United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
KATIE D. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
GUILFORD COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
WEBSTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant Guilford County
Sheriff's Office motion to dismiss for failure to file a
timely lawsuit, failure to exhaust administrative remedies,
and for failure to state a claim. (Docket Entry 11.)
Plaintiff Katie D. Harris opposes the motion. (Docket Entry
16.) Also before the Court is Plaintiff's motion
entitled, “Request For: Judicial Recusal by United
States Magistrate Judge(s).” (Docket Entry 10.) For the
following reasons, it is recommended that the Court grant in
part and deny in part Defendant's motion, and deny
filed this action against Defendant on June 19, 2018 alleging
discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and age
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
1967 (“ADEA”), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621
et seq. (See generally Complaint, Docket
Entry 2.) In its entirety, Plaintiff's statement of her
When applying for this position [with the Guilford County
Sheriff's Office] one of the question[s] asked was
“what would make you a good [candidate] for the
job?” My answer: Because I am an Evangelist and I have
a compassion for as well as a need for helping people. There
was also a request to check credit and I ask[ed] what was the
basis for checking my credit and would this affect my being
hired; because I am coming out of a divorce and my credit has
taken a hit as a result. The answer was no that has no barren
[sic] on your getting hired. I was further informed that they
only looked at it to screen out anyone who would be suspect
for embezzlement or fraud. I was then instructed to go to my
home county and obtain a background check and return it to
the Office for further processing of my application.
Id. at 4. In her section for relief, Plaintiff
The search for employment was extended due to the closing of
the application with this Office for discriminatory conduct.
Damages in the amount of $54, 000 for the year and a half of
continued unemployment encountered as a result of
discrimination by this Office. The entry level offer at that
time of application was $36, 000 to $40, 000 plus paid
vacation and sick leave.
Id. at 4-5.
to Plaintiff's Complaint are three
documents. There is a letter of Determination from
the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) dated May 30, 2014. (Docket Entry 2 at
7-8.) In the letter, the EEOC stated that Defendant's
policy of utilizing credit information to determine whether a
candidate's application will be closed disproportionately
affected Black applicants by screening out Black applicants
as a class. (Id. at 7.) It further stated that,
based on the same information, it was unable to conclude that
Plaintiff had been discriminated against because of her
religion, sex, or age. (Id. at 8.) On September 8,
2014, Plaintiff received another letter from the EEOC
indicating that the Title VII aspects of Plaintiff's case
had been referred to the United States Department of Justice
(“DOJ”) for review to determine if the DOJ would
pursue an action in federal court based upon Plaintiff's
charge. (Id. at 9.) The letter further informed
Plaintiff that if the DOJ brought a federal lawsuit, then
Plaintiff would be able to intervene; however, if the DOJ
declined to do so, Plaintiff would be notified by the DOJ and
issued a Notice of Right to Sue. (Id.) A Notice of
Right to Sue was issued by the DOJ on April 11, 2018.
(Id. at 6.) The right to sue letter does not
reference Plaintiff's claim brought under the ADEA.
(Id.) Plaintiff filed the instant federal Complaint
on June 19, 2018. (Id. at 5.)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may
seek dismissal of a complaint for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
should be granted if the complaint does not allege
“enough facts to state a claim to relied that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In other words, the
factual allegations must “be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Id. at
555. “Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to
demonstrate in a complaint that the right to relief is
‘probable,' the complaint must advance the
plaintiff's claim ‘across the line from conceivable
to plausible.'” Walters v. McMahen, 684
F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570). As explained by the United States Supreme
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. The plausibility standard is not akin to probability
requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility
that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint
pleads facts that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(internal quotations and citations omitted).
12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of a complaint and
“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). Accordingly, a court should
“assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint
and the existence of any fact that can be proved, consistent
with the complaint's allegations.” E. Shore
Mkts. Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d
175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). Although the truth of the facts
alleged is assumed, courts are not bound by the “legal
conclusions drawn from the facts” and “need not
accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable
conclusions, or arguments.” Id.
the Fourth Circuit has a long practice of liberally
construing the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs.
Hill v. Braxton, 277 F.3d 701, 707 (4th Cir. 2002).
A complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff,
“however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). If “a pro se complaint contains
potentially cognizable claims, the plaintiff should be
allowed to particularize those claims.” Veliaminov
v. P.S. Bus. Parks, 857 F.Supp.2d 589, 591-92 (E.D. Va.
2012) (citation omitted).
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in
conjunction with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2).
Rule 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” so as to “give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests .
. . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Rule 8
does not, however, unlock the doors of discovery for a
plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Fair
notice is provided by setting forth enough facts for the
complaint to be “plausible on its face” and
“raise a right to relief above the speculative level on
the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are
true (even if doubtful in fact) . . . .” Id.
at 555 (internal ...