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Nash v. Braswell Foods

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

February 28, 2017

RICARDO NASH, Plaintiff,
v.
BRASWELL FOODS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          M. HANNAH LAUCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Braswell Foods' ("Braswell") Motion to Dismiss for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction" pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted" pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the "Motion to Dismiss"). (ECF No. 4.) Braswell provided Plaintiff Ricardo Nash, who proceeds pro se, with appropriate notice pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). (Mot. Dismiss 1 n.1, ECF No. 4.)[1] Nash did not respond, and the time to do so has expired. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss.

         L Factual and Procedural Background

         A. Allegations in Nash's Complaint and in His EEOC Charge[2]

         Nash's short Complaint consists of only two paragraphs. (ECF No. 1.) The Court quotes Nash's Complaint in full:

COMPLAINT
1. Based on information from the EEOC, I'm filing this complaint in Federal Court.
2. August 2015, I was injured on the job and the HR department did an investigation of the injury. In the conference was Wells Caviness Head HR for Braswell, Willie Jervis General Manager and myself Ricardo Nash. During the interview they asked for accounts of how injury occurred, after my explanation Mr. Caviness proceeded to basically call me a liar also stating that there are many people in jail for making false claims. Also asking if I had heard of anyone else getting injured in that manner. With a doctor's note to be out for an extended period I notice there was an ad posting my position in the county's classifieds. After long consider, on August 27, 2015 I chose to resign my position on the grounds of a hostile work environment. Within a couple of hours after receiving my resignation Mr. Caviness called left an apology on my phone.
I'm asking for a year's wages plus bonuses, pain and suffering and mental anguish on the grounds of constructive discharge which lead to a hostile work environment. Even now in the present I'm still dealing with these injuries and fighting with the company's insurance agent.

         Nash's EEOC Charge alleged discrimination based on retaliation and disability. Nash articulated the underlying particulars of his EEOC Charge, in full, as follows:

I. I was hired by [Braswell Foods] on or about October 20, 2008, as a Truck Driver. This was my last job classification. After I injured myself on the job, I was taken out of work due to the injury. I was placed under investigation because it was suspected that I filed a false workman's compensation claim. The Human Resources Representative that investigated my claim stated that "people are in jail for filing false claims". I felt uncomfortable and quit my job as a result of what I believed to be harassment and retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim.
II. I believe that I was harassed, constructively discharged and retaliated against because I filed a workman's compensation claim in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.

         B. Procedural History

         After Nash filed his Complaint, Braswell filed its Motion to Dismiss. Braswell seeks dismissal because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action or, in the alternative, because Nash's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Mot. Dismiss 1-2, ECF No. 4.) Nash never responded to Braswell's Motion to Dismiss.

         II. Legal Standard Applicable to the Entirety of Nash's Pro Se Action

         In order to approach Nash's allegations in the proper legal fashion, the Court must apply at least three rules of construction. First, the Court must be bound by the allegations in Nash's EEOC Charge. Second, the Court must construe Nash's pro se filings liberally. Finally, as part of any motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must apply the familiar precept that it assumes the well-pleaded factual allegations in Nash's Complaint to be true and views them in the light most favorable to Nash.[3] See Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). The Court explains the first two rules of construction in more detail below.

         A. The EEOC Charge Controls the Allegations this Court May Consider

         In evaluating Nash's claims at bar, the Court is bound by the scope of the allegations in Nash's EEOC Charge. See, e.g., Balas v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401, 407 (4th Cir. 2013) ("In any subsequent lawsuit alleging unlawful employment practices under Title VII [or the ADA], a federal court may only consider those allegations included in the EEOC charge."). If a plaintiffs Title VII or ADA claims "exceed the scope of the EEOC charge and any charges that would naturally have arisen from an investigation thereof, they are procedurally barred." Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Given that a plaintiff must exhaust administrative remedies, staying within the scope of the EEOC charge assures that a federal court has jurisdiction over a claim. Id.

         The Court therefore may only consider the allegations Nash made in his EEOC Charge to determine the viability of his discrimination claim. In the EEOC Charge, Nash alleges that he "felt uncomfortable and quit [his] job as a result of what [he] believed to be harassment and retaliation forfiling a workers['] compensation claim" (EEOC Charge, ECF No. 5-1 (emphasis added).)

         B. The Court Must Construe Nash's Pro Se ...


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