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Georges v. Dominion Payroll Services, LLC

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

August 24, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Dominion Payroll Services ("Dominion") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1](ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff Angela Georges has responded to the Motion to Dismiss, and Dominion has replied. (ECF Nos. 11, 12.) The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.[2]This matter is ripe for disposition. 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 deny the Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Standard

         "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (omission in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must assert facts that rise above speculation and conceivability to those that "show" a claim that is "plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "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." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Therefore, in order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

         II. Procedural and Factual Background

         A. Summary of Allegations in the Complaint [3]

         On or about May 4, 2015, Dominion hired Georges, a 52-year-old female, as Benefits Implementation Specialist. The qualifications for the Benefits Implementation Specialist position included an associate's degree (with a bachelor's degree preferred) and three years' experience in employee benefits, or an equivalent combination of experience and education.

         Georges obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business with a focus in Marketing and Management, and she obtained her Master's Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Organizational and Human Resources Development. She previously worked as a "Quickbooks Online Small Business Consultant" and as a "Tax Services/Support Advisor" at Intuit in Fredericksburg, Virginia. (Compl. ¶ 7.) At Intuit, Georges worked with business owners, accountants, and tax professionals to identify solutions to various business and financial problems. From 2010 to 2012, Georges worked as a Claims Counselor at HILLDRUP, where she tracked and recovered undelivered items and developed procedures to improve workflow and efficiency. Prior to that, from 2000 to 2007, Georges worked at Mary Washington University as an Office Manager and Administrative Program Specialist. At Mary Washington University, Georges maintained the school's credit card program, trained and supervised office and student staff, created a purchasing training manual, and managed policies for the purchase system. Finally, from 1998 to 2000, Georges worked as a Senior Executive Administrative Assistant at Peninsula Health Care, where she analyzed life and health benefits and group account renewals, consulted with human resources, and managed administrative functions.

         As Benefits Implementation Specialist at Dominion, Georges had the following responsibilities: customer support; tracking of customer date; manage plans to ensure deliverables and launch dates are met; and, customer training for self-sufficiency after implementation. In her tenure as Benefits Implementation Specialist, Dominion never disciplined Georges, and at all times, Georges received positive feedback from the department manager, Laura Johnson.

         During the first days of her tenure at Dominion, Georges asked for an employee handbook. Lora Meade, the human resources director, informed Georges that no such handbook existed. In fact, while employed at Dominion, Georges never received a statement of Dominion's employment policies or procedures. Approximately two weeks after Georges began her tenure at Dominion, Johnson complained to her about upper-management and being overwhelmed. Georges offered to help Johnson, and in June 2015, Georges received an email from Johnson praising Georges's work.

         On or about July 13, 2015, Johnson and Meade terminated Georges without warning or notice. Johnson and Meade did not communicate to Georges any substantive performance issues, and the termination conflicted with previous statements regarding Georges's employment. At the time of termination, Johnson and Meade did not provide Georges with any records regarding her job performance, duties, or disciplinary actions. Georges alleges that, based on information and belief, Dominion filled her position with a younger, less experienced employee.

         B. Procedural History

         Georges's Complaint alleges one count: "Violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act [the 'ADEA']."[4] (Compl. 5.) Georges asserts membership in the class of people protected by the ADEA because she is over forty years old. She contends that Dominion wrongfully terminated her by intentionally discriminating against her on the basis of age. Georges claims to have suffered damages, including embarrassment, inconvenience, humiliation, ...

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