPS.*fn1 This abuse targeted Ujoh's gender (female), race (African American), physical disability (she had undergone two bilateral hip replacement surgeries), and retaliation (use of USPS's grievance procedure). Despite being aware of the conditions of Ujoh's employment, USPS failed to take corrective action.

III. Procedural Posture

On May 23, 2008, Ujoh filed formal charges of employment discrimination with Potter's Equal Employment Opportunity (hereinafter "EEO") unit. In her EEO complaint, Ujoh alleged that she was denied employment with USPS because she was found to be medically unsuitable for the position of transitional carrier. She also asserted discrimination on the grounds of her physical disability. Following the process and investigation of her EEO complaint, Ujoh's complaint was remanded to USPS for a Final Agency Decision (hereinafter "FAD"), which ultimately denied Ujoh relief on February 17, 2009. The FAD included Ujoh's "Right to Sue" letter, leading to the timely filing of her federal lawsuit on May 5.

Ujoh's federal complaint contained the following two counts: 1) violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and; 2) violation of the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. Both counts referenced gender, race, physical disability, and retaliation as the bases of alleged discrimination, harassment, and hostile work environment. Potter now seeks dismissal of the first count for Ujoh's purported failure to exhaust her administrative remedies.


I. Matters Outside the Pleadings

As a preliminary matter, Potter's motion to dismiss refers to matters outside the pleading. Specifically, Potter seeks to introduce various documents concerning Ujoh's EEO complaint, including the complaint itself. Ordinarily, when such material is presented in connection with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court may not consider the material unless it converts the motion into one for summary judgment and gives the parties fair warning that it is doing so and an opportunity to respond. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However, there is an exception to this general rule where the attached material is expressly referenced in the complaint and is central to the plaintiff's claim. Tierney v. Vahle, 304 F.3d 734, 738 (7th Cir. 2002); Wright v. Associated Ins. Cos., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing Venture Assocs. v. Zenith Data Sys., 987 F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993)).

In the instant case, the extrinsic documentation sought to be introduced by Potter falls under the exception to Rule 12(d). Ujoh's federal complaint explains that she "timely filed charges of Employment Discrimination before the USPS EEO in Charge No. 4J-630-0058-08, charging [Potter] with acts of discrimination . . . ." (Doc. 2, p. 2, ¶ 5). Her complaint goes on to chronicle such alleged discrimination and makes reference to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (hereinafter "EEOC") FAD, which Ujoh attached to her complaint. (See Doc. 2; Attach. #2). While none of the documentation that Potter seeks to introduce was attached to Ujoh's complaint, its express reference therein is clear.*fn2 Furthermore, Ujoh's EEO documentation is directly linked to her discrimination claims; specifically, as will be seen, the number of claims of discrimination at the agency level (or lack ...

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