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Grant v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

February 25, 2014

SONYA GRANT, Plaintiff,
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., ET AL., Defendant.


HENRY COKE MORGAN, Jr., Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Sonya Grant's ("Plaintiff') Motion to Strike Certain Affirmative Defenses ("Motion"), Doc. 15, asserted in Defendant Bank of America ("BOA") and Defendant Stacy Klevay's (collectively "Defendants") Answer. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). After careful examination of the parties' briefs and the record, this Court has determined that oral argument is unnecessary because the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the parties' filings, and because the decisional process would not be significantly aided by a hearing. For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike is DENIED.


A. Factual History

Plaintiff Sonya Grant, a Black female, worked for BOA as a Vice President and banking center manager. Doc. ¶ 1, 8. In 2009, BOA rated Plaintiff's performance as "Meets Expectations" at the end of every quarterly and year-end performance review. Id. at ¶ 10. Defendant Klevay, a White female, was assigned as BOA's Senior Vice President on February 1, 2010, making her Plaintiffs direct supervisor. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Thereafter, Plaintiff contends she was denied the same resources as other similarly situated White and Asian managers; was disparately disciplined for passing performance review scores; and was ultimately terminated rather than being reassigned, as other managers had been when their performance was at issue. Id. at ¶¶ 13-14.

Specifically, Plaintiff complains that by April 2010, Defendants fired six of the fifteen to twenty banking associates under her direction, failed to provide her center with experienced replacements for the fired employees, and disregarded her concerns about the effects of having a high number of inexperienced personnel on site. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20. By contrast, Plaintiff claims BOA provided other, similar banking centers with both a greater number and more experienced employees. Id. at ¶ 19.

Additionally, Plaintiff believes that BOA disciplined her on mere pretexts in order to give cause to terminate her. On March 29, 2010, Plaintiff received a written warning for her passing assessment score.[1] She was then issued two more written warnings concerning her performance in rapid succession on April 6, 2010[2] and June 1, 2010, id. at ¶ 18, ¶ 20, before she was terminated on July 23, 2010. Doc. 10 at 1. Plaintiff contends that her termination equates to disparate treatment, as two other White BOA managers received transfers or demotions rather than terminations as a result of their performance issues. Doc. 1 at ¶ 20.

In their Answer, Doc. 14, Defendants filed several affirmative defenses, ten of which are the subject of the instant Motion. They are as follows:

3. To the extent the scope of the Complaint exceeds the scope of the Charge of Discrimination filed by Plaintiff with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC") and the EEOC's investigation reasonably related to those charges, Plaintiff may not pursue claims outside the scope of the Charge. 4. To the extent Plaintiff has suffered any damage or injury, which is expressly denied, Plaintiff has failed to mitigate her damages and, therefore, her claims for relief are barred.... 6. Plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of preventive or corrective opportunities provided by Defendants to avoid harm. 7. Because of BANA's good faith efforts to comply with employment discrimination laws, and its promulgation and maintenance of policies and procedures designed to prevent and correct any alleged discrimination in the workplace, Plaintiff cannot recover punitive damages based on allegations of discrimination by BANA's employees. 8. Defendants have, at all times, treated Plaintiff in a fair and non-discriminatory manner and have legitimate business reasons for their actions. Plaintiffs claims against Defendants are frivolous and brought in bad faith. 9. Plaintiff, by her actions, violated Defendants' policies, rules and/or standards of employee conduct and is therefore estopped, has waived, or is otherwise precluded from asserting the claims for damages or the relief which is set forth in the Complaint. 10. Plaintiffs alleged injuries and damages, which are not admitted but expressly denied, were proximately caused and contributed by Plaintiffs own acts and are therefore barred or reduced in amounts to be determined by the trier-of-fact. 11. Plaintiffs race was not a substantial or motivating factor in any actions Defendants may have taken relevant to her. 12. Defendants would have made the same decisions relative to Plaintiff even absent her protected status. 13. Defendants have acted reasonably and in good faith at all times relevant to Plaintiffs claims and reasonably believes they have not violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, or any other applicable laws. Doc. 14 at 5-6.

In her Motion, Plaintiff claims that objected to defenses should be struck as they fail to satisfy the pleading requirements laid out by the Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

B. Procedural History

As required before filing suit, Plaintiff filed an administrative Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against BOA. Id. at ¶ 8. The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter to Plaintiff and within ninety days, on June 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court. Id . In Count I of her Complaint, Plaintiff claims Defendant BOA[3] violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seg., by racially discriminating against her in denying her "the resources provided to other similarly situated employees outside the protected class" and terminating her employment rather than demoting her. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 23-24. In Count II of her Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 by "intentionally interfere[ing] with Plaintiff's contract of employment..." as described above, "because of their discriminatory animus towards her race." Id. at ¶¶ 30-32.

On July 17, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Doc. 7. Plaintiff responded in opposition on July 31, 2013, Doc. 10, and also filed a Cross Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint ("Motion to Amend"). Doc. 9. Defendants replied on August 6, 2013, Doc. 11, but did not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Amend. On October 18, 2013, the Court issued an Opinion and Order denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. On November 1, 2013, Defendants filed an Answer, Doc. 14, and on ...

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