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Chambers v. Walmart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

July 22, 2015

MARCUS L. CHAMBERS, Plaintiff,
v.
WALMART STORES, INC., CALVIN MARTIN, JULIE BEGINES, KIMBERLY MURAWSKI, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on a Partial Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Walmart Stores, Inc. ("Walmart"), Calvin Martin, Julie C. Begines, and Kimberly Murawski. [Doc. #17]. Plaintiff Marcus L. Chambers, proceeding pro se, has responded in opposition to the motion [Doc. #23]. For the reasons set out below, the Court recommends that Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part, as set out below.

I. FACTS, CLAIMS, AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed his Complaint alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., against his former employer, Walmart, and three individual managers. The managers now move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss all claims against them because individual liability as an "employer" does not exist under Title VII. Defendants also move to dismiss Plaintiff's claim of a racially hostile work environment, arguing that Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

Plaintiff alleges that while working at Walmart he was "sexually harassed, verbally harassed, discriminated against training and promotion, retaliation, wrongful termination, two mental illnesses while working for Walmart with lack of accommodation, back pay and pain and suffering." (Compl. [Doc. #3], at 3.)

He alleges that Assistant Store Manager Julie Begines sexually harassed him on several occasions. (Id.) Plaintiff accuses Defendant Begines of repeated unwanted sexual flirtation and advances, massaging Plaintiff's arm, using her hips to bump his hips and other bodily areas, blocking his movement at times, and touching his hand when it was in his pocket. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that Assistant Store Manager Kimberly Murawski "verbally harassed [him] on several occasions using racial slurs, negative stereotyping, verbal kidding, teasing, joking, intimidating acts of bullying, continuously showed hostility towards [him], disrespected [him], as well as degraded [him]." (Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff further alleges that during a staff meeting Defendant Murawski said (referring to herself), "look at me I'm all ghetto, " and also once "used the word ghetto to describe the appearance of the store." (Id.) Plaintiff says that once Defendant Murawski yelled at him and warned him not to walk away from her when she was talking to him. (Id.) Defendant Murawski told Plaintiff one time that she did not trust "associate Donnie and that he looks like the type to steal, " according to Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that on one occasion when they were touring the freezer, Defendant Murawski saw Plaintiff patting his head and remarked, "I'm glad I'm white and don't have to wear weave cause all the black girls I've worked with were always beating their heads and I'm glad I don't have that problem." (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that Store Manager Calvin Martin transferred him to day shift on November 10, 2013, for training but that during the two and half months he was on day shift he "didn't receive any training instead [he] was placed in the freezer and backroom." (Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Martin "saw to it that [he] was written up three times back to back, " "admitted he replaced [Plaintiff] on third, " and stated that he thought Plaintiff was quitting. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that on April 9, 2014, he was "wrongfully terminated with no reason given by [Defendant Martin] and reinstated two days later" by one of Defendant Martin's superiors. (Id.) Finally, Plaintiff says that he was "repeatedly turned down by [Defendant Martin] for scheduling accommodation." (Id.)

II. DISCUSSION

1. Standard

A plaintiff fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) when the complaint 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) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

2. Individual Defendants

The individual Defendants, Martin, Begines, and Murawski, move to dismiss all claims against them because there is no individual liability under Title VII. Title VII prohibits discrimination by an "employer." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. The definition of "employer" does not include supervisory employees. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b); Lissau v. Southern Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 181 (4th Cir. 1998) ("We... reiterate that supervisors are not liable in their individual capacities for Title VII violations."); Cobb v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 1:04CV872, 2006 WL 156876 (M.D. N.C. Jan. 20, 2006) (dismissing for failure to state a claim the plaintiff's Title VII claims against individual employees).

The Court notes that Plaintiff has alleged in his Complaint a "lack of accommodation" for two mental illnesses. (Compl. at 3.) To the extent that this claim is construed as a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, et seq., the ADA defines "employer" in the same manner as Title VII; therefore, the individual defendants are not proper defendants under the ADA. See Baird ex rel. Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462, 472 ...


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