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Caviness v. Aramark Correctional Services, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 15, 2015

CARL CAVINESS, Plaintiff,
v.
ARAMARK CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, LLC, and JOHN DOE, Defendants.

LAW OFFICE OF GERALD F. MIKSIS, Gerald F. Miksis, Esq., Atlantic City, New Jersey, Counsel for Plaintiff.

MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP, James P. Walsh, Jr., Esq., Nitin Sharma, Esq., Princeton, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendant.

OPINION

JOSEPH E. IRENAS, Senior District Judge.

In this diversity action, Plaintiff Carl Caviness alleges race and age discrimination by his employer Aramark Correctional Services (Aramark) in violation of New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"). Aramark presently moves to dismiss Caviness's Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the reasons stated herein, Aramark's motion will be GRANTED.

I.

Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in Atlantic County Superior Court on September 25, 2014 and Defendant then removed to this Court. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following facts:

Caviness, an African American man over the age of forty, worked as a supervisor in the food service division at Aramark's Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2). From January 2013 to July 2013, Aramark reduced Caviness's work hours from forty hours per week to twenty-eight hours per week. (Id. at ¶ 4). Caviness claims his reduced hours were "the result of direct discrimination against plaintiff as a result of a status of an African American over the age of 40." (Id. at ¶ 5).

Aramark moved to dismiss Plaintiff's initial Complaint on November 20, 2014 for failure to state a claim. (Docket No. 3) Caviness subsequently amended his Complaint by adding only a reference to N.J.S.A. 10:5-12, the NJLAD provision regarding discriminatory employment practices, as the particular statute Defendant violated.[1] (Am. Compl. ¶ 5). The relevant paragraph now states that the reduction of Caviness's hours was "the result of direct discrimination against plaintiff as a result of a status of an African American over the age of 40, violation of N.J.S.A. 10:5-2 [sic]." (Id.) Caviness added no new facts to support his claim.

Aramark filed the instant motion to dismiss Caviness's Amended Complaint on December 10, 2014.

II.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege facts that make a right to relief more than speculative. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A court must accept all allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008), but a court is not required to accept sweeping legal conclusions cast as factual allegations. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The pleadings must state sufficient facts to show that the legal allegations are not simply possible, but plausible. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234. "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

III.

As Caviness makes clear in his Amended Complaint, he brings this action pursuant to the NJLAD, particularly N.J.S.A. 10:5-12. The NJLAD makes it unlawful for an employer "because of the race... [or] age... of any individual... to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment." N.J.S.A. 10:5-12.

When assessing NJLAD employment discrimination claims, New Jersey courts have adopted the burden-shifting framework articulated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Viscik v. Fowler Equip. Co., 173 N.J. 1, 13-14 (2002). Under that framework, in order to prove a prima facie of employment discrimination, a plaintiff must show (1) he belongs to a protected class, (2) he was qualified for the position at issue, (3) he was subject to an adverse employment action, and (4) under circumstances that raise an inference of discriminatory action, the employer continued to ...


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