United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
M. Brinkema United States District Judge
the Court is defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff
Celia Coleman ("plaintiff' or "Coleman")
has sued her former employer, the Pentagon Federal Credit
Union ("defendant" or "PenFed"), alleging
sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, and
retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et sea.; a hostile work environment,
retaliation, and discriminatory discharge under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29
U.S.C. § 621 et seq.; as well as raising a common law
wrongful discharge claim. Plaintiff has also named four
individual PenFed employees as defendants: Muna Hall
("Hall"), Shelia Boykin ("Boykin"),
Veronica Dewald ("Dewald"), and Marilynn Wells
who has been represented by counsel throughout these
proceedings, has filed a total of four complaints in this
case. On January 4, 2017, plaintiff filed her original
complaint [Dkt. 1], which was closely followed by an amended
complaint [Dkt. 4] on January 13, 2017. On February 9, 2017,
defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss. The next day,
February 10, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint [Dkt.
18], which corrected the numbering of the counts alleged.
Finally, on February 21, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion to
amend her complaint along with her opposition to the Motion
to Dismiss. Finding that the proposed revisions did not
materially change the complaint, the Court granted the motion
to amend on March 7, 2017. Accordingly, plaintiff filed her
fourth complaint [Dkt. 26] on March 10, 2017, which is the
operative complaint for purposes of this Motion to Dismiss.
In this fourth iteration of the complaint, plaintiff failed
to correct glaring legal errors despite having amended it not
once but twice since the Motion to Dismiss identifying those
errors was filed. Accordingly, for the reasons stated in open
court and further detailed in this Memorandum Opinion,
defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted.
is a 55 year old woman who worked at PenFed for 31 years,
which entitled her to a pension. Second Am. Compl.
("Compl."), [Dkt. 26] ¶¶
The complaint does not contain any allegations detailing her
job title or duties, and does not make it clear whether she
is currently drawing a pension; however, plaintiffs first
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
charge states that she was a "Mailroom Specialist"
and her second EEOC charge states she was a "Card Fraud
Specialist." [Dkt. 19-2] at 1; [Dkt. 19-3] at 1.
alleges that sometime in 2009, Hall, whom plaintiff was
"assigned to work with, " "physically
assaulted plaintiff' on PenFed's premises by touching
her, rubbing her shoulders, and hitting her hard enough to
cause bruising. Compl. ¶¶ 25-27. The complaint
alleges that Coleman reported the incident to her
supervisors, who separated Coleman and Hall by transferring
Coleman to the credit card fraud department. Id. at
¶ 29. According to plaintiffs EEOC charges, "the
harassment continued to occur on a consistent basis"
after her transfer, despite repeated reports to supervisors.
[Dkt. 19-2] at 1; [Dkt. 19-3] at 1.
complaint alleges that between 2009 and 2016, "numerous
inappropriate and discriminatory comments were made by
Defendants regarding [Coleman's] age;" however, the
only specific incident she describes occurred on an
unspecified date, when Debbie Ames Naylor
("Naylor"), whom plaintiff refers to as a
supervisor, "referred to [Coleman's] hair as gray
and stated that she was too old to work at" PenFed.
Compl. ¶ 55.
2016, Coleman and Hall were once again assigned to work
together. According to plaintiff, "[t]his was a sinister
tactic implored [s]c] by the management at [PenFed] to target
and force [plaintiff] out of her job into a forced retirement
that had substantial [sic] less cash value than had she been
permitted to continue to work another 15 years until age 70,
which was mandatory retirement." Compl. ¶ 30.
Specifically, plaintiff claims that she told Boykin (who
appears to be a supervisor or human resources officer)
"that she was being discriminated against and targeted
by [Hall] and could not be subjected to any offensive
touching, physical or mental abuse from [Hall] or become
confronted by [Hall]." Id. ¶ 33. According
to plaintiff, she specifically told human resources that this
activity was motivated by her age and sex. Id. at
¶ 47. Boykin allegedly verbally reprimanded Coleman at
the July meeting. Id. at ¶ 16.
complaint goes on to allege that after that report,
"[i]nstead of accommodating [Coleman] by investigating
the allegations, " the defendants "decided to
institute a fraudulent and retaliatory plan of action and
hostile work environment in an attempt to try and force
[Coleman], a 31-year, dedicated, loyal employee out of the
credit union." Id. at ¶ 36. This plan was
allegedly executed by "falsely accusing [Coleman] of
improper conduct, and falsely creating a fraudulent reprimand
to force and pressure [Coleman] to sign it."
Id. at ¶ 37. Coleman claims that on September
9, 2016, she "was escorted into a room with [Boykin,
Dewald,  and Wells], who "mobbed her" and
used threatening and coercive language in an attempt to make
[Coleman] sign a written reprimand without affording
[Coleman] the opportunity to have counsel review the
document." Id. at ¶¶ 17, 39.
According to plaintiff, forcing her to sign the reprimand was
retaliation against her for complaining about Hall meant to
"forcibly drive her out of the company" in an
"attempt to disguise the termination as a
'voluntary acceptance of retirement, ' when in
reality, it was a cold and calculating termination."
Id. at ¶ 40. Coleman refused to sign the
reprimand, and "quietly walked out of the meeting."
Id. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to leave and
was prevented from accessing her computer and her office.
filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC") on October 5, 2016, alleging
age discrimination and a second charge on October 27, 2016,
alleging sex discrimination, age discrimination, and
is seeking $5, 000, 000 in damages, which includes back pay,
front pay, and punitive damages, along with reinstatement,
removal of the written reprimand, and attorney fees and
costs. Id. at 13.
Standard of Review
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint
should be dismissed if it fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. "To survive a motion to dismiss,
a complaint must set forth sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iabal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Com, v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). The Court must
"assume that the facts alleged in the complaint are true
and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor,
" Burbach Broad. Co. of Del, v. Elkins Radio
Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 406 (4th Cir. 2002), but only to
the extent that those allegations pertain to facts rather
than to legal conclusions. Iqbal 555 U.S. at 678.
Crucially, statements that amount to legal conclusions
without alleging any facts will not survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss. Id.
employees (including supervisors) are not appropriate
defendants under federal discrimination laws, including Title
VII and the ADEA. Lissau v. So. Food Serv.. Inc.,
159 F.3d 177, 180-81 (4th Cir. 1998). Accordingly, Counts 1