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Wesley v. Brennan

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

February 15, 2019

JOHN L. WESLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff John L. Wesley for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket No. 2). Upon review of the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court finds that plaintiffs motion should be granted. Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, plaintiffs claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) will be dismissed because plaintiffs sole remedy for disability discrimination is under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA). Finally, plaintiff will be directed to file an amended complaint.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). "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." Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context- specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must "accept as true the facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016). See also Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372-73 (8th Cir. 2016) (stating that court must accept factual allegations in complaint as true, but is not required to "accept as true any legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation").

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A "liberal construction" means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the district court should construe the plaintiffs complaint in a way that permits his or her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980). See also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (stating that federal courts are not required to "assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint"). In addition, affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff has filed a pro se employment discrimination complaint against defendant Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service. The complaint is on a Court-provided form. Plaintiff has checked the boxes indicating that he is bringing his lawsuit pursuant to the ADA and the RA. (Docket No. 1 at 1-2). He alleges that he was discriminated against on the basis of a disability. (Docket No. 1 at 5).

         Plaintiff states that he was employed by the United States Postal Service as a city carrier in the Gateway District, Saint Louis, Missouri. In January 2015, he submitted an "eReassign" request to transfer to the Midwest District, Kansas City, Missouri. Along with submitting the eReassign, he informed his supervisor and the manager of his delivery unit in Saint Louis of his intent to transfer.

         Plaintiff monitored the eReassign system online to follow the status of his transfer request. When he saw that his "request was developing and there [were] no problems," he proceeded to move to the Midwest District. Upon arriving in Kansas City, plaintiff was advised that two individuals were on the list ahead of him. After hearing nothing from the eReassign coordinator for several weeks, he filed an "EEO/REDRESS" complaint, which was scheduled for a hearing in May 2015. At the hearing, plaintiff discovered that he was not selected for reassignment because of his attendance issues in the Gateway District. Plaintiff asserts that those attendance issues were due to his use of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

         Plaintiff filed a formal EEO complaint in August 2015. He states that the agency did not arrive at a final decision until sometime between April and August 2017. Plaintiff claims that he has suffered losses due to his use of the FMLA. He is seeking back wages, lost wages, court costs, attorney fees, recoup of his thrift savings plan, personal expenses associated with his move, and restoration of pay level. (Docket No. 1 at 7).

         Attached to the complaint is a decision from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (Docket No. 1-2). The decision is an appeal from a Final Agency Decision concerning plaintiffs EEO complaint, in which plaintiff alleged employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). (Docket No. 1-2 at 1). The decision affirms the Final Agency Decision. (Docket No. 1-2 at 4). It also includes a right to sue provision, which is dated June 28, 2018, giving plaintiff ninety days to file a lawsuit. Plaintiff filed his complaint on September 19, 2018, approximately eighty-three days after the EEOC decision.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff claims that defendant denied his transfer request based on his past usage of the FMLA. He brings this action under both the ADA and the RA. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiffs ADA claim must be dismissed. Furthermore, as his complaint is deficient, he will be directed to file an amended complaint in accordance with the instructions set forth in this order.

         A. ...


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