United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
individual identified by the pseudonym “John
Doe” claims that his former employer, Northrop
Grumman Systems Corporation (“Northrop Grumman”),
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
(“Title VII”), and the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et
seq. (“ADA”). The action now is before the
court on Northrop Grumman's motion, filed pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), asking the court to
strike the hostile work environment statements mixed into the
text of plaintiff's claim for “Sexual
Discrimination under Title VII” (Count I of the Amended
Complaint),  and, his claim of “Discrimination
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act” (Count
III).Upon consideration of that motion, the
Amended Complaint, and the parties' briefs, the court
concludes the motion should be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) permits a party to move to
dismiss a complaint for, among other reasons, “failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). That rule must be read together with
Rule 8(a), which requires a pleading to contain only a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). While that standard does not require “detailed
factual allegations, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand
“more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citations omitted). As the Supreme Court stated in its
A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions”
or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do.” [Twombly, 550 U.S., at
555]. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked
assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual
enhancement.” Id., at 557.
To survive a motion to dismiss founded upon Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted], a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state
a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id., at 570. 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 556. 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.
Ibid. Where a complaint pleads facts that are
“merely consistent with” a defendant's
liability, it “stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to
relief.'” Id., at 557 (brackets omitted).
Two working principles underlie our decision in
Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must
accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.
Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.
Id., at 555 (Although for the purposes of a motion
to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, we “are not bound to accept as true
a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”
(internal quotation marks omitted)). Rule 8 marks a notable
and generous departure from the hyper-technical,
code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock
the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing
more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that
states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss. Id., at 556. Determining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the
Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense. 490 F.3d, at 157-158. But where
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - but it has not “show[n]” - “that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. Rule Civ.
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion
to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled
to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions
can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be
supported by factual allegations. When there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (emphasis supplied, second
and fourth alterations in original, other alterations
pivotal assertion in plaintiff's complaint is that,
“[i]n or around 2014, [he] was diagnosed with
gender dysphoria” - a condition marked by
displeasure or unhappiness with the gender assigned to a
person at birth. That diagnosis led plaintiff to begin a
“gender transition” by “undergoing hormone
replacement therapy” during March of 2016, while still
on active duty with the United States Army. Even though
plaintiff did not deploy outside the continental United
States after beginning his gender transition therapy, the
Charge he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission on November 9, 2018, stated that the Army assured
him that his transition would not be an obstacle to my
I was a high-performing and well-respected member of my unit,
and my performance impressed a field engineer who worked at
Northrop Grumman Corporation (henceforth “NGC”).
This engineer provided me with a recommendation and I was
subsequently hired by NGC on November 28, 2017 as a level 2
field engineer for Air Defense Airspace Management Systems
and Air and Missile Defense Planning and Control Systems.
One of the reasons I wanted to work at NGC was their
diversity policy which states, in part,
“Northrup [sic] Grumman is committed to
hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. We are proud to be
an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer, making
decisions without regard to race, color, religion, creed,
sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status,
national origin, age, veteran status, disability or any other
Doc. no. 7-1 (Plaintiff's EEOC Charge), at 3 (italics in
began working as a Field Engineer in the Air Defense Airspace
Management Systems Division at Northrop Grumman's Voyager
Way facility in Huntsville, Alabama, on January 8,
2018. During his second week there, plaintiff
became aware that some co-employees were beginning to notice
changes in his appearance and demeanor as a result of his
hormone replacement therapy. As a result, plaintiff spoke to
his division manager, Tim Cannon, as well as with an
unspecified person or persons in Northrop Grumman's Human
Resources Department. Cannon “assured Plaintiff that he
would work with him to ensure that his transition would not
pose any impediment to his job duties, ” and the
unidentified Human Resources employee(s) “went to great
lengths in order to assuage his concerns and assure him that
neither his transitional state, his sexuality, nor his
characteristics would be considered in employment
decisions.” Doc. no. 7 (Amended Complaint),
¶¶ 18 and 19.
three months later, however, Brian Walker replaced Tim Cannon
as manager of plaintiff's division.
22. Plaintiff shared his prior conversations with Mr. Cannon
and the HR Department with Walker.
23. However, Walker took a much more intransigent approach
than did his predecessor regarding Plaintiff's
transition, his sexuality, and his developing female
24. Walker told Plaintiff that, even if he met all the
medical requirements and military requirements necessary to
be deployed, he would still not allow Plaintiff to deploy in
a foreign position, as he remained concerned that something
might happen to Plaintiff because of his rapidly-developing
female characteristics, his sexual preference (although they
had not discussed same) and/or his transitioning.
25. Walker's “solution” was to deny
Plaintiff's request for the opportunity to deploy to a
26. Walker then sought Plaintiff's transfer to a
27. Walker undertook efforts to hinder Plaintiff's
ability to deploy, derail his career and seek his transfer
because of Plaintiff's female sexual characteristics
and/or his transitional state.
28. Once Walker made the decision to essentially end his
[plaintiff's] engineering career, Plaintiff contacted the
HR Department to complain about Walker's discriminatory
29. A few weeks later, the HR Department informed Plaintiff
that he would be laid off in two weeks as deployment was a
requirement of the job he was performing.
30. The emotional distress of learning this led Plaintiff to
attempt suicide, unsuccessfully, the same evening and he was
hospitalized for a week as a result.
31. Plaintiff was discriminated against and terminated in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964), as
amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act based on
certain female characteristics he had developed as a result
of taking HRT [i.e., Hormone ...