United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
DEVONETTE A. THOMAS Plaintiff,
NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORP., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Norfolk Southern
Corporation's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to
dismiss the lawsuit Devonette A. Thomas ("Plaintiff) has
filed. Having reviewed the Parties' filings in this case,
the Court finds this matter is ripe for judicial
determination. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
September 27, 2017, Plaintiff, through counsel, filed a
Complaint against Defendant. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff worked for
Defendant from 2004 to 2011 as an Assistant Manager in the
Intermodal Traffic Delivery Division. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant paid her less in salary than Defendant paid her
white, male colleagues, including Lou Latham and Mark
Knudson. Both Latham and Knudson also worked as Assistant
Managers of Traffic Delivery. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant paid Latham and Knudson 33% and 19.5%,
respectively, more than it paid Thomas, despite employing all
three in the same capacity. Thomas challenges this conduct as
discriminatory, and asserts that Defendant's actions
violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
December 1, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion to
Dismiss, requesting that this Court dismiss Plaintiffs
Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. ECF No. 6. Plaintiff did not file a response to
Defendant's Motion. ECF No. 10.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of actions that fail to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. A court will only grant a motion to dismiss if
"it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff would be
entitled to no relief under any state of facts which could be
proved in support of his claim." Johnson v.
Mueller, 415 F.2d 354, 355 (4th Cir. 1969). Although a
complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations,
"[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that
all the allegations in the complaint are true." Bell
Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). If the
factual allegations alleged by the plaintiff do not nudge the
plaintiffs claims "across the line from conceivable to
plausible, the plaintiffs complaint must be dismissed."
Id. at 570.
purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts may only rely upon
the complaint's allegations and those documents attached
as exhibits or incorporated by reference. See Simons v.
Montgomery Cty. Police Officers, 762 F.2d 30, 31 (4th
Cir. 1985). Courts will favorably construe the allegations of
the complainant and assume that the facts alleged in the
complaint are true. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93-94 (2007); Mylan Laboratories, Inc. v. Matkari,
1 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993).
alleges in Count I of her Complaint that Defendant
discriminated against her based on her race and gender
because Defendant "paid Thomas less than her white male
counterparts, who performed the same job" from 2008 to
2011. Norfolk Southern contends that the Court should grant
the Motion to Dismiss because Plaintiff filed her employment
discrimination claim after the statutory time limit for this
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees must
file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC") within 180 days before bringing
a civil suit against their employer. 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(e)(1) (2009). This limit is extended to 300 days in
states, including Virginia, that have a deferral agency.
Id. If the employee does not file such a charge with
the EEOC within this 300 day time limit, they are
"forever barred from Title VII relief." Edwards
v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, 760 F.Supp.2d 607, 618 (E.D. Va.
2011) (citing Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v.
Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 108 (2002)). The Fourth Circuit
has upheld strict adherence to time limits on discrimination
claims because to do otherwise would violate Congress'
clear intent. Hamilton v. 1st Source Bank, 928 F.2d
86, 87-88 (4th Cir. 1990).
argues that the Civil Rights Act requires employees to
exhaust the administrative remedies available by filing
timely charges of discrimination with the EEOC prior to
bringing a civil suit in court. Defendant further argues
that, as the Supreme Court has recognized, time limits placed
on discrimination claims begin tolling at the time the
alleged discriminatory conduct happened, not when the
litigant later discovers the alleged discrimination.
contends that Plaintiffs claim fails because Plaintiff did
not file a discrimination charge with the EEOC relating to
this unequal pay until June 16, 2014, almost three years
after the alleged discriminatory conduct ceased. Defendant
further contends that Plaintiff fails to state claim upon
which relief can be granted because Plaintiffs Complaint is
premised on an alleged violation of Title VII that is
Court finds that Plaintiffs claim is time-barred. Count I of
Plaintiffs Complaint alleges that Plaintiff suffered harm
based on unequal pay between 2008 and 2011. Under Title VII,
Plaintiff must file a charge with the EEOC regarding that
discriminatory conduct, within 300 days after the conduct in
question occurred, in order to assert Title VII relief.
Plaintiff did not file a charge with the EEOC until June 16,
2014. In that charge, the only reference to unequal pay
reads, "I believe I was . . . paid lesser wages than my
white male counterparts because of my race (black) and sex
(female)." ECF No. 7. The charge further states that it
relates to discrimination that occurred between November 2013
and June 2014, however, the conduct ...