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Cath Univ Opinion DC OHR

Cath Univ Opinion DC OHR

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Published by: religionclause on Dec 01, 2011
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05/19/2012

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DISTRICTOFCOLUMBIAGOVERNMENTOFFICEOFHUMANRIGHTS
IntheMatterof:JOHNF.BANZHAFIII,Complainant,DocketNo:11-343-EI
v.
JOHNGARVEY,PRESIDENTOFTHECATHOLICUNIVERSITYOFAMERICA,Respondent.
------------------------------~/
ORDER
TheD.C.OfficeofHumanRights("OHR")hascompleteditsreviewofRespondent'sMotiontoDismiss,Complainant'sOppositiontoRespondent'sMotiontoDismiss,andRespondent'sSur-ReplytoComplainant'sOppositiontoitsMotiontoDismiss.PursuanttotheDistrictofColumbiaHumanRightsAct("DCHRA"or"Act"),D.C.CODE
§§
2-1401.01
etseq.,
(2002),
Title4oftheDistrictofColumbiaMunicipalRegulations,andrelevantcaselaw,OHRissuesitsFindingsofFact,ConclusionsofLaw,andOrder.
PROCEDURALHISTORY
OnJuly8,2011,ComplainantfiledaChargeofDiscriminationagainstJohnGarvey,PresidentoftheCatholicUniversityofAmerica("CUA")inhisindividualcapacity.Complainantallegesthat"eliminatingallmixed-genderdormitoriesoncampus,andhenceforthforcingstudentstoliveoncampustoresideinsingle-sexresidences,constitutesdiscriminationonthebasisofsexsincestudentswillbeassignedtodormitoriessolelyonthebasisoftheirsex,andmanywillbedeniedtheirresidenceofchoicesolelybecauseofandonthebasisoftheirsex."
I
TheOppositionwasfiledafterthePositionStatement,butbeforeRespondent'sFormalMotiontoDismiss.
Afteranunsuccessfulmediation,afullinvestigationwasinstitutedbyOHR.RespondentsubmittedaPositionStatementwhichrequestedthedismissalofthecomplaint;itthensubmitteditsformalMotiontoDismissonOctober27,2011.ComplainantsubmittedanOppositiontotheMotiontoDismiss("Opposition")onOctober6,2011.
1
BecauseComplainant'sOppositionprofferednewallegationswhichwerenotintheoriginalChargeofDiscrimination,RespondentwaspermittedtosubmitaSur-ReplytotheOpposition("Sur-Reply").OnNovember8,2011RespondentsubmitteditsSur-Reply.ThisOrderconsidersalldocumentsandargumentssubmittedbybothparties.
 
(c)ThecomplainantfailstostateaclaimforwhichreliefcanbegrantedundertheAct;
BanzhafvJohnGarvey,inhispersonalandindividualcapacityOrder-MotiontoDismissOHRDocketNumber
11-343-EJ
Page
2
of16
STANDARDOFREVIEWOnamotiontodismissforfailuretostateaclaimuponwhichreliefmaybegranted,acomplaintmustbeliberallyconstruedinfavoroftheComplainant.
SeeHaines
v.
Kerner,
404U.S.519,520(1972).OHRRegulationsallowsforthedismissalofacomplaintiftheComplainantfailstostateaclaimforwhichreliefcanbegrantedundertheAct.D.C.
MUN.REGS.,
tit.4,
§
70S.1(c).Section708.1(c)states:Acaseshallbeterminatedwithoutprejudiceifthecomplainantsubmitsawrittenrequesttowithdrawthecomplaint,orforthefollowingadministrativereasons:Indeterminingwhetheracomplaintfailstostateaclaim,OHRmustgenerally"acceptastrueallofthefactualallegationscontainedinthecomplaint,"
Erickson
v.
Pardus,
551U.S.89,127(2007),and"grant[Complainant]thebenefitofallinferencesthatcanbederivedfromthefactsalleged."
Kowal
v
MCICommunicationsCorp.,
16F.3d1271,1276(D.C.Cir.1994).However,despitethisgeneralrule,somelimitationsandexceptionsexist.First,OHRneednotacceptinferencesdrawnbytheComplainantifthoseinferencesareunsupportedbyfactsallegedinthecomplaint.
Id
Second,OHRneednotacceptaComplainant'slegalconclusions.
Id
"[A]Complainant'sobligationtoprovidethe'grounds'ofhisentitle[ment]toreliefrequiresmorethanlabelsandconclusions."
BellAtlanticCorp.
v.
Twombly,
550U.S.544,555(2007)(quotingFed.R.Civ.P.8).Inshort,acomplaintfails"ifittendersnakedassertionsdevoidoffurtherfactualenhancements."
Ashcroft
v
Iqbal,
129S.Ct.1937,1950-51(2009).Inkeepingwiththeselegalprinciplesreferencedabove,whenconsideringamotiontodismiss,OHRmaychoosetoidentifypleadingsthat,becausetheyarenomorethanconclusions,arenotentitledtothepreswnptionoftruth.Whilelegalconclusionscanprovidetheframeworkofacomplaint,theymustbesupported
by
factualallegations.
Id
at1950.Whentherearewell-pleadedfactualallegations,OHRshouldassumetheirveracityandthendeterminewhethertheyplausiblygiverisetoanentitlementofrelief.
Id.
FINDINGSOFFACTRespondent'sMotiontoDismissInitsMotiontoDismiss,RespondentarguesthatComplainantadvancesaselectiveandoverlyliteralreadingoftheDCHRAthatignorestheAct'soverridingpurpose.Furthermore,RespondentrequestsdismissalofthecomplaintbecauseitdoesnotallegethatRespondenthasengagedinoraidedandabettedunlawfulsexdiscrimination.Respondentbeginsbyarguingthatitssame-sexdormpolicydoesnottargeteithersexfor"adiscriminatoryreason."Bothsexesaretreatedexactlythesame;theyhaveaccesstodormsonthesameterms,arefreetoliveinadormwithmembersofthesamesex,andneithersexesare
 
