United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
CARLA C. STEVENS, Plaintiff,
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, CAPTAIN GARY BOWKER, and CAPTAIN PATRICK RIDGE, Defendants.
Jackson L. Kiser, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants Virginia Department
of Corrections (“VDOC”), Captain Gary Bowker
(“Bowker”), and Captain Patrick Ridge's
(“Ridge”) Motion to Dismiss. [ECF No. 4.] The
matter was fully briefed by the parties, and I heard oral
arguments on October 30, 2018. I have fully reviewed the
applicable facts, arguments of the parties, and relevant law;
the matter is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons
stated herein, I will grant Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss. Plaintiff will be granted fourteen (14) days to file
an Amended Complaint, if she so chooses.
STATEMENTS OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL
Carla C. Stevens, who is proceeding pro se, is employed by
VDOC as a correctional officer at Green Rock Correctional
Center in Chatham, Virginia. (Compl. ¶ I.C.) In that
position, she was supervised by Bowker and Ridge.
(Id. ¶ III.E.) On March 8, 2018, the facility
was placed into “lockdown, ” which required all
movement by correctional officers to be approved by the shift
commander. (Id.) On that day, Bowker (was was Acting
Major) and Ridge (who was the shift commander) permitted two
white employees to have inmate assistance to help them pull
laundry carts. (Id.) When Plaintiff requested the
same accommodation, she was denied. (Id.) Plaintiff
alleges that, on that day, the white staff members were
treated more favorably and afforded assistance to complete
their job tasks, while she, a black employee, was not. As a
result, Plaintiff was physically injured when she pulled the
laundry carts alone.
August 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court alleging
a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. [ECF No. 1.] On September 25, Defendants
moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [ECF No. 4.] The
parties fully briefed the matter [ECF Nos. 5, 15, 16], and I
heard oral argument on the Motion on October 30. I have
reviewed the allegations set forth by Plaintiff, the
arguments of the parties, and the relevant law. The matter is
now ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, 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.
Title VII does not impose liability on individuals
names three defendants in her discrimination action: VDOC,
Bowker, and Ridge. Both Bowker and Ridge are sued in their
individual capacities. Title VII liability applies only to
employers. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b) (2018); see also
Baird ex rel. Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462, 472 (4th Cir.
1998). Individual employees are not “employers”
for purposes of Title VII. See Baird, 192 F.3d at
472; Lissau v. So. Food. Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177,
180-81 (4th Cir. 1998). It follows, then, that neither Bowker
nor Ridge were Plaintiff's “employer” for
purposes of Title VII. For this reason, the claims against
Bowker and Ridge will be dismissed with
Plaintiff fails to state a claim for discrimination
speaking, Title VII prohibits discrimination in the
“compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of
employment, because of such individual's race . . .
.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) (2018). Title VII
suits generally take one of five forms:
A charge that an employer deliberately discriminated against
the plaintiff because of race . . . (known as a disparate
treatment claim); a charge that the employer used a facially
neutral test or other employment practice that unjustifiably
resulted in discrimination against members of a protected
group (a disparate impact claim); a charge that an employer
retaliated against an employee for filing a discrimination
claim; or a charge that the employer constructively
discharged an employee because of his or her race . . . .
Brown v. Prince George's Cnty. Health Dept.,
Civ. A. No. HAR 90-51, 1992 WL 142694, at *2 (D. Md. June 15,
1992). Alternatively, a plaintiff can assert a hostile work
environment claim, wherein she alleges that harassment on the
basis of her race was so “severe or pervasive” as
to alter the terms or conditions of her employment. See
Hartsell v. Duplex Prods., Inc., 123 F.3d 766, ...