United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. # 7). In its Motion (Doc. # 7), Defendant argues that
Plaintiff's Complaint is due to be dismissed. For the
reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is due to be
to her termination, Plaintiff worked as a driver and team
leader for Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority.
(Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 7, 8). She was terminated from her
employment based on her conduct during an incident that
occurred involving a bus passenger. (Doc. # 24 at ¶ 24).
Specifically, she alleges that when a passenger who had been
repeatedly belligerent on previous occasions attempted to
board the bus she was driving, she denied him access by
closing the bus door. (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 17).
The customer then kicked and pushed his way through the bus
door and eventually fell down. (Id. at ¶¶
terminated Plaintiff after an investigation into this
incident. (Id. at ¶ 24). Plaintiff alleges that
she was told that she had been terminated because she
“used extremely vulgar language” during the
incident and because she closed the door. (Id.). She
further alleges that other male co-workers had been
“rude to customers and/or used profane language and not
been terminated.” (Id. at ¶ 31).
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the
complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Still, the complaint must include
enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 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 and conclusions” or “naked
assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in
the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289,
1295 (11th Cir. 2007).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, '” the complaint
must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A
plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556. The Supreme Court has identified “two
working principles” for a district court to use in
applying the facial plausibility standard. First, in
evaluating motions to dismiss, the court must assume the
veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations; however, the
court does not have to accept as true legal conclusions when
they are “couched as . . . factual
allegation[s].” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Second, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim
for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id.
of the facial plausibility standard involves two steps. Under
prong one, the court must determine the scope and nature of
the factual allegations that are well-pleaded and assume
their veracity; and under prong two, the court must proceed
to determine the claim's plausibility given the
well-pleaded facts. That task 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. If the court determines that
well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim
that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed.
VII makes it unlawful for an employer “to discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin. . . .'” Maynard v. Bd. of Regents,
342 F.3d 1281, 1288 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-2(a)(1)). Plaintiff is not required to prove
directly that gender was the reason for the employer's
challenged decision; instead, Plaintiff may rely on either
direct or circumstantial evidence of discrimination. See,
e.g., id.; St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks,
509 U.S. 502, 526 (1993) (“Because Title VII tolerates
no racial discrimination, subtle or otherwise, we devised a
framework that would allow both plaintiffs and the courts to
deal effectively with employment discrimination revealed only
through circumstantial evidence.” (internal quotations
and citations omitted)).
prevail on a claim for discrimination under Title VII based
on circumstantial evidence, Plaintiff must show that: (1) she
is a member of a protected class; (2) she was qualified for
her position; (3) she suffered an adverse employment action;
and (4) she was treated less favorably than a
similarly-situated individual outside his protected class.
See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792,
Motion to Dismiss, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed
to allege any facts demonstrating that it treated her
differently than similarly situated male employees. (Doc. #
7-1 at p. 4). Defendant attaches Plaintiff's termination
letter to its motion (see Doc. # 7-2) and argues
that the letter establishes that Plaintiff was not merely
terminated for vulgar language, but instead was terminated
for “Gross Negligence in the operation of a bus.”
(Id. at p. 2). Because Plaintiff has not alleged
that any of her male counterparts committed gross negligence
in the operation of a bus without being terminated, Defendant
contends that Plaintiff has failed to plead the existence of
a similarly situated ...