United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
NICORIA R. SPENCER, Plaintiff,
TERESA MADDOX, and ORGANIC HARVEST, FAMILY-OWNED MARKET AND CAFE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Nicoria R. Spencer filed this employment discrimination
against defendants Teresa Maddox and Organic Harvest Family
Owned Market and Café. (Doc. 1). Ms. Spencer has
submitted an amended complaint. (Doc. 10). In her original
and amended complaints, Ms. Spencer states that she suffers
from sickle cell anemia. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Ms. Spencer alleges
unlawful termination, failure to accommodate, and
discrimination in violation the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12112 to 12117. (Doc. 1, p. 4).
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Ms.
Maddox has moved to dismiss Ms. Spencer's claims against
her. (Doc. 8). For the reasons explained below, the Court
grants Ms. Maddox's motion to dismiss.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Pursuant to Rule
8(a)(2), a complaint must contain, “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Generally, to survive
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss and meet the requirement of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), “a complaint does not need
detailed factual allegations, but the allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health &
Human Servs. Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1380 (11th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555, 570 (2007)). “Specific facts are not necessary;
the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice
of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Thus, the pleading standard set forth in Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 8 evaluates the plausibility of the facts
alleged, and the notice stemming from a complaint's
allegations.” Keene v. Prine, 477 Fed.Appx.
575, 583 (11th Cir. 2012). “Where those two
requirements are met . . . the form of the complaint is not
significant if it alleges facts upon which relief can be
granted, even if it fails to categorize correctly the legal
theory giving rise to the claim.” Keene, 477
Fed.Appx. at 583.
particularly true with respect to pro se complaints.
Courts must liberally construe pro se documents.
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94. “‘[A] pro
se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94
(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)); see also Tannenbaum v. United States, 148
F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998) (“Pro se pleadings are
held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by
attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally
construed.”). Cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)
(“Pleadings must be construed so as to do
justice.”). Still, a district court “may not
serve as de facto counsel for a party, or … rewrite an
otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an
action.” Ausar-El ex. rel. Small, Jr. v. BAC (Bank
of America) Home Loans Servicing LP, 448 Fed.Appx. 1, 2
(11th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a district
court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint and
construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharms. Inc., 781
F.3d 1296, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015).
the allegations in the original and amended complaints in the
light most favorable to Ms. Spencer, the record indicates
that Organic Harvest Market hired Ms. Spencer as a full-time
cashier and stocker on June 15, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc.
1-2, p. 6). Ms. Maddox was Organic Harvest's operations
manager. (Doc. 1, p. 5). As operations manager, Ms. Maddox
made the employees' schedules. (Doc. 1-2, p. 7). One day,
after Ms. Spencer could not make her scheduled shift, Ms.
Spencer informed Ms. Maddox that she (Ms. Spencer) suffers
from sickle cell anemia. (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 1-2, pp. 5, 7).
For the next several months, Ms. Spencer sporadically missed
her scheduled shifts due to sickle cell anemia. (Doc. 1-2, p.
7). Ms. Maddox moved Ms. Spencer to a part-time work
schedule. (Doc. 1-2, p. 7).
Spencer continued to struggle to make her scheduled shifts at
Organic Harvest. (Doc. 1-2, p. 7). She alleges that
“over the entire course of [her] employment [she] was
harassed about [her] disability.” (Doc. 1, p. 4). In
January 2018, Ms. Maddox informed Ms. Spencer that Organic
Harvest no longer could employ her. (Doc. 1-2, p. 7). Ms.
Maddox told Ms. Spencer, “I'm not putting you back
on the schedule because you're just too sick.”
(Doc. 1, p. 5).
Spencer filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission and received her notice of
right to sue letter on May 6, 2019. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Ms.
Spencer then initiated this action against Organic Harvest
and Ms. Maddox. (Doc. 1).
statement of the case, Ms. Spencer states that “this is
discrimination based on race and disability, ” (Doc. 1,
p. 5), but she indicates elsewhere that she asserts a claim
under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Doc. 1, p. 3;
see also Doc. 1, p. 5 (checking on complaint form
“disability or perceived disability” as the basis
of discrimination)). In her EEOC charge of discrimination,
Ms. Spencer alleged that Organic Harvest discriminated
against her based on her disability. (Doc. 1-1, p. 1). Ms.
Spencer has not presented a charge of discrimination with the
EEOC based on racial discrimination or a right to sue letter
concerning a charge of racial discrimination. (Doc. 1-1, p.
1). Therefore, Ms. Spencer may pursue an ADA action in this
case but not a Title VII race discrimination
Maddox asks the Court to dismiss Ms. Spencer's ADA claims
against her because an individual cannot be sued under the
ADA. (Doc. 8, p. 3). Ms. Maddox is correct. The ADA prohibits
a “covered entity” from discriminating against a
“qualified individual with a disability” on
account of her disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12112.
“Covered entities” include employers with 15 or
more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, and
joint labor-management committees. 42 U.S.C. § 12111(2).
In the employment context, the Eleventh Circuit Court of
Appeals has held that “the Disabilities Act does not
provide for individual liability, only for employer
liability.” Mason v. Stallings, 82 F.3d 1007,
1009 (11th Cir. 1996); see also Rylee v. Chapman,
316 Fed.Appx. 901, 905 (11th Cir. 2009). This means Organic
Harvest may be liable for acts by Ms. Maddox that violated
the ADA, but Ms. Maddox is not a proper ADA defendant.