United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Defendant Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 11). The Motion
has been fully briefed (Docs. # 22 and 25), and is ripe for
decision. After careful review, and for the reasons explained
below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 11) is due
to be denied.
Complaint, Plaintiff Mary Lewis asserts a single claim of
gender discrimination under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§
2000e, et seq. (Doc. # 1 at 16-17). Plaintiff worked
for two Alabama stores during her tenure with Walmart: the
store in Gardendale, Alabama, and the store in Adamsville,
Alabama. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 9). It is Plaintiff's work
at the Adamsville store which is at issue in this
started work at the Adamsville store in May 1999 as a
Department Manager, and she worked in several different
departments during her employment there. (Id. at
¶ 52). At all relevant times, each Walmart store,
including Plaintiff's, “had the same job
categories, job descriptions and management hierarchy.”
(Id. at ¶15). Prior to 2004, jobs were assigned
to specific pay classes, and “[j]obs were assigned to
the same class regardless of department[.]”
(Id. at ¶ 22). Plaintiff alleges that after
Walmart's pay restructuring in 2004, pay rates differed
depending on department and “many jobs in departments
in which women were over-represented were assigned to lower
job classes, while those same job titles in departments
over-represented by men were assigned to higher job
classes.” (Id. at ¶¶ 34-35).
the start of her time at the Adamsville store, Plaintiff had
reason to believe that two male employees who also held
Department Manager positions, Lance and David (last names
unknown), were paid more than she was despite the fact that
they had the same managerial responsibilities. (Id.
at ¶ 53). Plaintiff eventually confirmed this was the
case. On one occasion while working as Front-End Manager,
Plaintiff logged into Walmart's computer software and saw
pay records for employees in her store. (Id. at
¶ 58). These records indicated that male Department
Managers, particularly Lance and David, were making more than
female Department Managers, including Plaintiff.
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. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir.
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 Fed.Appx. 136, 138 (11th
Cir. 2011) (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 misconduct.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that
all of the well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state
a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be
dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
Motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint fails
to state a claim of pay discrimination. (Doc. # 11 at 4).
Essentially, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's original
Complaint must be dismissed because she has failed to plead
all the elements of a prima facie case. (Doc. # 11 at 5). In
support of this argument, Defendant cites a 2004 Eleventh
Circuit case which was reversed on other grounds and various
district court cases from this Circuit. (Id. at
5-6). Defendant further argues that Plaintiff has not pled
that she was treated less favorably than appropriate
comparators because the comparators to whom she compares
herself worked in different departments. (Id. at
6-7). Defendant also argues that “Plaintiff has not
pled that either of her purported comparators is
‘nearly identical' to her and was paid more for the
same work.” (Id. at 7-8).
responds that her “Complaint provides more than
‘mere suggestion of discrimination, ' and is
distinguishable from the cases Walmart cites.” (Doc. #
22 at 5). She argues that she “has pled sufficient
facts to ‘draw the reasonable inference' that
Walmart discriminated against her on the basis of her
sex” and that she has pled specific facts showing that
the alleged comparators are “arguably similarly
situated” to her. (Id. at 6).
plaintiff need not allege facts establishing a McDonnell
Douglas prima facie case to survive a motion to dismiss.
Nurse v. City of Alpharetta, 775 Fed.Appx. 603, 606
(11th Cir. 2019) (“a Title VII complaint need not
allege facts sufficient to make out a classic McDonnell
Douglas prima facie case [but] it must provide
‘enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest'
intentional race discrimination.” (quoting Davis v.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consol., 516 F.3d 955, 974 (11th
Cir. 2008) (in turn quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
556))); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, N.A., 534
U.S. 506, 510-11 (2002) (holding that an employment
discrimination complaint arising under Title VII need not
contain specific facts establishing a prima facie case under
McDonnell Douglas, but rather need only lay out a
short statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief); Jackson v. BellSouth
Telecommunications, 372 F.3d 1250, 1270 (11th Cir. 2004)
(same). “[T]he standard ‘simply calls for enough
fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence' of the required
element.” Rivell v. Private Health Care Sys.,
Inc., 520 F.3d 1308, 1309 (11th Cir. 2008) ...