United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
RUKIYA P. McCLAIN, Plaintiff,
STATE OF ALABAMA DEPARMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, et al., Defendants.
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the court on Defendants‘ Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff‘s Complaint. (Doc. # 6). Plaintiff
has responded (Doc. # 11), and the Motion is ripe for
decision. After careful review, and for the reasons
explained below, the court concludes that Defendants‘
Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted in part and denied in
Rukiya P. McClain, claims that Defendants discriminated
against her based on her race and sex in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e, et seq. (Doc. # 1). She also
raises a retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-3(a). (Id.). In
support of these claims, Plaintiff alleges the following
facts in her Complaint.
an African-American female, was employed as a Child Welfare
Worker for over thirteen years with Defendant Jefferson
County Department of Human Resources (hereinafter
“Jefferson County DHR”). (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 10).
Plaintiff asserts that although she performed her job
competently throughout her employment, Defendant routinely
treated her differently than her “white and/or male
and/or younger counterparts.” (Id. at ¶
Plaintiff alleges that on July 8, 2015 at 3:36 a.m., her
co-worker, Chrislyn Pepper, received a call through the
crisis stabilization unit of DHR. (Id. at ¶
13). Pepper then transferred the call to Plaintiff, who was
on call for the night shift. (Id. at ¶ 14).
Together, they questioned the “Reporter” (that
is, the person making the report) and determined that his
information did not amount to a “neglect or
endangerment call.” (Id. at ¶¶ 15,
18). Plaintiff claims that they investigated the background
of the mother and child in question, but did not detect any
history or association with the Reporter. (Id. at
¶ 24). She further contends that at the time of this
call, DHR had no policy or procedure that required its
employees to perform a search for a history on a Reporter.
(Id. at ¶ 22). Plaintiff claims that pursuant
to DHR policy, she and Pepper did not investigate the
Reporter‘s history because they had no reason to
believe there was any allegation against him relating to the
abuse or neglect of a child. (Id. at ¶ 23).
15, 2015, Plaintiff met with the Assistant Director and
Program Manager at Jefferson County DHR. (Id. at
¶ 25). During that meeting, they allegedly informed
Plaintiff that she would be receiving a “Charge
Letter”for disciplinary action based on her response to
the July 8, 2015 call. (Id.). Thereafter, Defendants
held an administrative hearing on August 12, 2015 that
resulted in Plaintiff‘s termination on October 2, 2015.
(Id. at ¶¶ 26, 27; Doc. # 1-1). According
to Plaintiff, Defendants‘ justification for her
termination was that she failed to perform her job according
to DHR Rules and the Rules of the State Personnel Board.
Plaintiff claims that Pepper was disparately
treated-i.e., not disciplined for her handling of
the same call. (Id. at ¶ 33). Instead,
Plaintiff submits that Pepper was promoted to supervisor on
or about September 16, 2015, just weeks before
Plaintiff‘s termination. (Id. at ¶ 34).
Plaintiff alleges that Pepper was treated more leniently
because she is “apparently a bi-racial female and her
age is believed to be less than 40, her nationality is
unknown…her color/complexion is light, and she has no
known prior protected activity.” (Id. at 4).
Plaintiff also avers that her “white and/or male and/or
younger colleagues”who failed to adequately perform
their jobs by contributing to “child injuries and or
deaths”were not similarly punished or terminated.
(Id. at ¶ 32).
February 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination
against Defendants with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC-). (Doc. # 1-1). Plaintiff‘s
EEOC charge asserts that she was subjected to (1)
discrimination based on race, sex, color, age, and national
origin and (2) retaliation for engaging in protected
activity. (Id.). She indicated that the alleged
discrimination began on August 12, 2015 (the date of her
administrative hearing). (Id.). The court notes that
February 18, 2016 is within 180 days of the alleged unlawful
12, 2018, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a Dismissal and Notice of
Rights. (Doc. # 1-2). Although Plaintiff does not indicate
when she received this letter, Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure creates a presumption that receipt occurs
three days after the mailing date. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 6(d). Because three days after the mailing date was
Sunday, July 15, 2018, Plaintiff is presumed to have received
the Dismissal and Notice of Rights on Monday, July 16, 2018.
Plaintiff filed her Complaint initiating this action on
October 14, 2018. (Doc. # 1). The court notes that this date
is within ninety (90) days of July 16, 2018, the date
Plaintiff is presumed to have received the letter.
Standard of Review
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). However, 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 meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings
suffice 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 non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. International
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.
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
Ass'n 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