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Lewis v. Jaye

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

July 7, 2017

JOEL LEWIS, JR., Plaintiff,
MIKE JAYE, et al., Defendants.



         This case is before the court on Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. # 5) and the Reassignment Order transferring this case to the undersigned (Doc. # 6). In the reassignment order, the Magistrate Judge explained that he would not be able to obtain consent from all parties in this action before conducting the preliminary screening of Plaintiff's amended complaint mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The court has reviewed Plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to § 1915. After careful review, the court concludes that Plaintiff's claims against all but one Defendant are due to be dismissed without prejudice. Moreover, the court concludes that Plaintiff's claims against the remaining Defendant must be repled in a Second Amended Complaint.

         I. The Amended Complaint's Allegations

         Plaintiff's amended complaint presents claims against (1) unidentified office staff for Swift Lumber, (2) Mike Jaye, (3) Don Gordon, (4) Steve Reynolds, (5) Peacock Pavers, and (6) Swift Lumber. (Doc. # 5 at 1, 5-6). Plaintiff claims that Defendants discriminated against him by failing to hire him, subjecting him to unequal terms and conditions of employment, retaliating against him, and terminating his employment. (Id. at 3). He alleges that Defendants discriminated against him because of his race, color, and gender. (Id. at 7). He further asserts that the court has jurisdiction over his claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Id. at 5).

         According to the amended complaint, Defendant Swift Lumber hired Plaintiff to work for one week. (Id. at 12). Then, Defendant Mike Jaye fired Plaintiff and explained that he had the right to fire Plaintiff without cause because Plaintiff had worked for Swift Lumber for less than ninety days. (Id.). Swift Lumber's plant manager informed Plaintiff that he could do nothing to remedy the situation. (Id. at 13). Plaintiff applied for other positions at Swift Lumber for the next four years but received no response. (Id.). A Swift Lumber employee then told him that the company does not re-hire employees. (Id. at 14). Plaintiff complains that Swift Lumber fired him for no reason. (Id.).

         Plaintiff allegedly worked for Defendant Peacock Pavers from June 2016 to March 16, 2017. (Id. at 7). Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on March 3, 2017. (Id. at 4). Peacock Pavers allegedly fired Plaintiff in March 2017 for failing to produce “perfect pavers.” (Id. at 10). According to Plaintiff, Peacock Pavers's staff conducted no investigation before firing him. (Id.). Moreover, he claims Defendant Steve Reynolds told an unemployment board that the company had fired Plaintiff for presenting false allegations to the EEOC. (Id. at 10).

         Plaintiff has attached an offense report from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office to his amended complaint. (Id. at 9). The offense report states that Defendant Reynolds “had been aggressive and threatening” towards Plaintiff while Plaintiff worked at Peacock Pavers. (Id.). Plaintiff reported to an officer that Reynolds had threatened to “do everything he could to get [Plaintiff] out of this workplace.” (Id.). In March 2017, Reynolds learned of Plaintiff's EEOC complaint. (Id.). On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff came to his worksite and presented an excuse for missing work. (Id.). He contends Reynolds aggressively approached him and yelled at him. (Id.). Reynolds left the conversation and returned with a hammer, which he held in his pocket. (Id.). According to Plaintiff, Reynolds threatened to “blow his brains out” if the EEOC complaint caused Reynolds to lose his job. (Id.). Plaintiff reported the incident to the sheriff's office on March 17, 2017. (Id.).

         II. Standard of Review

         In actions where a plaintiff has been granted in forma pauperis status, the court is obligated to dismiss the action if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim for relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) & (ii). The court conducts the review required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) using the standards applied to motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Alba v. Montford, 517 F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2008). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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. In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 F. App'x 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (unpublished) (quoting Am. Dental Assn. v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)).

         III. Analysis

         After careful review, the court concludes that all claims against Defendants Jaye, Reynolds, Gordon, office staff of Swift Lumber, and Swift Lumber are due to be dismissed without prejudice. Additionally, the court concludes that Plaintiff should be required to re-plead his claims against Defendant Peacock Pavers before the Clerk of Court effectuates service on that Defendant.

         A. All Title VII Claims Against Individual Defendants are Due to be Dismissed

         Plaintiff has included (or sought to include) several individuals -- Jaye, Reynolds, Gordon, and unidentified office staff -- as Defendants in this action. However, the only law cited by Plaintiff in support of his claims is Title VII. (See Doc. # 5 at 5). It is well settled that a plaintiff cannot sue an individual employee under Title VII. E.g., Albra v. Advan, Inc., 490 F.3d 826, 832 (11th Cir. 2007). Thus, Plaintiff cannot bring a Title VII claim against Jaye, Reynolds, Gordon, or any individual employee in Swift Lumber's office staff. Therefore, these Defendants are due to be dismissed without prejudice from this action.

         B. Plaintiff's Title VII Claims Against Defendant Swift Lumber are Due to be Dismissed for Failure to Plead ...

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