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Roundtree v. Givens Highland Farms, LLC

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

February 8, 2019

DEBBIE O. ROUNDTREE, Plaintiff,
v.
GIVENS HIGHLAND FARMS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION

          David S. Cayer, United States Magistrate Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(1), ” Doc. 7, Defendant's “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(6), ” Doc. 15, and the parties' associated briefs and exhibits, Docs. 16, 17, 18 and 20.

         This matter was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) on December 3, 2018, and these Motions are now ripe for consideration.

         Having fully considered the arguments, the record, and the applicable authority, the undersigned respectfully recommends that Defendant's “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(1)” be granted and Defendant's “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(6)” be denied, as discussed below.

         I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Accepting the allegations of the Complaint, Doc. 1, Ex. 2, as true, Plaintiff Debbie Rountree is a woman of African-American heritage with a light complexion. Defendant Givens Highland Farms, LLC operates an assisted living facility. Plaintiff was hired as an Environmental Services Supervisor by Defendant in May 2017. Plaintiff was a good employee who performed all the essential functions of her job. She was highly motivated, worked well with co-workers and performed her duties skillfully and professionally. Plaintiff was subjected to multiple incidents of discrimination and harassment due to her race. In August 2017, she complained about these incidents to Defendant's Administrator but no action was taken. Plaintiff was also treated differently than similarly situated white supervisors. On October 2, 2017, Defendant's Human Resources Director fired Plaintiff stating “Culturally, you bring nothing to the table and nothing to this company. We're going to terminate your employment…” Id. at ¶ 245.

         Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination, No. 430-2018-00773, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging race discrimination. She signed the Charge on January 12, 2018 and it is file stamped January 19, 2018. Her January EEOC charge states in its entirety:

I. In May 2017, I was hired by the above-mentioned employer to do cleaning. From time to time, I overheard other cleaning staff members talking to each other about me and asking if I was a black or a white person. In October 2017, I was discharged.
II. No. reason was given to me for the discharge.
III. I believe I have been discriminated against due to my race (Black/African-American) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

Doc. 8, Ex. 1. Plaintiff checked the box for “Race” as the basis of discrimination. Id. She alleged that the discrimination occurred on October 2, 2017. On January 19, 2018, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter.

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in Buncombe County Superior Court on May 10, 2018 together a with Civil Summons to be Served with Order Extending Time to File Complaint. She alleged five causes of action: (1) violation of Title VII Racial Discrimination, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; (2) violation of Title VII Retaliation, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended by 42 U.SC. § 1981A (a)(1); (3) Wrongful Discharge in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-422.1, et seq.; (4) Violation of Reconstruction Era Statutes, 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and (5) Civil Conspiracy.

         On June 13, 2018, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal to this Court based upon federal question jurisdiction. On July 13, 2018, Defendant filed its “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(1), ” Doc. 7, arguing that Plaintiff's retaliation claim should be dismissed because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies.[1] On August 24, 2018, Defendant filed its “Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to 12(b)(6), ” Doc. 15, arguing that Plaintiff's racial discrimination and retaliation claims should be dismissed because she failed to assert them within ninety days following receipt of her right to sue letter dated October 26, 2017.

         II. ...


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