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McCleary-Evans v. Md. DOT

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

December 9, 2014, Argued; March 13, 2015, Decided

No. 13-2488


 [*583]  NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

Dawnn McCleary-Evans commenced this action against the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration, alleging that the Highway Administration failed or refused to hire her for two positions for which she applied because of her race (African American) and her sex (female), in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). In her complaint, she alleged that she was highly qualified for the positions, but that the decisionmakers were biased and had "predetermined" [**2]  that they would select white candidates to fill the positions.

The district court granted the Highway Administration's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), concluding that the complaint failed to allege facts that plausibly support a claim of discrimination. Because we agree that McCleary-Evans failed to include adequate factual allegations to support a claim that the Highway Administration discriminated against her because she was African American or female, we accordingly affirm. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) (] "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'" (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007))).

McCleary-Evans worked for over 20 years as a project manager on environmental regulatory compliance projects while employed at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Transit Administration. In late 2009 and early 2010, she applied for two open positions in the Highway Administration's Environmental Compliance Division, interviewing first for a position as an assistant division chief and later for a position as an environmental compliance program manager. Despite her prior work experience and education, which she alleged made her "more than qualified" [**3]  for the two positions, she was not selected for either position. Instead, as the complaint asserted, "The positions in question were filled by non-Black candidates."

McCleary-Evans' claim that the Highway Administration did not hire her "because of the combination of her race and gender" relies essentially on two paragraphs of her complaint. In one, she alleged that her applications were "subject to a review panel significantly influenced and controlled by . . . Gregory Keenan, a White male in the Office of Environmental Design ('OED') who worked under the supervision of OED Director, Sonal Sangahvi, a non-Black woman," and that "[d]uring the course of her interview, and based upon the history of hires within OED, . . . both Keenan and Sangahvi predetermined to select for both positions a White male or female candidate." In the other paragraph, she similarly alleged that, "although African American candidates had been among the selection pool," "Keenan and  [*584]  Sangahvi, for reasons of race and gender, overlooked the African American candidates to select White male, preferably, and White female candidates." In short, she claimed in conclusory fashion that the decisionmakers were biased when making [**4]  the decision. And the complaint did not include any allegations regarding the qualifications or suitability of the persons hired to fill the two positions.

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780 F.3d 582 *; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 3987 **; 126 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 640; 91 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 273


Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by McCleary-Evans v. Md. DOT, 2016 U.S. LEXIS 1326 (U.S., Feb. 29, 2016)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. (1:13-cv-00990-CCB). Catherine C. Blake, District Judge.

McCleary-Evans v. Md. DOT, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158244 (D. Md., Nov. 5, 2013)

Disposition: AFFIRMED.


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Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Labor & Employment Law, Title VII Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, General Overview, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Racial Discrimination, Employment Practices, Failures to Hire, Gender & Sex Discrimination