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Smith v. Mission Hospital

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

April 2, 2018

BECKY A. SMITH, Plaintiff,


          Dennis L. Howell United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss. [# 7]. On September 12, 2017, pro se Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint. [# 4]. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint asserts claims of sex and religious discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII). [# 4]. On October 30, 2017, Defendant filed its motion to dismiss. [# 7]. The District Court referred the motion to this Court. Accordingly, Defendant's motion is now before this Court for a Memorandum and Recommendation to the District Court. The Court will recommend that the District Court grant Defendant's motion to dismiss [# 7] and dismiss all claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

         I. Procedural History

         On August 14, 2017, pro se Plaintiff filed her Complaint using a WDNC-EEOC Complaint form and included her statement to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), her EEOC right to sue letter, and civil cover sheet. [# 1]. On September 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint and included an almost identical WDNC-EEOC Complaint form, Plaintiff's EEOC statement, and the names of five other people who Plaintiff believes Defendant has discriminated against.[1] [# 7]. On October 30, 2017, Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss. [# 7].

         On November 16, 2017, Plaintiff filed two responses in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss that contained sensitive information and allegations outside the scope of the Amended Complaint. [# 10, # 11]. On November 27, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to strike Plaintiff's responses. [# 12]. On December 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion to strike and again included sensitive materials. [# 15].[2] On January 8, 2018, the Court granted the motion and struck Plaintiff's responses from the docket. [# 16]. The Court directed Plaintiff to file a response that limited itself in scope to the Motion to Dismiss and Amended Complaint. [# 16]. On January 25, 2018, Plaintiff filed her third and appropriate Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. [# 17]. Defendant did not file a reply.

         II. Factual Background

         On April 9, 2001, Defendant hired Plaintiff as a medical records clerk II/office clerk. [# 4, Ex. 1 p. 1] [hereinafter EEOC Stmt.]. In early 2015, a travel registered nurse[3] bullied Plaintiff by inappropriately hitting her across the buttocks and saying obnoxious remarks. [EEOC Stmt. p. 1]. On October 21, 2015, the manager of Defendant's Labor and Delivery conducted an unauthorized chart audit of Plaintiff's medical records. [Id.]. On December 21, 2015, Plaintiff sought legal counsel who advised Plaintiff to file a formal harassment complaint with Defendant's Human Resources (HR). [Id.]. HR stated to Plaintiff that it could not do anything regarding the unauthorized chart audit. [Id.].

         Later, Plaintiff decided to transfer out of her department. [Id.]. Plaintiff asked to be transferred several times and also began applying for other positions. [Id.]. On December 20, 2015, Plaintiff emailed Karen Olsen stating her concerns. [EEOC Stmt. p. 1]. Olsen did not meet with Plaintiff. [Id.]. On February 22, 2016, a privacy officer called Plaintiff regarding the alleged HIIPA violation. [Id.]. On that same date, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.[4] [Id.].

         On April 16, 2016, coworker Gale Holm referred to Plaintiff as “transgender.” [Id.]. Around that same time, Holm stated that a doctor was praying with his patients and that another doctor's last name was similar to the name “Satan.” [Id.]. Later, Plaintiff discovered that Holm and another coworker had made comments about Plaintiff on a private Labor and Delivery Department Facebook page. [EEOC Stmt. p. 1].

         On May 24, 2016, Plaintiff received an email stating that she was no longer protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). [Id.]. On May 26, 2016, Plaintiff met with HR. [Id.]. HR told Plaintiff that she needed to attend sessions with the Employee Assistance Network (EAN) for yelling at coworkers. [Id.]. Plaintiff asked HR about who had accused Plaintiff of yelling. [Id.]. HR did not disclose any names. [Id. at pp. 1-2]. Plaintiff declined to attend EAN and refused to sign any false accusations against her. [EEOC Stmt. p. 2]. HR accused Plaintiff of not applying for lateral positions within Mission Hospital, however, Plaintiff alleges that this was not true. [Id.].

         On June 9, 2016, Defendant fired Plaintiff. [Id.]. At some point following the termination, Plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC. [See id.].[5] On May 22, 2017, the EEOC mailed Plaintiff a right to sue letter. [# 1, Ex. 1; Am. Compl. p. 3]. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges the following discriminatory acts: (1) failure to promote; (2) termination of employment; (3) denial of equal pay/work; (4) sexual harassment; (5) general harassment; (6) other acts. [Am. Compl. p. 3]. Plaintiff alleges that the discriminatory acts where done so because of her sex and religion. [Id.]. Under “Cause of Action” of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff specifically alleges in count one that she applied for other positions within Defendant Mission Hospital and was denied transfer. [Id. p. 4]. As supporting facts, Plaintiff states that her pay was topped out at $ 19.50 per hour, including base pay, weekender pay, and third shift pay. [Id.]. Plaintiff's manager waited until Plaintiff's FMLA time expired and then fired Plaintiff. [Id.]. In count two, Plaintiff re-alleges that coworkers had talked about Plaintiff via Facebook. [Id.]. Plaintiff states that she informed her supervisor. [Am. Compl. p. 4]. In her supporting facts for count two, Plaintiff states that Defendant's HR denied the existence of the Facebook page, however, Plaintiff knows people who can testify to its existence. [Id.].

         Plaintiff lists many injuries, including financial loss, defamation of character, and pain and suffering. [Id.]. For relief, Plaintiff requests monetary compensation. [Id. p. 6].

         III. Legal Standard

         The central issue for resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is whether the claims state a plausible claim for relief. See Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 189 (4th Cir. 2009). In considering a defendant's motion, the Court accepts the allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v., Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009); Giacomelli, 588 F.3d at 190-92. Although the Court accepts well-pled facts as true, it is not required to accept “legal conclusions, elements of a cause of ...

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