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Brooks v. Springsted Inc.

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

May 3, 2016

BIANCA D. BROOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
SPRINGSTED INCORPORATED, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION (MOTION TO DISMISS)

Henry E. Hudson, United States District Judge

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Springsted Incorporated's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss, filed on April 8, 2016 (ECF No. 4). Defendant seeks to dismiss Plaintiff Bianca Brooks's ("Plaintiff) claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

I. Background

On a motion to dismiss, the Court takes the well-pleaded allegations as true and views them in light most favorable to the plaintiff. T.G. Slater & Son, Inc. v. Donald P. & Patricia Brennan LLC, 385 F.3d 836, 841 (4th Cir. 2004). Accordingly, the Court finds as follows:

Plaintiff, an African-American female, began working for Defendant as an Administrative Assistant on a temporary basis on November 15, 2012. (Compl. ¶¶ 6-7, ECFNo. 1.) On April 1, 2013, Plaintiff became a full-time, permanent employee. (Id. ¶ 8.) She served as one of two Administrative Assistants in Defendant's Richmond office. (Id. ¶9.) "Jama, " the other Administrative Assistant, is white. (Id.)

On April 29, 2013, Defendant hired Sheryl Dallas ("Dallas") to supervise Plaintiff and Jama. (Id. ¶10.) Dallas performed her supervision while stationed in Defendant's Georgia office. (Id.) Plaintiff contends she performed her job well and never experienced any formal discipline until Dallas began supervising Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 11.) According to Plaintiff, Dallas "struck up a friendship with Jama and repeatedly showed favoritism toward her over Plaintiff." (Id.)

Although both Plaintiff and Jama served as Administrative Assistants and had the same responsibilities, Dallas "repeatedly demanded" that Plaintiff "perform all tasks that her white counterpart, Jama[, ] refused to or could not perform." (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff expressed frustration that Jama could not perform certain basic tasks. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff pleads that Dallas took Plaintiffs expression of frustration as a challenge to Dallas's authority. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, Dallas "further increased her ... favoritism towards Jama." (Id.)

In addition to performing Jama's tasks, Plaintiff claims that Defendant routinely required her to perform tasks associated with the "Analyst" position-a position above that of Administrative Assistant. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff pleads that in January 2015, Defendant rated Plaintiff and billed out her work at the Administrative Assistant level, even though Plaintiff performed Analyst tasks. (Id. ¶15.) According to Plaintiff, Analyst tasks commanded a higher billing rate than Administrative Assistant tasks. (Id.)

Plaintiff pleads that she was tasked with "more responsibilities and harder projects" than Jama. (Id. ¶ 16.) Although Dallas "chastised Plaintiff for wearing earphones during the work day, " Dallas never disciplined Jama for doing so. (Id.) Plaintiff pleads that she never had the opportunity to work overtime while Jama "was given all overtime opportunities." (Id. ¶ 17) Plaintiff alleges Dallas also communicated that Plaintiffs dress "such as wearing boots and scarves-was too ethnic for the workplace." (Id. ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff purportedly expressed her "consternation and frustration" about the favoritism afforded to Jama over the next several months. (Id. ¶ 18.) At one point, Plaintiff "expressly called out Dallas's favoritism toward ... Jama." (Id.) After that incident, Plaintiff was terminated on January 9, 2015. (Id.)

Plaintiffs Complaint contains a single count of racial discrimination in contravention of Title VII. (Id. ¶¶ 19-24.) Defendant now asks this Court to dismiss her Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. ("Def.'s Mem.") 7, ECF No. 5.)

II. Standard of Review

A motion made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges the Court's jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint. In the context of a Title VII claim, failure to exhaust administrative remedies deprives a federal court of subject matter ...


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