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Mona Norris v. Securitas Security Services Usa

July 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wigenton, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant, CSX Intermodal Terminals, Inc.‟s ("CSXIT"), Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) ("Motion"). This Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. The Motion is decided without oral argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons stated below, this Court grants Defendant‟s Motion.


Plaintiff, Mona Norris ("Norris"), was employed as a security guard for Defendant Securitas Security Services ("Securitas") at the time the events leading up to this action occurred. (Second Am. Compl. ("SAC") ¶ 10.) Norris alleges that in April of 2010, a CSXIT employee named Billy committed acts of sexual harassment and racial discrimination against her. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.) According to Plaintiff, Billy told her that "she "needs a man with a good job‟" and if she went out with him "she would not need Section 8 housing." (Id. ¶ 17(a)-(b).) Billy also allegedly told Plaintiff that "he likes women with big butts like Plaintiff‟s," and he also "[d]egrad[ed]" her "in public by stating that when he goes to the islands he has "black women with big butts sit on his lap.‟" (Id. ¶ 17(c), (h).) Norris also claims that Billy touched her "in a possessive and inappropriate way," asked her out "on a regular basis and" told her that "she treats him like "stink meat.‟" (Id. ¶ 17(d), (j).) Furthermore, Plaintiff maintains that Billy "urinat[ed] on the bathroom toilet seat" forcing her to clean off the urine, told her that "she is a "good maid‟" and made "references that "black nannies are all over the place cleaning.‟" (Id. ¶ 17(e), (f).) Additionally, Billy allegedly insinuated that Norris "is the first African American to be employed at her job for the longest out of the other African American employees" and threatened that "if she told on him she would be "out of her job so fast it would make her head spin.‟" (Id. ¶ 17(g), (i).)

Plaintiff alleges that she threatened to report Billy to his superior; however, Billy told her that no one would believe her because she ""was just a security guard.‟" (Id. ¶ 20.) Norris also claims that she did not report the incident "to her supervisors because she was embarrassed, and afraid that she would lose her job." (Id. ¶ 21.)

Nonetheless, Plaintiff alleges that on April 26, 2010, "a clerk and Chris from U.S. Security‟s office[, a neighboring security guard company,] wrote a letter to Bruce Sheeley alleging that [] [Norris] was harassing U.S. Security‟s guards, and made other various negative allegations pertaining to [] [her] work performance." (Id. ¶¶ 18-23.) As a result of the letter, Plaintiff was terminated from her employment with Securitas. (Id. ¶ 25; Def.‟s Br. 3.) Norris maintains that Billy co-authored the letter in retaliation for her "refusal of [his] [] inappropriate sexual advances" and her threat to report him to his superiors. (Id. SAC ¶ 24.)

Subsequently, Norris initiated this suit alleging sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and hostile work environment under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J. Stat. Ann. 10:5-1 et seq., ("LAD") (Counts I, II, III), intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress (Counts IV, V), aiding and abetting in violation of LAD (Count VI), hostile and abusive work environment based on race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count VII), hostile and abusive work environment based on race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) (Count VIII),*fn2 and hostile and abusive work environment based on race in violation of LAD (Count IX).*fn3


The adequacy of pleadings is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), which requires that a complaint allege "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." This Rule "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that Rule 8 "requires a "showing,‟ rather than a blanket assertion, of an entitlement to relief.").

In considering a Motion to Dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court must ""accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief."‟ Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holding Ltd.,292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). As the Supreme Court has explained:

To survive a 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." 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant‟s liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of "entitlement to relief.‟" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556--570) (internal citations omitted). Determining whether the allegations in a complaint are "plausible" is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950. If the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct," the complaint should be dismissed for failing to ""show[] that the pleader is entitled to relief‟" as required by Rule 8(a)(2). Id.


1.Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment, and Wrongful Termination Claims under the LAD

Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and wrongful termination under the LAD because there is no employer/employee relationship between CSXIT and Plaintiff. (Def.‟s Br. 8.) This Court agrees. "[T]he LAD was intended to prohibit discrimination in the context of an employer/employee relationship." Pukowsky v. Caruso, 312 N.J. Super. 171, 184 (App. Div. 1998). "Correspondingly, the lack of an employment relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant will preclude liability." Thomas v. Cnty. of Camden, 386 N.J. Super. 582, 594 (App. Div. 2006). Here, Plaintiff specifically alleges that she was an employee of Securitas. (SAC ¶ 10.) Plaintiff does not allege that she was an employee of CSXIT.

Additionally, Plaintiff has not alleged any facts that would suggest that she had an employment relationship with Defendant. In determining whether a plaintiff is an employee for ...

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