United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
J. Conrad, Jr., United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on Tom Lamb's
(“Plaintiff's”) Complaint, (Doc. No. 1);
Lowe's Companies, Inc.'s
(“Defendant's”) Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No.
10); and Defendant's Memorandum in Support (Doc. No.
10-1). Plaintiff did not file a response to the Motion.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted with respect to the right of
association and intentional infliction of emotional distress
causes of action. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's Motion dismissing Plaintiff's fourth and
sixth causes of action, is GRANTED.
2015 or early 2016, Plaintiff filed a Charge of
Discrimination against Defendant with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”),
alleging that he experienced discrimination based on his age,
race, and religion, and that his employment was terminated in
retaliation for complaining about such discrimination. (Doc.
No. 1 at 5). On or about November 11, 2016, the EEOC issued
to Plaintiff a Notice of Right to Sue, advising him of his
right to sue within ninety days. (Id.).
February 7, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this suit, alleging the
following causes of action: (1) age discrimination; (2)
religious discrimination; (3) discriminatory harassment; (4)
violation of right of association; (5) retaliatory
termination; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional
distress. (Id. at 1-11). On May 22, 2017, Defendant
filed a Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to
state a claim with respect to Plaintiff's causes of
action for the right of association and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. No. 10 at p. 1).
Plaintiff did not file a response to the Motion to Dismiss.
is a fifty-one year old Caucasian male and a resident of
Charlotte, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1 at 2). Defendant is a
corporation engaged in the retail sale of home improvement
and construction products, and has its principal place of
business in Mooresville, North Carolina. (Id.). From
March 1999 to November 2015, Plaintiff was employed by
Defendant in various marketing positions. (Id. at
2-3). At the time of his termination, Plaintiff held the
position of Chief Marketing Officer. (Id. at 3).
2012, Defendant hired Mike Jones, an African-American male,
for the position of Chief Merchandising Officer.
(Id.). In 2014, Jones was promoted to Chief Customer
Officer, a position to which the Chief Marketing Officer
reported. (Id.). In the course of supervising
Plaintiff, Jones regularly made comments to Plaintiff that
were antagonistic to Plaintiff's age, race, and religion.
(Id.). With respect to age, Jones told Plaintiff
that he was “the old guard” and disconnected.
(Id.). Jones also told Plaintiff to hire younger
employees so as to better appeal to younger customers and
instructed Plaintiff to encourage an employee in her fifties
to retire. (Id.). With respect to race, Jones told
Plaintiff that Defendant needed to appeal to Hispanics and
African Americans, that Jones's family and friends
thought of Defendant as “country and redneck, ”
and that Defendant overly focused on people like Plaintiff.
(Id. at p. 4). With respect to religion, Jones said
Plaintiff and others deferred much to the “religious
Christian right” and made hostile comments about
Plaintiff's association with, and support of, the
American Family Association. (Id.).
several occasions, Plaintiff requested a meeting with
Defendant's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, to
address the problems with Jones, but was repeatedly thwarted
by Jones. (Id. at 5). On November 19, 2015,
Defendant abruptly terminated Plaintiff's employment.
(Id.). These are the facts alleged by Plaintiff
viewed in a light most favorable to him.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). Except in
certain specified cases, a plaintiff's complaint need
only satisfy the “simplified pleading standard”
of Rule 8(a), Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S.
506, 513 (2002), which requires a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To satisfy the Rule 8
requirement, the showing must consist of at least
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also
Robinson v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 551 F.3d
218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009). “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. “Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, ” however, “do not
the Court must consider all well-pled allegations in the
complaint as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007), and must construe all factual allegations in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, Harrison v.
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th
Cir. 1999), the Court is “not bound to accept as true a
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
Although the court cannot weigh the facts or assess the
evidence at this stage, a complaint entirely devoid of any
facts supporting a given claim cannot proceed. Potomac
Conference Corp. of Seventh-Day Adventists v. Takoma Acad.
Alumni Ass'n, Inc., 2 F.Supp.3d 758, 767-68 (D. Md.