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Stubbs v. Compass Bank

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

October 18, 2018

PAMELA STUBBS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMPASS BANK, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 22). Defendant argues Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). After careful consideration, the court agrees with Defendant, but only with respect to two of Plaintiff's claims. Thus, as more fully explained below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Pamela Stubbs is an African American female employed by Defendant Compass Bank. (Docs. # 21 at ¶¶ 2-4, 14). In this action, she asserts claims of sex discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) against Compass Bank. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 4-15).

         Compass hired Plaintiff in or about August 2007, and she remains a current employee of Compass. (Doc. # 21 at ¶ 4). [1] In support of her sex discrimination claim, Plaintiff alleges that she was treated differently and dealt with more harshly than one of her male coworkers. (Id. at ¶ 5). The incident began when Plaintiff became sick and took a few days off work. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that, at the request of her manager, Kelly Ellis, she immediately started receiving harassing calls from HR. (Id.). Upon her return, Plaintiff asserts she was “pulled into meetings with Team Lead Judy Jones and Manager Kelly Ellis concerning her attendance when she only had three occurrences.” (Id.). By contrast, Plaintiff contends that a male coworker, Keitric Wiley, “was only given a verbal warning after his fifth occurrence.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff also alleges that Compass failed to pay her on one occasion because Ellis intentionally failed to submit her hours. (Id. at ¶ 6). Again, by contrast, she claims that a couple weeks later, Ellis told Wiley (Plaintiff's male coworker) to adjust his entries on the system and that she would approve his hours to ensure he was paid on time. (Id.).

         Plaintiff also claims Compass retaliated against her in violation of Title VII. She alleges she complained to Kristen Metty that Ellis was making it difficult for her to meet department goals by assigning more difficult cases to her. (Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff also claims she complained about Ellis walking up behind her and firmly placing a hand on her shoulder. (Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff requested that Ellis stop this behavior and stated that she did not want Ellis touching her. (Id.). Subsequently, Plaintiff claims Ellis wrote negative statements in her evaluations (even though her Team Lead, Judy Jones, told Plaintiff there were no issues with her work). (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff also claims she was accused of constantly falling below expected monthly production goals. (Id. at ¶ 10).

         Finally, Plaintiff asserts a hostile work environment claim against Compass. In support of that claim, she alleges that for several months her coworker, Jacqueline Ligon, defamed her character by spreading rumors throughout the department that she (Plaintiff) had a sexually transmitted disease. (Id. at ¶ 14). Plaintiff also contends Ligon made offensive comments about her hair, clothing, and cleanliness. (Id.). Though Plaintiff claims Ligon's behavior was reported to HR and Compass's company handbook states that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, Plaintiff asserts that Ligon is still employed by Compass and continuing the same behavior. (Id.). Additionally, Plaintiff claims she overheard a coworker say that Ellis planned to fire her when she returned from vacation after Christmas. (Id. at ¶ 15).

         Plaintiff filed this action on April 27, 2018, after she received her right to sue letter from the EEOC. (Doc. # 1). Compass responded by filing a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, a motion for a more definite statement. (Doc. # 15). The court denied the motion to dismiss but granted the motion for a more definite statement and ordered Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 16). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. # 21), and Compass has now moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim (Doc. # 22).

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a 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). The complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. 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 satisfy Rule 8, and neither do pleadings that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. 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. International Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         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 Fed.Appx. 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Assn. v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Analysis

         Compass argues all three of Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The court agrees with respect to Plaintiff's sex discrimination and retaliation claims. However, with respect to her hostile work environment claim, the court ...


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