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Chandra v. Bowhead Science & Technology LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

June 26, 2017

DIPANKAR CHANDRA, Plaintiff,
v.
BOWHEAD SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, LLC., and ROBERT M. SPEER, SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT.

         Before the Court is Defendant Robert M. Speer's[1] (the Army) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 33), seeking dismissal of Plaintiff Dipankar Chandra's discrimination claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the Army's Motion.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[2]

         Chandra was hired by Defendant Bowhead Science & Technology, LLC (Bowhead) as a Scientist/Microscopy Technician/Microscopy Manager in October 2011. Doc. 3, Pl.'s Orig. Compl. ¶ 16; Doc. 38, Pl.'s Resp. to Def. Robert M. Speer's Mot. to Dismiss and Br. in Supp. 1 [hereinafter Pl.'s Resp.]. After being hired by Bowhead, Chandra was contracted to work for Patrick J. Murphy, then the Secretary of the United States Army. Doc. 38, Pl.'s Resp. 1.

         Chandra “is a non-Caucasian American individual with Indian national origin who possesses distinct racial features and ethnic characteristics that are different from” Caucasian Americans. Doc. 3, Pl.'s Orig. Compl. ¶ 14. Chandra speaks English with an accent. Id. ¶ 15. Chandra alleges that he was the only Indian employee in his unit. Id. ¶ 17.

         Bowhead hired Chandra by telephone and allegedly told him that he did not need to conduct an in-person interview for the position. Id. ¶ 20. Chandra relocated from Texas to Maryland to begin the position. Id. ¶ 21. Chandra states that he was not reimbursed for his relocation expenses as promised by Bowhead over the telephone; non-Indian employees, by contrast, allegedly were reimbursed. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. Upon arrival, Chandra was allegedly required to undergo several new in-person interviews to secure the position. Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Chandra claims that his supervisors could not pronounce his name. Id. ¶ 25. So despite Chandra's objections, they allegedly decided to use a nickname and call him “David.” Id. The supervisors also allegedly instructed other employees to refer to Chandra as “David.” Id. One of Chandra's supervisors purportedly required Chandra to call her every time he arrived at the building but did not require other non-Indian employees to do so. Id. ¶ 26. In November 2011, a fellow employee allegedly referred to Chandra as a “low caste Indian from Texas” in front of Chandra. Id. ¶ 27.

         Chandra claims that he was not given an office for three weeks, did not receive a working computer for two months, never received a working phone, and never received an access badge that worked properly despite complaining about it. Id. ¶¶ 28-29. Chandra was allegedly also not given access to liquid nitrogen-a necessary component to properly fulfill his responsibilities. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. A supervisor allegedly responded to Chandra's requests for liquid nitrogen by telling Chandra not to bother him and to “fit in.” Id. ¶ 31. Chandra claims to have been told multiple times to “fit in” by supervisors while non-Indian employees were not told to do so. Id. ¶ 32. Chandra states that he was told not to perform certain tasks and then reprimanded for not performing those tasks. Id. ¶¶ 33-35.

         Chandra was terminated on or about December 21, 2011, for not being in the building on time, not filling out his time sheets, and lack of knowledge of electron microscopy. Id. ¶ 37. Chandra claims that he was never given a working badge which was required to enter the building, not given a working computer for two months which was required to complete time sheets, and praised for his knowledge of electron microscopy. Id. ¶¶ 28, 38-40.

         B. Procedural History

         Chandra filed a formal complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on August 7, 2012. Doc. 33, Def. Robert M. Speer's Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 4 [hereinafter Army's Mot. to Dismiss]; Doc. 35-1, Ex. 1, Charge of Discrimination. Chandra filed a Complaint with this Court on February 10, 2016, alleging discrimination on the basis of race and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. Doc. 3, Pl.'s Orig. Compl. 1, 5-7.[3]

         The Army, in turn, moved to dismiss Chandra's claims against it under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and, alternatively, 12(b)(6) for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Doc. 33, Army's Mot. to Dismiss 1-2. Chandra responded to the Motion, and the Army replied. See Doc. 38, Pl.'s Resp.; Doc. 39, Def.'s Reply Br. in Supp. of Def. Robert M. Speer's Mot. to Dismiss. Thus, the Motion is ripe for the Court's review.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         “‘Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.'” MacKenzie v. Castro, No. 3:15-cv-0752-D, 2016 WL 3906084, at *2 (N.D. Tex. July 19, 2016) (quoting Stockman v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998)). For that reason, they can adjudicate claims only when subject matter jurisdiction “is expressly conferred by the Constitution and federal statute. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides the vehicle through which” a party may challenge that jurisdiction. Armstrong v. Tygart, 886 F.Supp.2d 572, 584 (W.D. Tex. 2012) (internal citations omitted).

         “A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can mount either a facial or factual challenge.” MacKenzie, 2016 WL 3906084, at *2. A facial challenge occurs “when a party files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion without including evidence.” Id. A factual challenge, by contrast, occurs when a party supports its Rule 12(b)(1) motion with evidence. Id.

         In both cases, the burden of proof “‘is on the party asserting jurisdiction.'” Id. (quoting Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001) (per curiam)). So Chandra must prove jurisdiction exists. Yet that is no high bar: “‘[I]t is extremely difficult to dismiss a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.'” Santerre v. AGIP Petrol. Co., 45 F.Supp.2d 558, 566 (S.D. Tex. 1999) (quoting Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., 104 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         For a facial challenge, courts consider just “the allegations in the complaint because they are presumed to be true.” Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. 1981). And if they sufficiently allege a claim for recovery, then the complaint stands and the court must entertain the suit. Id.

         But this is a factual challenge. Doc. 35, App. to Br. in Supp. of Def. Robert M. Speer's Mot. to Dismiss. Plaintiffs enjoy no presumption towards truthfulness here. Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412-13 (5th Cir. 1981). Instead, they must “prove subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.” MacKenzie, 2016 WL 3906084, at *2 (citing Paterson, 644 F.2d at 523). To that end, each party may ...


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