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Lane v. Cummins, Inc.

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

May 29, 2018



          Frank D. Whitney, United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. No. 1) pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because Plaintiff appears pro se, the Court issued a Roseboro notice (Doc. No. 16). Plaintiff timely responded (Doc. No. 18), and Defendant then replied to Plaintiff's Response Motion (Doc. No. 19). Upon review by the Court, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED, and Plaintiff's suit is dismissed without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Norma Darwin Lane filed this action[1] in this Court on January 25, 2018. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is a resident of Fort Mill, South Carolina, and an employee of Cummins, Inc., (“Defendant”), which is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1, p. 1).

         Defendant hired Plaintiff in October 2001 to work as an Accounts Receivable Analyst. (Doc. No. 1, p. 2). In March of 2017, Plaintiff learned that various positions in the accounting department, including hers, would be transferred to and consolidated with Defendant's Nashville office. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges she was led to believe that she would be laid off because of this change while a younger employee in Plaintiff's same department would be retained. Id. Plaintiff alerted her manager about the alleged appearance of age discrimination, and on May 4, 2017, she filed Charge No. 403-2017-01104 (“EEOC Charge”) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Id. In her EEOC Charge, Plaintiff alleged Defendant had violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by not eliminating “all of the similarly situated positions” at her branch location. (Doc. No. 13-1, p. 2).

         On June 30, 2017, Defendant told Plaintiff that her job would be retained until at least October of that year. (Doc. No. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff alleges that because of the EEOC Charge, Defendant had retaliated against Plaintiff by questioning the quality of her work, monitoring her closely, excluding her from trainings and meetings, and keeping her employment status in limbo. Id. at 3-4. On October 31, 2017, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” letter, notifying her the EEOC was unable to conclude that Defendant violated any anti-discrimination statutes. (Doc. No. 1, p. 7).

         Plaintiff remained employed with Defendant until she contends she was “forced” to resign on April 10, 2018. (Doc. No. 18, p. 4). Plaintiff alleges Defendant forced her to resign when her cubicle was moved closer to her supervisor for closer monitoring, which added to the stress and harassment Plaintiff had allegedly suffered at the hands of Defendant. Id.

         Plaintiff filed this present suit in January of 2018, and Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice on April 9, 2018. (Doc. No. 12).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Construed liberally, Plaintiff has alleged: (1) age discrimination, (2) constructive discharge and (3) retaliation. (Doc. Nos. 1, 18). Defendant moves this Court to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety and with prejudice. (Doc. No. 13, pp. 1, 13). Defendant argues Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for her age discrimination claim (Doc. No. 13, p. 1), and this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's retaliation and constructive discharge claims because Plaintiff failed to exhaust the administrative remedies.

         A. Failure to State a Claim

         1. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the “legal sufficiency of the complaint” but “does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992); Eastern Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Assoc. Ltd. Partnership, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss will survive if it contains “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, do not suffice.” Id. The Supreme Court has also opined:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” In addition, when ruling on a defendant's motion to ...

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