United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
C. DEVER III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
December 20, 2018, Rosealene Stocks ("Stocks" or
"plaintiff') filed an amended complaint against
Community Health Intervention & Sickle Cell Agency, Inc.
("Community Health"), Mary McAllister ("Ms.
McAllister"), and Delvin McAllister ("Mr.
McAllister"; collectively "defendants") [D.E.
31]. On January 3, 2019, defendants moved to dismiss
Stocks's amended complaint for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted [D.E. 32] and filed a
memorandum in support [D.E. 33]. On January 24, 2019, Stocks
responded in opposition [D.E. 34]. On February 7, 2019,
defendants replied [D.E. 35]. As explained below, the court
grants in part defendants' motion to dismiss and declines
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Stocks's
remaining state law claims.
Health is a non-profit organization that provides care and
education for individuals and families affected by sickle
cell disease, human immunodeficiency virus ("HTV"),
other sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, and other
health conditions. See Am. Compl. [D.E. 31]¶7. In 2002,
Community Health hired Stocks as a receptionist. See
Id. ¶ 14. Ultimately, Stocks became the
Operations Manager/Grant Manager and, in that role, became
familiar with Community Health's finances and compliance
with state and federal regulations. See Id. ¶
15. Mr. McAllister is the Deputy Director/Chief Executive
Officer ("CEO") of Community Health. See id, ¶
8. Ms. McAllister is the Executive Director of Community
Health and is Mr. McAllister's mother. See Id.
¶ 9. Stocks alleges that Mr. McAllister and Ms.
McAllister together "completely dominate"
Community Health. Id. ¶12.
early 2018, Stocks began to complain to management, including
to Mr. McAllister and Ms. McAllister, concerning alleged
unlawful wage practices, unlawful employment practices,
misuse of federal and state funds, submission of false
information to state and federal regulators, and violation of
Community Health bylaws and corporate formalities. See
Id. ¶¶ 17-18. Stocks alleges that two male
employees, including Community Health's Chief Financial
Officer, made similar complaints to management during this
time. See Id. ¶ 19. Around this time, the North
Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
("NCDHHS") and the United States Health Resources
and Services Administration ("HRSA") began to
investigate Community Health because of Community
Health's potential misuse of state funds and other
possible violations. See id. ¶¶ 20-22. In
February 2018, HRSA recommended that Community Health's
Board of Directors terminate Mr. McAllister for poor
performance and misuse of public funds, terminate Ms.
McAllister, and briefly close to get "its affairs in
order." Id. ¶ 23. Community Health's
board of directors promptly carried out the recommendations.
See id. ¶¶ 24-26.28.
March 2018, Stocks alleges that Mr. McAllister and Ms.
McAllister organized a "coup" of Community
Health's board. See Id. ¶ 29. On March 23,
2018, the board reinstated Mr. McAllister and Ms. McAllister
to their former positions at Community Health. See id. ¶
30. On that same day, Stocks alleges that Mr. McAllister
entered Stocks's office and informed her, in a
threatening manner, that she could leave. See Id. On
March 26, 2018, Mr. McAlister informed Stocks mat she was
placed on administrative leave with pay. See Id.
¶ 31. Stocks did not return to Community Health, but she
allegedly provided more information to government regulators
concerning the defendants' conduct. See Id.
¶ 32. On April 10, 2018, defendants informed Stocks that
they decided to terminate her employment because of
organizational restructuring. See Id. ¶ 33.
Defendants did not terminate any male employees at this time,
even those individuals who complained about the issues that
led to the HRSA's investigation. See id.
timely filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and
alleged unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and
retaliation. See id. ¶38. On April 30, 2018, Stocks
received a notice of rights to sue from the EEOC. See
id.;[D.E. 31-1]. On December 20, 2018, Stocks filed an
amended complaint alleging wrongful discharge in violation of
North Carolina public policy, tortious interference with
contract, civil conspiracy, and sex discrimination and
retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq, ("Title
VH"). See [D.E. 31] ¶¶ 39-76. Stocks seeks
backpay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. See
Id. at 13.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
complaint's legal and factual sufficiency. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662, 677-80 (2009);
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly 550 U.S. 544, 554-63
(2007); coleman v Md. Court of Appeals. 626 F.3d
187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010), affd. 566 U.S. 30 (2012);
Nemet Chevrolet Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com. Inc..
