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Jones v. HCA (Hospital Corp. of America)

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia

April 21, 2014

BARRY F. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
HCA (HOSPITAL CORPORATION OF AMERICA), Defendant

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Barry F. Jones, Plaintiff, Pro se, Henrico, VA.

For HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) / Parallon Business Solutions, Defendant: Susan Childers North, LEAD ATTORNEY, LeClair Ryan PC (Williamsburg), Williamsburg, VA; Naomh Maire Hudson, LeClair Ryan PC (Richmond), Richmond, VA.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

Robert E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.

The matter comes before the Court on the MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. PRO. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 6) filed by Parallon Enterprises, LLC (misnamed in the Complaint as HCA). The defendant also challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction over Jones' Title VII and ADA retaliation claims, though the motion does not make the challenge under Rule 12(b)(1). The plaintiff's Complaint appears to allege: (1) a violation of the Equal Pay Act, 42 U.S.C. § 206; (2) a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2; (3) failure to accommodate and wrongful discharge under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112; (4) retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a); (5) retaliation under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12203; and (6) a Bowman action for wrongful discharge under Virginia common law. For the reasons set forth below,

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the allegations of the Complaint are insufficient to state a claim. Therefore, the MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 6) will be granted.

BACKGROUND

Barry Jones began working as a pharmacist at the Central Order Entry Pharmacy (" the Pharmacy" ) on June 15, 2009. Hospital Corporation of America (" HCA" ) and Parallon Business Solutions (" PBS" ) are named as the defendants. An entity named Parallon Enterprises, LLC (" Parallon" ) filed an Answer to the Complaint and asserted therein that HCA and PBS were erroneously named as defendants. It appears, however, that Parallon is the correct defendant and that it, through HCA, owns the Pharmacy.

Jones recites that he accepted employment at the Pharmacy pursuant to an offer letter, which contained the terms of compensation. Specifically, the Pharmacy offered Jones a " biweekly salary equivalent to the same or similar pay as any Pharmacist under the Equal Pay Act." (Complaint at 2, 11.3-5.) Jones' salary was based on 70 hours of work over each bi-weekly period.

After " several months" on the job, Jones began to suspect that his salary was not equal to other similarly situated pharmacists, and he questioned a co-worker, a white male, on this point. After learning that his co-worker earned a salary equivalent to 80 hours of work over each bi-weekly period (70 work hours), while Jones was paid for only 70 hours, Jones brought the apparent discrepancy to his manager's attention. (Id. at 2, 11.9-12.) The manager, Kirk Frey, explained that the difference could be attributed to the different methods of calculating salary.

Jones avers that he subsequently began to receive " excessive negative performance reviews." (Id. at 2, 1.17.) In addition, he alleges that the Pharmacy began refusing to accept, as non-productive, hours that he logged, assigning tasks that he could not credit towards his production quotas, refusing his requests to work from home, and threatening termination. Jones indicates that performance reviews were closely connected to meeting production quotas. (Id. at 2, 11.7, 17-20.)

According to the Complaint, Jones continued to complain, and as he complained, the " negativity escalated to harassment." (Id. at 2, 11.20-21.) He received pamphlets containing information about sexually transmitted diseases and a rendering of himself as a gorilla. (Id. at 2, 11.21-23.) He alleges that the work environment became highly stressful and led to depression, shortness of breath, insomnia, an inability to focus, and anxiety.

In March 2012, Jones requested medical leave under the Federal Medical Leave Act (" FMLA" ), but he was initially denied leave and benefits. (Id. at 3, 11.8-9.) After submitting additional paperwork, he was permitted temporary unpaid leave. Around this time, Jones discovered that medications prescribed for his depression and anxiety had triggered the recurrence of a pre-existing metabolic condition first diagnosed during his military service. (Id. at 3, 11.13-18.)

Jones discussed these matters with Franka Bowman (an employee in the Human Resources Department), Mary Scott-Garrett (his new manager), and Noel Hodges (the Division Supervisor), but these discussions did not satisfy his concerns. On June 13, 2012, Jones filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ), which alleged that the Pharmacy, its management, and its staff had created a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII.

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At some point thereafter, Jones returned to work. In October 2012, he again met with Bowman, Scott-Garrett, and Hodges, who told Jones that he would be held to his production quotas. On October 24, 2012, he requested an opportunity to work from home, which was apparently granted. (Id. at 3, 1.20 & 4, 11.7-9.) During this time, he continued to receive " negative" emails regarding his performance, which he believed were retaliatory. He complained about the emails to his team leader, Renee Bauserman. Thereafter, Bowman, Scott-Garrett, and Hodges called Jones into another meeting, during which, Hodges directed Jones to report to the jobsite and stop working from home. (Id. at 4, 11.2-9.) Jones states that, at some point, he began working " off the clock" to meet his quotas, but Scott-Garrett informed him that he could not do so. On February 28, 2013, the Pharmacy terminated Jones' employment for working off the clock in violation of company policy. (Id. at 4, 11.9-22.)

On April 1, 2013, Jones filed a second EEOC charge alleging that he had been subject to retaliation for filing the initial EEOC charge and complaining about what he perceived to be retaliatory behavior.

DISCUSSION

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Francis v. Giacomelli,588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff's complaint " must provide enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face." Robinson v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 551 F.3d 218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009) ...


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