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Kucuk v. Central Washington University

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

November 30, 2017

SELIM UMIT KUCUK, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant Central Washington University's (“CWU”) motion to dismiss pro se Plaintiff Selim Umut Kucuk's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (MTD (Dkt. # 7).) The court has considered the parties' submissions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS Defendants' motion (Dkt. # 7) but also allows Mr. Kucuk leave to file an amended complaint that cures the deficiencies identified herein within 21 days of the entry of this order.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Kucuk, a Turkish-American, is a former CWU employee who worked as a full-time faculty member from 2009 to 2011.[2] (Compl. (Dkt. # 3) at 2-3.) While employed in 2011, Mr. Kucuk applied for a “‘Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Marketing' faculty position[, ]” but was denied. (Id. at 4.) Both the Dean and Department Chair of CWU's College of Business (“CWU-CB”) told Mr. Kucuk they did not consider him for the position because his PhD is not from a university accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (“AACSB”). (Id.) Mr. Kucuk finished his PhD in Turkey at a time when no universities in the country had AACSB accreditation. (See Id. at 5-6.) Later in 2011, CWU did not renew Mr. Kucuk's full-time lecturer contract. (Id. at 7.) He has not worked for CWU since that time.

         In 2011, Mr. Kucuk filed a discrimination charge against CWU with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Id.) In his charge, he argued that he was discriminated against based on his national origin. (See Id. at 7-8.) The EEOC closed Mr. Kucuk's case in 2013 for lack of cause (id. at 8), and Mr. Kucuk did not file a discrimination suit after receiving his notice of dismissal and right to sue (see generally id.).

         Mr. Kucuk applied for a similar “Tenure-Track Assistant/Associate Professor of Marketing” position in 2013 and 2015 at two other CWU campuses; CWU declined to hire him both times. (Id. at 8-9.) CWU again cited the accreditation requirement as its reason for not hiring Mr. Kucuk. (Id. at 9.) In 2015, Mr. Kucuk filed another discrimination charge with the EEOC. (Id.) His 2015 charge led to the current action, which he timely brought on August 21, 2017, after the EEOC closed his second case. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1); (Compl. at 9, Ex. 10 (“Not. of Suit Rights”) at 2).

         In his complaint, Mr. Kucuk claims that CWU used the accreditation requirement for the tenure-track position to discriminate against him based on his national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (See Compl. at 2, 7-9.) He also claims that CWU violated Title VII by subjecting him to offensive remarks from faculty members about his national origin[3] (id. at 3) and by // retaliating against him after he “complained about this discriminatory practice to the EEOC” (id. at 8). Mr. Kucuk seeks injunctive and monetary relief. (Id. at 9.) Specifically, he asks (1) to be compensated for his financial and emotional losses, (2) to be granted the tenure-track position, and (3) for the court to order CWU to change its hiring practices. (Id. at 9.)

         On October 4, 2017, CWU moved to dismiss Mr. Kucuk's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (MTD at 1.) CWU construes Mr. Kucuk's complaint as alleging the following Title VII claims: (1) discriminatory treatment, (2) disparate impact, and (3) retaliation. (Id. at 3.) However, CWU argues that Mr. Kucuk does not allege sufficient facts to show he is entitled to relief under any of these claims. (See Id. at 3-6.) Mr. Kucuk opposes CWU's motion. (See generally Resp. (Dkt. # 8).)

         Because Mr. Kucuk timely filed suit regarding his 2015 discrimination charge but not his 2011 charge (see Not. of Suit Rights at 2; see generally Compl.), the court considers only the allegations related to his 2015 charge. See supra n.3. The court now evaluates CWU's motion.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Although “detailed factual allegations” are not required, a complaint must include “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In other words, a complaint must have sufficient factual allegations to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Under Rule 12(b)(6), dismissal can be based on “the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Livid Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d 940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005). The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Wyler Summit, 135 F.3d at 661. The court also liberally construes a complaint filed by a pro se litigant like Mr. Kucuk. See Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (“A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, “pro se litigants in the ordinary civil case should not be treated more favorably than parties with ...


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