BanzhafvJohnGarvey,inhispersonalandindividualcapacityOrder-Motion
to
DismissOHRDocketNumber11-343-£1Page
30f16
permittedtoliveinadormwiththeoppositesex.Respondentarguesthatwomenarenotstigmatizedorrelegatedtoaninferiorstatus.Thispolicyisnodifferentfromestablishingseparatesportsteams,separatelockerrooms,andseparaterestrooms.Further,RespondentassertsthattheDCHRAwasnotintendedtoendalldistinctionsbetweenmenandwomen.Inlookingtootherpiecesoflegislation,RespondentassertsthatinpassingTitleIXoftheEducationAmendmentsof1972,Congressfocusedspecificallyontheeliminationofunequaltreatmentofwomenineducationalsettings,butexplicitlyallowedforsame-sexdormitories.
See
20U.S.C.§
1681
(a).
In
addition,Respondentexplainsthatitspolicyforsame-sexdormswasimplementedforthefollowinglegitimatereasons:I)toadvancetheuniversity'sreligiousmission,2)tocombatbinge-drinking,and3)tocombatthe"hookup"culturethatprevailsonmanycollegeanduniversitycampuses.Thesestatedreasonsarenon-discriminatoryandarereflectiveofRespondent'svaluesandreligiousmission.Additionally,thereasonsassertedarealsoprotectedbytheConstitution'sFirstAmendmentandtheReligiousFreedomRestorationAct("RFRA").Importantly,RespondentassertsthatincomingfreshmenandtheirparentshavenotcomplainedaboutthenewpolicyandComplainantisnotconnectedwithRespondentinanyway.WhiletheActforbidscollegesanduniversitiesfrommakingdecisionsbasedona"discriminatoryreason,"---suchasimplementingpoliciesthatsubjectmenorwomentounjustburdensordisadvantagesbecauseoftheirsex---theActdoesnotforbidcollegesanduniversitiesfrommakingsex-baseddistinctionsbetweenstudents.
SeeInt'lBhda/Teamsters
v.
UnitedStates,
431U.S.324,
335
n.
15
(1977).TointerprettheActasrequiringcollegesanduniversitiestoignoreactualdifferencesbetweenmenandwomenwouldleadtoaprohibitiononsame-sexbathrooms,lockerrooms,andsportsteams.Complainant'sattemptstojustifythesepracticesasbusiness-necessityexceptionsfailsbecausethebusinessnecessityexceptionexcludesthepreferencesofco-workers,employers,customersoranyotherperson.
See
D.C.CODE
§
2-1401.03(a).RespondentexpoundsingreaterdetailitsargumentsinsupportofthisMotion:
HousingMenandWomeninSeparateDormsisnatProhibitedbytheDCHRA
RespondentcitesD.C.COD
2-1402.41,2
whichprohibitsactsthat"deny,restrict,or....abridgeorconditiontheuseof...itsfacilities...toanypersonotherwisequalified...foradiscriminatoryreason,basedupon...sex."ThisprovisionestablishesthattheCityCouncilsoughttoprohibitpoliciesthataremotivatedbyaninvidiouspurpose,butnotpoliciesthatmakedistinctionsbetweenthesexesforbenignreasons.ThelegislativehistoryoftheActsupportstheforegoinginterpretation.InNovember1973,therecordoftheenactmentofTitle34oftheDistrictofColumbiaRulesandRegulation,the'HumanRightsLaw'whichistheforerunneroftheDCHRA,containsnoevidenceofadebateonthesubjectofsame-sexdormsoncollegecampuses.Also,duringthedeliberationsoverthepassageofTitle34,therecordindicatesthattheCityCouncildesiredto"associateouruseof
2
ThisistheprovisionoftheActonwhichthecomplaintisbased.

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