United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
TAGHREED D. TUTAH, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN DEVELOPMENT, INC., Defendant.
C. Mullen United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. No. 5) filed by Defendant Camden Development, Inc.
(“Camden”). Plaintiff Taghreed Tutah
(“Tutah”) has responded, and Defendant has filed
a reply. This matter is now ripe for adjudication.
following reasons, Defendant's Motion is granted in part,
denied in part.
to the Complaint, Tutah began her employment with Camden in
1998, serving as a Property Manager. On or about September 9,
2013, Tutah applied for leave under the Family Medical Leave
Act in order to receive treatment for “psychiatric and
physical medical conditions caused by changes at her job
implemented by management.” While Tutah was on leave,
she was the subject of a “pointed investigation”
by Camden. As a result, Tutah's credibility and authority
were undermined and her medical information was shared with
Complaint alleges that, upon returning to work, Tutah was
disciplined for “simple mistakes in paperwork going
back several years, ” even though she had never been
disciplined previously. Tutah's supervisors also did not
initiate any conversations with her about her need for an
accommodation. Nonetheless, she continued her employment
without incident until February 2016.
alleges that, in February 2016, she informed her supervisor
and human resources that she needed to apply for FMLA leave
again. Her supervisor, Connie Farr, then instructed her that
there was no need to file for FMLA. Tutah also repeatedly
informed Connie Farr and human resources of her difficulties
performing the essential functions of her job and of her need
for an accommodation, but Camden failed to investigate
claims that her medical conditions “substantially limit
multiple major life activities including the ability to
handle excessive stress.” But despite her conditions,
she “was able to perform her job functions and had
previously received favorable reviews.” Tutah was
instructed to work from home from February 18 through
February 23, 2016, and she complied. Tutah was then
instructed to work at the corporate office on February 24,
2016, and she again complied. On or about February 25, 2016,
Tutah was asked to work at two other properties even though
she had previously informed Camden of a doctor's
appointment scheduled for that morning. On that day, Tutah
was terminated for “alleged employee misconduct.”
On September 21, 2017, Tutah filed this Complaint in North
Carolina state court, alleging: (1) disability discrimination
in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”); (2) wrongful harassment and termination
based on age and handicap in violation of North Carolina
public policy as set forth in the North Carolina Equal
Employment Practices Act (“NCEEPA”); (3) wrongful
harassment and terminated based on disability in violation of
North Carolina public policy, as set forth in the North
Carolina Persons with Disabilities Protection Act
(“NCPDPA”); (4) and negligent infliction of
emotional distress (“NIED”).
November 2, 2017, Camden removed the lawsuit to federal
court. Camden subsequently filed this Motion to Dismiss all
of Tutah's claims on November 9, 2017. After Camden filed
its Motion to Dismiss, Tutah voluntarily dismissed its first
claim for relief under the ADA on November 27, 2017.
Accordingly, this Order only addresses the three remaining
counts under Camden's Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
faced with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must
“accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and . . .
view the complaint in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 7
F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). The Court “assume[s]
the veracity” of these factual allegations, and
“determine[s] whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 679 (2009). However, the court “need not
accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable
conclusions, or arguments.” E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v.
J.D. Assocs. LLP, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000).
Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint or
counterclaim must contain “sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)).
Wrongful Discharge (NCEEPA)
Carolina is an employment at-will state, meaning that
“in the absence of a contractual agreement between an
employer and an employee establishing a definite term of
employment, the relationship is presumed to be terminable at
the will of either party without regard to the quality of
performance of either party.” Kurtzman v. Applied
Analytical Indus., Inc., 493 S.E.2d 420, 422 ( N.C.
1997). However, there is a “public-policy
exception” to the employment-at-will rule. Id.
An employee may accordingly bring a wrongful discharge claim
if the employee was discharged “(1) for refusing to
violate the law at the employers request, (2) for engaging in
a legally protected ...