United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
ROBERT J. HAMBRICK, Plaintiff,
MARK T. ESPER, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Army, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert Hambrick brings this employment discrimination action
against Mark T. Esper in his official capacity as Secretary
of the Army. Mr. Hambrick asserts claims for race and
gender retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Right Act of 1964. Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, Secretary Esper asks the Court to
dismiss count two and part of count three of Mr.
Hambrick's third amended complaint because the Court may
not review as part of this action the Army's decisions
concerning security clearance matters. (Doc. 28). For the
reasons explained below, the Court grants the motion.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When evaluating a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a district court accepts as true
the allegations in the complaint and construes the
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharms. Inc., 781 F.3d 1296,
1301 (11th Cir. 2015). The Court presents Mr. Hambrick's
factual allegations accordingly.
June 20, 2002, Mr. Hambrick, an African-American man, has
worked for the United States Army at the Redstone Army
Garrison in Huntsville, Alabama. (Doc. 27, ¶¶ 1,
4). From October 2012 until February 2014, Mr. Hambrick
worked in a GS-11 position as an EEO Specialist. (Doc. 27,
¶¶ 1, 2, 38).
EEO Specialist, Mr. Hambrick was responsible for receiving,
processing, and investigating claims of employment
discrimination at Redstone Arsenal and counseling employees
who made allegations of workplace discrimination. (Doc. 27,
¶ 2). Mr. Hambrick reported to Jacqueline Williams and
Martha Miller. (Doc. 27, ¶ 1). Mr. Hambrick received
“top performance ratings and was considered a very
dependable employee.” (Doc. 27, ¶ 5). Supervisors
praised Mr. Hambrick for “frequently exceed[ing]
standards, ” and Mr. Hambrick's last performance
evaluation before his EEO activity states that Mr.
Hambrick's “co-workers have a high regard for his
knowledge and will seek him out when they need a second
opinion.” (Doc. 27, ¶ 5).
November 2011 and November 2013, Mr. Hambrick filed EEO
complaints against his supervisors. (Doc. 27, ¶ 8). Mr.
Hambrick has not provided details about the nature of these
point during Mr. Hambrick's employment, the agency placed
a GS-12 program analyst in the EEO office. (Doc. 27, ¶
10). Mr. Hambrick did not qualify for the GS-12 program
analyst position because the position was available only
through management's intern program. (Doc. 27, ¶
10). Therefore, Mr. Hambrick believed that he could not
advance beyond a GS-11 position. (Doc. 27, ¶ 10).
According to Mr. Hambrick, “[h]is GS-11 status was his
career ceiling in the EEO office.” (Doc. 27, ¶
December 2013, after management placed the GS-12 program
analyst in the EEO office, Mr. Hambrick sent emails to his
supervisors and “complained that he was performing the
same duties as a high level Caucasian female intern, Ms.
Corlew, who as a GS-12, was receiving substantially more pay
than Mr. Hambrick.” (Doc. 27, ¶ 11). Mr. Hambrick
contends that from 2010 through December 2013, supervisors
assigned him more work and less favorable work assignments
than Ms. Corlew. (Doc. 27, ¶ 14). In a December 18, 2013
email to Ms. Williams, Ms. Miller, and Deputy Commander
Curtis Clark, Mr. Hambrick stated:
I show more initiative th[a]n your analyst and yet my pay
grade is less . . . not fair or right. Without an explanation
of these disparities, I consider this subtle discrimination.
Like I've said time and time before, I would like to be
treated the same as all of the other folks.
(Doc. 27, ¶ 12). In his email, Mr. Hambrick also stated
that the job duties that he and Ms. Corlew performed required
the same knowledge, skill, and responsibility, but Ms. Corlew
had no previous EEO experience that justified a $14, 500
salary difference. (Doc. 27, ¶ 13).
January 2014, Mr. Hambrick filed an EEO complaint. (Doc. 27,
¶ 22). Mr. Hambrick has not provided details about the
nature of the January 2014 EEO complaint.
Hambrick alleges that after he complained about the agency
placing Ms. Corlew in the GS-12 position, his working
relationship with Ms. Miller and Ms. Williams became
“very strained.” (Doc. 27, ¶ 15). Ms. Miller
and Ms. Williams “constantly . . . harassed” Mr.
Hambrick for “extremely minor issues.” (Doc. 27,
¶ 16). According to Mr. Hambrick, the “constant
degrading” and “verbal abuse” continued on
a daily basis, and Mr. Hambrick believed that Ms. Miller and
Ms. Williams were belittling him to try to force him to
resign. (Doc. 27, ¶ 17). In addition, Ms. Miller asked
Redstone police to provide “close patrol” near
the EEO office and to walk through the building occasionally.
(Doc. 27, ¶ 29).
February 4, 2014, Ms. Williams called Mr. Hambrick into the
conference room in the EEO office and gave him a letter of
counseling. (Doc. 27, ¶ 7). According to Mr. Hambrick,
criticized [him] for a series of email inquiries he had made
in December 2013 regarding the handling of a new GS-12
position in the EEO office, which would have constituted a
promotion for him, and his feeling that he was being treated
in a discriminatory fashion due to his race and sex as it
relates to job duties and pay.
(Doc. 27, ¶ 9). The counseling letter revoked Mr.
Hambrick's access to the internet and a job-related
database, both of which Mr. Hambrick needed to do his job.
(Doc. 27, ¶19). Before he received the counseling letter
on February 4, 2014, Mr. Hambrick had not been disciplined.
(Doc. 27, ¶ 6). Mr. Hambrick believes that Ms. Williams
issued the February 4, 2014 counseling letter in retaliation
for his complaints of race, sex, and pay discrimination
because Ms. Williams and Ms. Miller knew about Mr.
Hambrick's prior EEO activity. (Doc. 27, ¶ 20).
Hambrick acknowledged the counseling, signed the letter, and
went to his office. (Doc. 27, ¶ 20). Ms. Williams asked
Mr. Hambrick to return to her office. Mr. Hambrick refused,
and Ms. Miller ordered Mr. Hambrick to leave the office and
take the rest of the day off. (Doc. 27, ¶ 23). Mr.
Hambrick had parked his car in a lot off base that ...