United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
Y. Pearson United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Sheila Lawson filed a fee-paid Complaint in
this action against the United States Attorney General and
the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(“FBI”). ECF No. 1. She alleges
discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”),
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et. seq., and
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621,
et. seq., in connection with her efforts to obtain
reinstatement of employment with the FBI. For the following
reasons, the Court dismisses the Complaint.
contends that she worked for the FBI as a Special Agent
(“SA”) from approximately October 15, 1995
through July 7, 2006, when she resigned from her position.
ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 4, ¶¶ 9, 10.
Plaintiff alleges that, prior to her resignation, she
“participated in the [Equal Employment Opportunity
(“EEO”)] discrimination complaint process,
” but later “withdrew” that complaint.
Id. at PageID #: 4, ¶ 13. From 2007 through
2010, she requested that she be reinstated to her SA
position, but was ultimately denied reinstatement in 2010.
Id. at PageID #: 4, ¶ 14. In 2010 and 2011,
Plaintiff “participated in the formal [Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)] complaint
process, ” arguing that she was denied reinstatement
with the FBI based on “discriminatory age-based
policies, discriminatory hiring practices and/or
retaliation.” Id. at PageID #: 4-5, ¶ 15.
Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that, around the same time,
she filed a “spinoff EEOC discrimination and/or
retaliation complaint” with an “EEOC
Administrative Judge.” Id. at PageID #: 5, ¶
16. This complaint alleged that the former FBI Unit
Chief “intentionally deterred [her] from participating
in EEO activity.” Id. In August of 2014,
Plaintiff filed another EEO discrimination and retaliation
complaint, alleging that FBI SAs in the Cleveland Division
and FBI Confidential Human Sources officials deterred
Plaintiff from participating in the 2010 EEOC complaint.
Id. at PageID #: 6-7, ¶ 28. Plaintiff also
contends that the FBI and others committed various criminal
actions against Plaintiff because of her participation in EEO
activities. Id. at PageID #: 7-16. Ultimately, the
EEOC did not find discrimination in connection with her EEO
complaints. See id. at PageID #: 9, ¶ 41
(stating that Plaintiff received two notices from the EEOC in
July 2015 informing her of her “right to file a lawsuit
. . . in either or both matters that were being reviewed by
alleges that Defendants discriminated against her in
violation of Title VII and the ADEA by denying her
reinstatement with the FBI, and that Defendants unlawfully
retaliated against her based on “prior and pending
protected EEO activity.” She seeks reinstatement to her
SA position, as well as damages.
Standard of Review
pro se pleadings are held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972),
“the lenient treatment generally accorded to pro
se litigants has limits.” Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). A
district court “may, at any time, sua sponte
dismiss a [pro se] complaint for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when the allegations of
[the] complaint are totally implausible, attenuated,
unsubstantial, frivolous, devoid of merit, or no longer open
to discussion.” Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477,
479 (6th Cir. 1999).
Court finds that all of Plaintiff's claims warrant
sua sponte dismissal pursuant to Apple v.
Glenn. Plaintiff has already filed two federal lawsuits
against the Attorney General and FBI Director, alleging
discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and the ADEA,
in connection with her efforts to obtain reinstatement with
the FBI. See Lawson v. Lynch, No.
4:15CV2140, 2017 WL 979115 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 14, 2017);
Lawson v. Lynch, No. 15CV1723 (D.D.C.) (filed Oct.
19, 2015). On March 14, 2017, Judge Lioi dismissed
Plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims against
the Attorney General and FBI Director on the merits,
detailing two bases for dismissal. Lawson, 2017 WL
979115, at *8. First, Plaintiff's claims were time-barred
because she did not file her lawsuit within the strict
ninety-day statutory of limitations period following receipt
of her July 2015 right-to-sue letters. Id. at *4-5.
Second, Plaintiff failed to state plausible discrimination
and retaliation claims, because she did not plead facts
plausibly connecting Defendants to any adverse employment
against her after the FBI denied her reinstatement. Id.
the doctrine of res judicata, a final judgment on
the merits in an action bars re-litigation between the
parties or their privies on issues that were or could have
been raised in the prior action. W.J. O'Neil Co. v.
Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson & Abbott, Inc., 765
F.3d 625, 630 (6th Cir. 2014). In the case before Judge Lioi,
Plaintiff raised, and lost, discrimination and retaliation
claims against Defendants under Title VII and the ADEA in
connection with her attempts for reinstatement with the FBI.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims in this action are
barred, frivolous, and no longer open to litigation because
Plaintiff raised, or could have raised, these claims in her
prior lawsuit before Judge Lioi.
to the extent Plaintiff purports to base her retaliation
claims in this case on different or subsequent allegations
than those she alleged in her prior case, her retaliation
claims are also implausible for the same reasons Judge Lioi
found her prior retaliation claims insufficient.
Plaintiff's Complaint does not set forth discernible
facts plausibly connecting Defendants to any adverse
employment action against her after the FBI denied her
reasons set forth above, this action is dismissed pursuant to
the Court's authority ...