United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
LATOYA A. TATE, Plaintiff,
THE HOME DEPOT, ET. AL, Defendants.
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge.
18, 2016, LaToya Tate (“Plaintiff”) filed the
present action against The Home Depot, Brett Newman, and
Sarah Motley (“Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges
that she was subjected to unlawful retaliation and
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Defendants have each
filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). [ECF Nos. 10, 14, 20.] The matter was
fully briefed, and the parties appeared before me on December
15, 2016. For the reasons stated below, I will deny The Home
Depot's Motion, and I will grant the motions filed by
Newman and Motley.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
around October 28, 2011, Plaintiff was first hired as a
part-time cashier at The Home Depot in Danville, Virginia.
(Brett Newman Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, at 1, Aug. 31,
2016 [ECF No. 11] (hereinafter “Newman Br.”).)
Plaintiff was eventually promoted to a full-time sales
position in the paint department. (Id.) According to
Plaintiff, she filed a Charge of Discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunities Commission
(“EEOC”) on May 26, 2014 (“the First
Charge”). (Resp. to Order, at 3-11, Dec. 12, 2016
[ECF No. 36].) The First Charge alleged that The Home Depot
perpetuated a “racially hostile work environment,
” and that the store's management had done little
to address complaints made by Plaintiff and others regarding
her coworkers' use of racially insensitive language in
the workplace. (Resp. to Order, at 7-8.) She also alleged
that she was denied a promotion due to her race.
(Id. at 8.)
also alleges that her supervisors retaliated against her for
filing the First Charge. She alleges that Newman, the Store
Manager, “[s]ingled [Plaintiff] out to clean floors and
other departments that were already clean.” (Compl.
¶ 9B.) Further, Motley, a Department Supervisor,
“[s]ubjected [Plaintiff] to maintaining a work log that
no one else in the department was required to use, ”
and Plaintiff “began to receive write-ups that were
unfair and untrue.” (Id. at ¶¶
November 6, 2014, The Home Depot terminated Plaintiff's
employment. (Compl. ¶ 3.) According to Plaintiff, she
was told that her termination was due to
“[i]nsubordinate conduct towards management.”
(Compl. ¶ 9C.) She then filed another EEOC charge on
January 15, 2015 (“the Second
Charge”). (Resp. to Order, at 12-15.) On both
charges, the EEOC's investigation was inconclusive, and
Plaintiff was issued two notices of right to sue on February
18, 2016. (Notices of Right to Sue, February 18, 2016 [ECF
12(b)(6) motions to dismiss are before the Court. Motley and
Newman have each moved to dismiss the claims against them on
the basis that Title VII does not authorize suits against
supervisors in their individual capacity. In the alternative,
they argue that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to meet the
pleading standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). (See
generally Sarah Motley Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss,
Sept. 15, 2016 [ECF No. 15].) The Home Depot also filed a
Motion to Dismiss under 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff has
(1) failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, and (2)
failed to meet the pleading standards of Rule 8(a).
(See The Home Depot Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss,
Oct. 21, 2016 [ECF No. 21] (hereinafter “The Home Depot
Br.”).) Plaintiff filed three responses to each of
Defendants' Motions [ECF Nos. 18, 19, 28]. Motley and The
Home Depot each filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Responses.
[ECF No. 22, 30].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
initial matter, pro se complaints are held to
“less stringent standards than the formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a Motion to Dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. In determining facial plausibility, the court must
accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true.
Id. The complaint must contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief” and sufficient “[f]actual
allegations . . . to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, the
complaint must “allege facts sufficient to state all
the elements of [the] claim.” Bass v. E.I. Dupont
de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th
Cir. 2003). Although “a complaint attacked by a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual
allegations, ” a pleading that merely offers
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The Court's Consideration of Plaintiff's EEOC
ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, a court generally cannot
consider evidence outside of the pleadings without converting
the motion into one for summary judgment. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 12(d). There is, however, an exception for
materials which are explicitly referenced and relied upon by
a plaintiff in her complaint. See Gibbons v. Chas H.
Sells, Inc., No. 5:09-cv-448-F, 2010 WL 4695516, at *4
(E.D. N.C. Oct. 22, 2010); Beam v. Agape Mgmt. Servs.,
Inc., No. 3:08-3445-CMC-PJG, 2009 WL 2476629, at *6
(D.S.C. Aug 11, 2009) (holding that an EEOC Charge of
Discrimination can be considered in ruling on a
defendant's 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss). In her
Complaint, Plaintiff explicitly refers to both charges that
she filed with the EEOC, and attached the relevant right to
sue notices. (See Notices of Right to Sue, February
18, 2016 [ECF No. 2- 1].) In response to this Court's
Order, Plaintiff filed the actual charges. (See
generally Resp. to Order [ECF No. 36].) Therefore, it is
appropriate to consider the contents of Plaintiff's
charges before the EEOC given that they form the basis for
B.Individual Liability of Motley ...