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Jefferies v. UNC Regional Physicians Pediatrics

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

June 14, 2018

SHANNON ORANDA JEFFERIES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNC REGIONAL PHYSICIANS PEDIATRICS and ERIC WELCH, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Thomas D. Schroeder United States District Judge.

         This is an employment discrimination action by Plaintiff Shannon Jefferies, proceeding pro se, alleging race discrimination and retaliation arising out of her alleged discipline and termination by UNC Regional Physicians Pediatrics (“Regional”). Before the court is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Regional and Eric Welch, Jefferies's supervisor. (Doc. 7.) Jefferies has not filed a response. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The complaint, viewed in the light most favorable to Jefferies, provides only the following short statement:

For charges that are stated on EEOC files that are attached, also for loss of wages, stressful and disrupted lifestyle due to lack of employment.

(Doc. 5 at 1.) However, “to determine whether the claim of a pro se plaintiff can withstand a motion to dismiss, it is appropriate to look beyond the face of the complaint to allegations made in any additional materials filled by the plaintiff.” Armstrong v. Rolm A. Siemeans Co., 129 F.3d 1258 (4th Cir. 1997) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). Jefferies has attached two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charges and related paperwork to her complaint, which include the following facts and allegations:

         Jefferies is a black woman who worked as a Certified Medical Assistant (“CMA”) at Regional since September 2014. (Doc. 5-1 at 1.) Welch was Jefferies's supervisor. (Id.) In an EEOC charge filed on June 19, 2017, Jefferies alleged that on March 21, 2017, she was disciplined for attendance issues, including arriving late, leaving early, and “routinely calling-out.” (Id.) On May 23, 2017, she was disciplined again “for unrelated reasons” and “submitted a rebuttal stating [her] belief that [she] was being singled out due to [her] race.” (Id.) Jefferies was disciplined again on June 15, 2017, “for attendance related issues.” (Id.) She alleged that she was the only CMA being held to the attendance standards and claimed she had been discriminated against “due to my race (Black) and in retaliation for my complaint of being singled out due to my race in violation of Title VII.” (Id.)

         On June 20, 2017, Jefferies filed a second EEOC charge. (Id. at 2.) In it, she alleged that on June 19, 2017, she was “abruptly discharged under the guise that [she] had been ‘witnessed going through another employee's drawer and retriev[ing] personal information and then shar[ing] it with other employees.'” (Id.) Jefferies denies this accusation and claims that she was terminated in retaliation for her having filed the prior EEOC charge. (Id.) On March 5, 2018, Jefferies filed this lawsuit against Regional in the General Court of Justice, Guilford County, District Court Division-Small Claims court. (Doc. 1-1.) Regional timely removed the action to this court based on federal question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 1.) Regional then filed the pending motion to dismiss on March 27, 2018. (Doc. 7.) On March 28, a Roseboro letter[1] was sent to Jefferies, advising her of her right to respond and the likelihood that her failure to do so may result in her case being dismissed. (Doc. 10.) Jefferies has failed to respond.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         Even though Defendants' motion to dismiss is unopposed and can ordinarily be granted on that basis, see Local Rule 7.3(k), the court nevertheless must satisfy itself that the motion is merited. Gardendance, Inc. v. Woodstock Copperworks, Ltd., 230 F.R.D. 438, 449 (M.D. N.C. 2005). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . . . 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 plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Jefferies is proceeding pro se and is entitled to a liberal construction of her pleading; however, this liberal construction does not require the court to ignore clear defects in pleading, Bustos v. Chamberlain, No. 3:09-1760-HMH-JRM, 2009 WL 2782238, at *2 (D.S.C. Aug. 27, 2009), or to “conjure up questions never squarely presented in the complaint, ” Brice v. Jenkins, 489 F.Supp.2d 538, 541 (E.D. Va. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         B. Jefferies's Claims Against Welch

         Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), authorizes claims against an employer, but not against non-employers or supervisors. Id. § 2000e-(2)(a)(1) (“[i]t shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to [her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race); Lissau v. S. Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180 (4th Cir. 1998). Jefferies alleges that she was employed by Regional, not Welch. (Doc. 5-1 at 1.) As such, Welch is not an employer, and the Title VII claims against him will be dismissed.

         C. Jefferies's ...


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