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Howard v. Convatec, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

March 2, 2015

BELINDA HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
CONVATEC, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION, ORDER, AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.

This case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Docket Entry 1), filed in conjunction with Plaintiff's pro se Complaint (Docket Entry 3). The Court will grant Plaintiff's request to proceed as a pauper for the limited purpose of recommending dismissal of her federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and dismissal without prejudice of her state-law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).

LEGAL BACKGROUND

"The federal in forma pauperis [IFP'] statute, first enacted in 1892 [and now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915], is intended to guarantee that no citizen shall be denied access to the courts solely because his poverty makes it impossible for him to pay or secure the costs.'" Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951, 953 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc) (quoting Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342 (1948)). "Dispensing with filing fees, however, [is] not without its problems. Parties proceeding under the statute d[o] not face the same financial constraints as ordinary litigants. In particular, litigants suing [IFP] d[o] not need to balance the prospects of successfully obtaining relief against the administrative costs of bringing suit." Nagy v. Federal Med. Ctr. Butner, 376 F.3d 252, 255 (4th Cir. 2004). To address this concern, the IFP statute provides, in relevant part, that "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that -... (B) the action... (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted...." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

A complaint falls short when it does not "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (emphasis added) (internal citations omitted) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This standard "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id . In other words, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.[1]

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's Complaint names as Defendants Convatec, Inc., as well as Tanice House, Chris Hazlip, Marty Martin, Jean Doe, Travis Brewington, Stan Benson, Thomas Brugnoll, Jason Prichard (alternately referred to as Jason Patrick), Megan Goode, Annette Holloway, and Crystal Hall (all employees of Convatec or Aerotek Staffing Agency). (Docket Entry 3 at 1-2, 8.) It states that Aerotek placed Plaintiff in a position with Defendant Convatec, where she allegedly suffered race discrimination, violations of wage-and-hour laws, and retaliation for reporting her concerns as to each of the foregoing. (Id. at 3-6.)[2] In support of Plaintiff's claims, the Complaint presents the following factual allegations:

1) "[o]n Monday, May 12, 2014[, ] [Plaintiff] became employed with Aerotek [] and placed on a two year assignment with [Defendant] Conva[T]ec Inc." (id. at 4);

2) "[Defendant] Holloway... offered [Plaintiff] a shift position of 7-3 Monday thru Friday" (id.);

3) during that employment, Plaintiff reported two incidents of racial discrimination suffered by her co-workers:

i) first, "there were occasions when Aerotek employees did not want to rotate [according to] department policies and [were] not forced to do so by [Defendant] Martin (Department Lead) because of discriminatory reasons" (id. at 3); however, "[s]ubsequently, [Defendant] House (Aerotek [e]mployee) reported the situation to [Defendant] Long (Department Supervisor) and soon after proper procedures [were] followed" (id.); and

ii) second, Plaintiff "reported a discriminatory incident against a [Defendant] Convatec mechanic... which occurred on or around May 26, 2014, to [Defendant] Long" (id. at 4);

4) "[o]n June 2, 2014[, ] as [Plaintiff] approached the time clock at approximately 3:10pm having difficulty punching out[, ] [Defendant] Holloway (Assistant Plant Manager) said, You should still be working'" (id.);

5) "[Plaintiff] replied by asking Why employees[] are not paid for the extra 10 minutes [they] are ...


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