United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Liam O'Grady United Stales District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Millennium Corp.'s Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). As outlined below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT the Motion in part and DENY the motion in part.
On June 1, 2005, Millennium hired Plaintiff Lisa Taylor, an African-American woman, who was living in New Orleans, LA, to work as an office manager in Millennium's Arlington, Virginia, office. At that time, Millennium was a fairly young business that was growing quickly. Taylor alleges that Millennium made several oral promises to her when she was hired. Specifically, Taylor alleges that Millennium promised her that she would be mentored and primed for a higher level position in the company, that "her wages would always be in at least the 75% of the median range, " that she would be compensated for her contributions as one of the first employees in the company, and that she would be placed in a separate Bonus Pool based on her time with the company.
Taylor alleges that Millennium never followed through on these promises and engaged in continuous race, sex, and age discrimination throughout her time at Millennium. Taylor says this discrimination began in 2010. Around this time, during after hour meetings and dinners, Millennium's COO, Cedric Henry, made statements about creating a "whiter" and "younger" look for Millennium by moving older and non-Caucasian employees to less visible positions. Soon after Henry began making these comments, he told Taylor that he planned to replace black managers with Caucasian managers, even if they were less qualified. Plaintiff told Henry that this course of action was illegal. Shortly thereafter, Taylor was sent to Belcamp/Aberdeen, Maryland, to help open a new satellite office. Taylor asserts that this transfer was a demotion because she was no longer involved in making key decisions in the company's corporate headquarters. In addition, Kevin Jennings, Millennium's CEO stated in a manager and executive meeting that he did not want Taylor to have "manager" in her title.
Taylor next alleges that, in general, Millennium discriminated against African-American employees by giving them fewer raises and promotions than the Caucasian employees. Taylor also alleges Millennium promoted younger employees who were less qualified and experienced than older employees who were not promoted. Plaintiff alleges that she specifically was discriminated against when she requested a promotion to Operations Manager in January of 2012 and was denied. The Operations Manager position was never considered open, but a few months later, Millennium promoted Brent Ishizaki to Operations Manager. Ishizaki is Caucasian and under 40 years old. Taylor maintains that she was more qualified for the position than Ishizaki because she had more work experience. Taylor has identified Ishizaki as an employee who held an analogous position to her. Taylor maintains that her responsibilities were similar to Ishizaki's, but she was paid $35, 000 less than Ishizaki.
Taylor next alleges that the African-Americans that worked at Millennium were subject to conduct that created a hostile work environment. In support of this hostile work environment claim, Taylor alleges that in May of 2013 African-American employees were not given bonuses while Caucasian employees were. Caucasian employees were also permitted to work at home on occasion while African-American employees were not. Further, Taylor alleges that Millennium terminated eleven minority employees over the last three years while it allowed Caucasian employees with performance issues to remain with the company or resign. In addition, Taylor alleges that Henry made several discriminatory comments to Plaintiff about African-Americans. For example, Henry told Plaintiff that he "did not trust African-Americans because they are always trying to take the easy way out." Taylor says all of these things created a hostile work environment.
On May 27, 2014, Taylor filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging race discrimination, age discrimination, and retaliation. Taylor received a right to sue letter from the EEOC on May 19, 2015.
Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this Court on August 15, 2015. This Court dismissed the Complaint on a 12(b)(6) motion on December 18, 2015. Taylor then filed an Amended Complaint on January 19, 2016. Taylor asserts four causes of action, two of which assert multiple grounds on which they rest. They are as follows:
(1) Violation of Title VII
(a) based on race; and
(b) based on "racial disparate impact";
(2) Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for
(a) failure to promote based on race;
(b) demotion based on race;
(c) hostile work environment based on race;
(d) retaliation based on race;
(e) disparate impact based on race; and
(f) unequal pay based on race;
(3) Violation of the Age Discrimination Act; and
(4) Violations of the Equal Pay Act.
II. Legal Standard
A. Rule 12(b)(1): Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to move for dismissal of a claim based on a court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The party asserting subject matter jurisdiction bears the burden of proving jurisdiction exists. Piney Run Preservation Ass'n v. Cnty. Comm'rs of Carroll Cty., 523 F.3d 453, 459 (4th Cir. 2008). "In determining whether jurisdiction exists, the district court is to regard the pleadings' allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). "The district court should apply the standard applicable to a ...