591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009); Giarratano
v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir.
2008). To withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a pleading
"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 (quotation
omitted); see Twombly. 550 U.S. at 570;
Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 302. In considering the
motion, the court must construe the facts and reasonable
inferences "in the light most favorable to the
[nonmoving party]." Massey v. Ojaniit, 759 F.3d
343, 352 (4th Cir. 2014) (quotation omitted); see
Clatterbuck v. City of Charlottesville. 708 F.3d
549, 557 (4th Cir. 2013), abrogated on other
grounds by Reed v. Town of Gilbert. 135 S.Ct.
2218 (2015). A court need not accept as true a
complaint's legal conclusions, "unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments."
Giarratano. 521 F.3d at 302 (quotation omitted); see
Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678-79. Rather, a plaintiffs
allegations must "nudge[ ] [her] claims,"
Twombly. 550 U.S. at 570, beyond the realm of
"mere possibility" into "plausibility."
Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678-79.
evaluating a motion to dismiss, a court considers the
pleadings and any materials "attached or incorporated
into the complaint." E.I. du Pont de Nemours &
Co. v. Kolon Indus.. Inc.. 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir.
2011); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c); Thompson v. Greene.
427 F.3d 263, 268 (4th Cir. 2005). A court also may take
judicial notice of public records without converting the
motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment.
See, e.g., Fed.R.Evid. 201 (d);
Tellabs. Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights. Ltd..
551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007); Phillips v Pitt Cty. Mem'l
Hosp.. 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009).
alleges Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation claims
against Community Health [D.E. 31] ¶¶ 65-73. In
relevant part, Title VII prohibits employers from discharging
"any individual ... because of such individual's...
sex." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Without direct
evidence of sex discrimination, Stocks must show that (1) she
is a member of a protected class, (2) she suffered adverse
employment action, (3) her performance met her employer's
legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment
action, and (4) the action occurred under circumstances
permitting a reasonable inference of sex discrimination.
See Hill v. Lockheed Martin Logistics Mgmt.,
Inc. 354 F.3d 277, 285 (4th Cir. 2004) (en
banc), abrogated on other grounds by
Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. v. Nassar, 570 U.S. 338
(2013); Howard v. Coll. of the Albemarle,
262 F.Supp.3d 322, 331 (E.D. N.C. 2017), affd. 697
Fed.Appx. 257 (4th Cir. 2017) (per curiam) (unpublished);
McDougal-Wilson v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co..
427 F.Supp.2d 595, 611 (E.D. N.C. 2006).
need only plausibly allege a statutory claim, not a prirna
facie case. See McCleary-Evans v. Md. Dep't of
Transp. 780 F.3d 582, 585-88 (4th Cir. 2015). Thus,
Stocks must plausibly allege that Community Health took an
adverse employment action against her because of her sex.
See id. at 585. However, empty allegations of a
causal connection between an employee's sex and the
alleged discrimination do not state a plausible claim. See
Id. at 585-86; Brown v. Goodwill Indus, of E.
N.C. Inc.. 361 F.Supp.3d 558, 563-64 (E.D. N.C. 2019).
Rather, the employee must plausibly allege that the motive to
discriminate was at least one of the employer's motives.
See Nassar. 570 U.S. at 343; Guessous v.
Fairview Prop. Invs.. LLC. 828 F.3d 208, 216 (4th Cir.
2016); Bonev v. Trs. of Cape Fear Cmty. Coll.. 366
F.Supp.3d 756, 765 (E.D. N.C. 2019); Huckelba v.
Deering. No. 5:16-CV-247-D, 2016 WL 6082032, at *3 (E.D.
N.C. Oct 17, 2016) (unpublished).
Stocks's Title VII sex discrimination claim, Stocks
alleges that her sex was a "determinative factor"
in Community Health's decision to discharge her. Am.
Compl. [D.E. 31] ¶ 69. The court need not accept this
allegation as true. See Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678-79;
McCleary-Evans. 780 F.3d at 585-88. Stocks also
alleges that she complained about unspecified sex
discrimination at Community Health and that Mr. McAllister
and Ms. McAllister displayed animus towards her because of
her sex. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18, 34, 36. These