United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on defendant's motion for
judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c). (DE 24). The issues raised are ripe for
ruling. For the reasons that follow, defendant's motion
OF THE CASE
commenced this action on March 2, 2018, alleging
discrimination and retaliation on the basis of national
origin, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, as amended (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq.. On December 19, 2018, defendant filed the
instant motion for judgment on the pleadings, seeking
dismissal based on the statute of limitations and failure to
state a claim. Defendant relies upon plaintiff's Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charge
of discrimination (DE 25-1).
OF THE FACTS
facts alleged in the complaint can be summarized as follows.
On October 22, 2012, plaintiff, a Hispanic woman, was hired
as a bilingual patient accounts representative by defendant.
(Compl. ¶¶ 6, 7). Defendant is a healthcare system
with multiple facilities in and around Raleigh, North
Carolina. (Id. ¶ 5). Prior to being hired,
defendant imposed a policy restricting employees from
speaking Spanish except when talking with patients or when on
breaks away from the workplace. (Id. ¶¶ 9,
10). Roughly one month after beginning her job, plaintiff was
threatened with disciplinary action if she used Spanish to
communicate with other employees. (Id. ¶ 11).
Plaintiff raised her concerns with the policy to her
supervisors, Sylvia Daniels (“Daniels”) and
Sherri Allen (“Allen”), but her concerns were
the course of plaintiff's employment, she noticed and
complained of instances where Hispanic employees were treated
differently that other employees. (Id. ¶¶
12, 14). Plaintiff contends defendant enforced company policy
regarding vacation, sick days, and tardiness. (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges she was denied breaks and reprimanded for
leaving her “available” desk lights on.
(Id.). She also alleges she was not allowed a desk
and faced more significant discipline for workplace
February 21, 2013, plaintiff complained to Daniels regarding
Allen's behavior, alleging disparate treatment between
Hispanic and non-Hispanic employees. (Id. ¶
15). Approximately three weeks later, plaintiff received a
“Level 1 Disciplinary Action” for five separate
instances of misconduct. (Id. ¶ 16). On August
27, 2013, plaintiff received a “Level 3 Disciplinary
Action” for giving a patient erroneous information
during patient registration, which plaintiff alleges was
corrected nearly immediately. (Id. ¶ 18).
complaining of disparate treatment, plaintiff faced various
alleged retaliatory actions, such as supervisors yelling at
her in front of coworkers, sabotaging her efforts to transfer
to other departments, commenting that she was not a good fit
for the department, scheduling plaintiff to work so that she
could not have a lunch break, and refusing requests for
exemption from flu vaccine shots. (Id. ¶ 19).
On March 15, 2015, Daniels criticized plaintiff for how she
interacted with patients and mimicked her with a belittling
and inaccurate Spanish accent. (Id. ¶ 21).
alleges that, as a result of stress stemming from her
mistreatment by defendant, she developed anxiety, vertigo,
gastritis, and other conditions. (Id. ¶ 23).
Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination on March 9, 2015,
and subsequently quit her job on April 18, 2015.
(Id. ¶¶ 24, 25).
Standard of Review
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court
“appl[ies] the same standard as a 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss.” Mayfield v. Nat'l Ass'n for Stock
Car Auto Racing, Inc., 674 F.3d 369, 375 (4th Cir. 2012)
(citing Burbach Broad. Co. of Delaware v. Elkins Radio
Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 405-06 (4th Cir. 2002)). To survive
a motion to dismiss” under Rule 12(b)(6), “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Factual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In
evaluating whether a claim is stated, “[the] court
accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes these facts
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, ” but
does not consider “legal conclusions, elements of a
cause of action, . . . bare assertions devoid of further
factual enhancement[, ] . . . unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Nemet
Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d
250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).