United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
ASIYAH R. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
EAST PENN MANUFACTURING CO. INC., ROBERT COLLINS, and JIMMY BOBBIT, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., District Judge
Asiyah R. Thomas (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro
se, filed this Complaint on April 4, 2017, naming as
Defendants her employer, East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc.
(“East Penn”), and Robert Collins and Jimmy
Bobbit, two employees of East Penn. (Doc. 2.) A summons was
issued, (Doc. 5), and served on East Penn, (Doc. 12).
Defendant East Penn responded by moving to dismiss pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. (8)(a) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 13.) Plaintiff has
responded, (Doc. 16), and Defendant has replied, (Doc. 20).
Also before the court is Plaintiff's Motion to Seal,
(Doc. 17), to which East Penn objects, (Doc. 21). These
matters are now ripe for ruling, and for the reasons stated
herein, this court finds Plaintiff's motion to seal
should be denied, that Defendant's motion to dismiss
should be granted, and the Complaint dismissed.
the Complaint is extensive and at times unclear, the
Complaint includes claims of discrimination based upon race
and Plaintiff's pregnancy, (see Complaint
(“Compl.”) (Doc. 2 at 2-3), all in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq. Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with
the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) on December 6, 2016. (Compl., Ex. 2
(Doc. 2-2) at 2.) The EEOC closed its file on the Charge
because it “was not timely filed with EEOC” and
issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights dated January 31,
2017. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff timely filed this
Complaint and attached to the Complaint these EEOC documents.
(Compl. (Doc. 2); Compl., Ex. 2 (Doc. 2-2).)
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must 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 Atl. Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A claim is facially plausible if the plaintiff
provides enough factual content to allow the court to
reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged
misconduct. Id. The pleading setting forth the claim
must be “liberally construed” in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, and allegations made
therein are taken as true. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395
U.S. 411, 421 (1969). However, the “requirement of
liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore
a clear failure in the pleadings to allege any facts [that]
set forth a claim.” Estate of Williams-Moore v.
Alliance One Receivables Mgmt., Inc., 335 F.Supp.2d 636,
646 (M.D. N.C. 2004). The court must separate out allegations
not entitled to the assumption of truth, including conclusory
allegations and bare assertions amounting to a
“formulaic recitation of the elements[, ]” to
determine whether the factual allegations, taken as true,
“plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680-81.
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.'” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations omitted).
Nevertheless, liberal construction of a pro se complaint does
not “undermine Twombly's requirement that a
pleading contain ‘more than labels and
conclusions[.]'” Giarratano v. Johnson,
521 F.3d 298, 304 n.5 (4th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).
Failure to State a Claim
first argues that “[a]bsent a clear statement of claims
showing that Plaintiff is entitled to relief, as required by
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the Complaint fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and should
be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6).” (Memorandum of Law in Support of
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (“Def.'s
Br.”) (Doc. 14) at 5.) This court disagrees that
dismissal is required as a result of the allegedly vague and
VII prohibits an employer from “discriminat[ing]
against any individual with respect to his compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's race [or] sex.” 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-2(a). As summarized by Covington v. Randolph Hosp.,
Inc., 147 F.Supp.3d 399 (M.D. N.C. 2015):
In Title VII cases, a plaintiff does not need to plead a
prima facie case of race discrimination in order to survive a
motion to dismiss. McCleary-Evans v. Md. Dep't of
Transp., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th Cir. 2015). But a
plaintiff cannot simply plead facts that are
“consistent with discrimination.” Id. at
586 (alteration in original) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937). Instead, the plaintiff must
“allege facts to satisfy the elements of a cause of
action created by that statute.” Id. at 585.
Thus, if an employee claims to have suffered an adverse
employment action, she must plead facts to raise a plausible
inference that she suffered the adverse action “because
of [her] race.” Id. (emphasis and alteration
in original). Similarly, if the employee claims that her
employer created a hostile work environment, she must plead
facts to establish that “the workplace [was] permeated
with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that
[was] sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the
conditions of [her] employment and create an abusive working
environment.” See Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau
Corp., 786 F.3d 264, 277 (4th Cir. 2015).
Id. at 402-03.
Complaint, while exceeding the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a) in terms of irrelevant details, is far more than a
as argued by Defendant. (Def.'s Br. (Doc. 14) at 7.) The
Complaint alleges numerous instances of specific wrongdoing
during and after the Plaintiff's pregnancy. (See, e.g.,
Compl. (Doc. 2) at 2 (“My supervisor at the time of my
complaints . . . subjected myself . . . to offensive racial
comments, and during my pregnancy heavier work
assignments.”).) Attached to the Complaint as an
exhibit are specific instances of inappropriate racial
comments. (See generally Compl., Ex. 1 (Doc. 2-1).) The
original Charge of Discrimination is attached to the
Complaint and includes specific allegations of racial
discrimination and disparate treatment during pregnancy. (See
generally Compl., Ex. 2 (Doc. 2-2).) Plaintiff's overly
descriptive complaint contains within it specific allegations
sufficient to raise the inference that Defendant took adverse
employment action against Plaintiff because of her race and
pregnancy in violation of Title VII. While a pro se plaintiff
might file a pleading in violation of Rule 8(a) in certain
instances, e.g., Plumhoff v. Central Mortgage
Company, ___ F.Supp.3d ___, 2017 WL 6508942, at *2-4 (D.
Md. Dec. 20, 2017), this court is not persuaded dismissal is
warranted on this basis here, and construes Plaintiff's
Complaint as asserting claims of discrimination based upon
race, pregnancy, and a racially hostile work environment.
Title VII's Limitation Period
also argues that “to the extent that Plaintiff seeks
relief under Title VII, her claims are time barred as found
by the EEOC, since she did not file the Charge within the