United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PRO'CTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. # 7). In its Motion,
Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Defendant's Motion is fully
briefed. (Docs. # 7, 9, 10). While Defendant has requested
oral argument in this action (Doc. # 11), the issues
presented can be decided with the aid of the parties'
written submissions alone. For the reasons stated below,
Defendant's Motion is due to be denied.
a female, began her employment with Defendant as a
Correctional Officer Trainee in May 2015. (Doc. # 1 at ¶
16). In August 2015, Plaintiff became pregnant. (Id.
at ¶ 18). Plaintiff notified Defendant of her pregnancy
around December 2015. (Id. at ¶ 19). Later, she
provided Defendant a letter from Dr. Greg Banks, dated
January 5, 2016, which stated that she should excused from
performing “PT training” for the remainder of her
pregnancy. (Id. at ¶ 20). On January 21, 2016,
Warden Leon Bolling told Plaintiff that because she was
pregnant she was unable to perform physical training.
(Id. at ¶ 21). Accordingly, Bolling presented
Plaintiff with the option to resign or to be terminated.
(Id.). Plaintiff initially declined to resign;
however, she eventually signed a resignation letter which
Bolling presented to her. (Id. at ¶¶
22-27). Plaintiff later received a letter from Commissioner
Jefferson S. Dunn notifying her that she had been terminated.
(Id. at ¶ 28). Plaintiff contends that she had
satisfactorily performed her duties as a Correctional Officer
Trainee prior to her termination, and that other similarly
situated employees who were not pregnant were not discharged
when their performance was comparable or inferior to
Plaintiff's performance. (Id. at ¶¶
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.
sole claim for relief is made under Title VII. Title 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 race 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
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
the 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, Defendant contends that Plaintiff's complaint
fails to state a claim because it fails to allege that
Plaintiff was qualified for her position. Specifically,
Defendant argues that, as a trainee, Plaintiff was only a
probationary employee. (Doc. # 7 at ¶ 3). In order to
advance beyond trainee status, ADOC Administrative
Regulations (a copy of which Defendant attached to its
Motion) required Plaintiff to complete Basic Academy Training
within a year of her employment date. (Id. at ¶
4). Further, in order to complete the correctional training
course, Plaintiff was required to pass a physical
agility/ability test. (Id.). Defendant contends that
Plaintiff admitted in her complaint that she was unable to
complete these requirements, and as such, she has not pled
that she was qualified for the position. (Id. at
motion to dismiss, the court is required to assume the
veracity of Plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Accordingly, consideration
of Defendant's training policies, which were attached as
an exhibit to Defendant's motion to dismiss, would be
improper, as that evidence falls outside the four corners of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Day v. Taylor,
400 F.3d 1272, 1275-76 (11th Cir. 2005). And, assuming the
veracity of Plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations,
Plaintiff's complaint plausibly pleads that she was
qualified for her position, and that she was asked to resign
and eventually ...