United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
LYDIA A. CHARLES, Plaintiff,
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, et al., Defendants.
C. MULLEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of the
Complaint, (Doc. No. 1), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). See (Doc. No. 3) (Order permitting
Plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis). For the
reasons stated below, the Court finds that the Complaint is
sufficient survive initial review.
se Plaintiff filed this employment discrimination action
on October 26, 2017, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,
and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The Court granted Plaintiff's
Motion to proceed in forma pauperis on December 11,
2017. (Doc. No. 3). The matter is now before the Court on
names as Defendants Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, and
the U.S. Postal Service. Plaintiff was indefinitely suspended
without pay on July 23, 2015, for a “non-adjudicated
alleged off-duty crime situation” that Plaintiff has
denied. (Doc. No. 1 at 2). She alleges that the suspension
was actually due to discrimination and retaliation for prior
EEOC activity. Even though Plaintiff has no prior criminal
history, the U.S. Postal Service took adverse and
discriminatory action against her without just cause. The
U.S. Postal Service has been “relentlessly attempting
to terminate and cause harm to [Plaintiff] from the years
2010-2015” because she has been “trying to
rectify continuing employment discrimination and harassment
through the EEOC administrative process” and filed two
pro se federal employment discrimination lawsuits,
the most recent of which ended on May 7, 2015. Customer
Service Supervisor Ebrahim Ahmed and Customer Service Manager
Philip Zimmerman initiated the suspension with concurrence of
Upper Management Personnel and the Administrative Labor
Section of the U.S. Postal Service. The suspension was
enacted approximately two months after her most recent
activity in an employment discrimination lawsuit against the
agency. Plaintiff has been able and available to work during
seeks damages for injury to her professional reputation and
confidence, loss of wages and overtime amounting to
approximately $200, 000, loss of medical and disability
benefits and thrift savings agency matching contributions,
annual leave and sick leave, lost opportunity for favorable
bidding routes, emotional harm, and medical hardship.
Plaintiff seeks damages.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, a court
must review the complaint to determine whether it is subject
to dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In its frivolity
review, a court must determine whether the complaint raises
an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded upon
clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or
delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 327-28 (1989). A pro se complaint must be
construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972). However, the liberal construction requirement
will not permit a district court to ignore a clear failure to
allege facts in the complaint which set forth a claim that is
cognizable under federal law. Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).
Further, a valid complaint must contain: (1) a short and
plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction; (2) a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a
demand for relief sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).
Section 1981 Claims
VII provides the “exclusive judicial remedy for claims
of discrimination in federal employment.” Brown v.
Gen. Servs. Admin., 425 U.S. 820, 835 (1976);
Bullock v. Napolitano, 666 F.3d 281, 283
(4th Cir. 2012).
to the extent Plaintiff asserts a discrimination claim under
42 U.S.C. § 1981, it provides no remedy against federal
officials and it is dismissed. See, e.g.,
Middlebrooks v. Leavitt, 525 F.3d 341, 349
(4th Cir. 2008) (affirming dismissal of
plaintiff's § 1981 discrimination claim against
Title VII Claims
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, color, religion, sex
or national origin . . . .” 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-2(a)(1). Title VII also prohibits an employer from
retaliating against an employee for opposing unlawful
discrimination or participating in Title VII processes. 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). A plaintiff can prove illegal
retaliation under Title VII by showing that “(1) he
engaged in protected activity, (2) he suffered an adverse
employment action at the hands of [the employer], and (3)
[the employer] took the adverse action because of the
protected activity.” Bryant v. Aiken Reg'l Med.
Ctrs., Inc., 333 F.3d 536, 543 (4th Cir.
2003) (quoting Spriggs ...