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Barclay v. First National Bank of Talladega

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

October 28, 2014

MARGARET J. BARCLAY, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF TALLADEGA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KARON OWEN BOWDRE, Chief District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on Defendant First National Bank of Talladega's ("FNB Talladega") "Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively, Motion for a More Definite Statement." (Doc. 6). Plaintiff Margaret J. Barclay filed a complaint alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Doc. 1). Barclay alleges that FNB Talladega denied her a promotion because of her race, that FNB Talladega terminated her in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination, and that FNB Talladega subjected her to "unequal treatment." (Doc. 1). FNB Talladega argues that Barclay's complaint should be dismissed because she failed to exhaust administrative remedies for her claims and because her complaint does not plausibly state a claim for relief under Title VII or § 1981. (Doc. 6). Alternatively, FNB Talladega argues that Barclay should be required to file a more definite statement of her claims. (Doc. 6).

The court GRANTS FNB Talladega's motion to dismiss for Barclay's Title VII "unequal treatment" claim, § 1981 "unequal treatment" claim, and Title VII failure to promote claim and DENIES the remainder of FNB Talladega's motion. The court DISMISSES the insufficient claims WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

I. Standard of Review

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint provide "a short and plain statement of the claim' that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). A plaintiff must provide the grounds of his entitlement, but Rule 8 generally does not require "detailed factual allegations." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47). It does, however, "demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pleadings that contain nothing more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" do not meet Rule 8 standards nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon "labels or conclusions" or "naked assertions" without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.

The Supreme Court explained that "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint 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 (quoting and explaining its decision in Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To be plausible on its face, the claim must contain enough facts that "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The analysis is "context-specific" and, to survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its "judicial experience and common sense... to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 679. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claim must be dismissed. Id.

II. Facts and Procedural History

Barclay is an African American female who worked for FNB Talladega in various positions for thirty-nine years beginning in 1974. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 3, 7). Barclay alleges that FNB Talladega denied her a promotion to Supervisor on August 8, 2011 and instead awarded the position to a white employee. (Doc. 1, ¶ 8).

Barclay filed her first Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charge, numbered XXX-XXXX-XXXXX, on August 23, 2011. (Doc. 9, 7). The parties have not submitted the 2011 EEOC charge to the court. According to Barclay, her 2011 EEOC charge initiated an investigation into FNB Talladega for "discriminat[ing] against her because of her age and race in regards to a promotion to Supervisor in the Bookkeeping department." (Doc. 9, 6). FNB Talladega "vehemently denied [Barclay's] allegations." (Doc. 9, 6). The EEOC "issued a reasonable cause finding in [Barclay's] favor." (Doc. 9, 6). The EEOC issue a right to sue letter for the 2011 EEOC charge on August 8, 2013, but Barclay never received it. (Doc. 9, 7).

FNB Talladega terminated Barclay on July 17, 2013. (Doc. 1, ¶ 10). Barclay states that FNB Talladega said it terminated her for "allegedly violating company policy, " (Doc. 1, ¶ 10), but that, in fact, this rationale was a pretext and FNB Talladega actually terminated her in retaliation for filing her 2011 EEOC charge. (Doc. 1, ¶ 17)

Barclay filed her second EEOC charge, numbered XXX-XXXX-XXXXX, on November 5, 2013. (Doc. 6-1, 2). The 2013 EEOC charge is attached to FNB Talladega's motion to dismiss (Doc. 6-1, 2).[1] In the 2013 EEOC charge, Barclay marked "Retaliation" in the "type of discrimination" check boxes but did not mark "Race, " "Age, " or any other basis. (Doc. 6-1, 2). Barclay marked July 17, 2013 as the date the instance of discrimination took place. (Doc. 6-1, 2). The narrative of Barclay's 2013 EEOC charge read:

I filed a previous charge with the EEOC (XXX-XXXX-XXXXX), wherein I complained of being discriminated against because of my Age and Race. On July 17, 2013, my employment was terminated after 39 years of loyal service. I was accused of an infraction that is common practice among other employees.
I was terminated after authorizing a $75.00 check without being a signer on the account for a family member. About 90% of the employees have signed on customers and other employee's accounts where they are not co-signers on the account with nothing being done. None of the other employees were involved in legal actions with the employer.
I believe I have been retaliated against and terminated because I complained of protected activity and for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. This is in violation of section 704(a) of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended.

(Doc. 6-1, 2). The EEOC mailed Barclay a right to sue letter for her 2013 EEOC charge on May 28, 2014. (Doc. 6-1, 3).

Barclay filed her complaint on August 13, 2014. (Doc. 1). Barclay's complaint alleges race discrimination resulting in Barclay's denial of promotion in 2011, (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 2, 8, 11), retaliation resulting in Barclay's termination in 2013, (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 2, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18), and "unequal treatment." (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 11, 18). Both parties agree that the only right to sue letter Barclay received within ninety days of filing her complaint was for the 2013 EEOC charge. ( See Doc. 6, 3; Doc. 9, 7).

III. Rule 12(b)(6)

Defendant FNB Talladega argues that Plaintiff Barclay's Title VII and § 1981 claims should be dismissed because Barclay has not pled the minimal facts necessary to state a plausible claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6).[2] (Doc. 6, 5). Barclay claims, under Title VII and § 1981, that FNB Talladega did not promote her because of her race, that FNB Talladega terminated her in retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint, and that FNB Talladega subjected her to "unequal treatment." (Doc. 1). The court finds that Barclay has pled sufficient ...


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