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Freeman v. Harris

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 21, 2017

SARAH FREEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVEN HARRIS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          HON. BRIAN R. MARTINOTTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before this Court Defendants Steven Harris (“Harris”), Scott Janora (“Janora”), and State of New Jersey Department of the Treasury's (individually, the “Treasury”; collectively with Harris and Janora, “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 17) pro se Plaintiff Sarah Freeman's (“Plaintiff”) Complaint (ECF No. 1), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposes the Motion. (ECF No. 19.) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b), the Court did not hear oral argument. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' Complaint (ECF No. 1) is DISMISSED.

         I. Background

         For the purposes of this Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts the factual allegations in the Amended Complaint as true. Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008). Plaintiff, who is an employee of the Treasury, asserts a claim pursuant to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), alleging she was discriminated against and denied promotions because of her race. (ECF No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff summarizes the allegedly discriminatory conduct as follows:

I passed the Civil Service Exam Ranking #2 and everyone on the list received the promotion except for me. He[1] promoted someone (Judy Felchak) provisional while there was a[n] existing list. When I met with Mr. Harris to ask why I'm not being considered he said he's not interested in promoting me.

(Id. at 7.)

         No additional details are specifically alleged, but Plaintiff supported her Complaint with documents she submitted to the EEOC, including a May 18, 2015 letter she sent to Karen McDonough, an EEOC enforcement manager, as well as a personnel list of employees eligible for promotion. (ECF No. 3 at 1-2.) Plaintiff was ranked second on the list of eligible employees. (Id. at 2.) The list was issued on December 27, 2007, and promulgated on January 3, 2008. (Id.) Plaintiff also supported her Complaint with letters from the Treasury dated March 14, 2008, and November 28, 2011, informing her she did not receive a promotion and that another eligible employee had. (Id. at 3-4.) On January 3, 2015, Plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC (the “EEOC Charge”) regarding the allegedly discriminatory failure to promote. (ECF No. 1 at 7.) On January 29, 2016, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a Notice of Right to Sue letter. (Id.)

         On January 26, 2016, the EEOC sent Plaintiff a letter explaining she filed her EEOC complaint “outside the 300-day time limit for the EEOC's jurisdiction.” (ECF No. 2 at 1.) Further, the EEOC explained Plaintiff's eligibility for promotion, which she achieved in 2007, had expired by the time she applied for the second promotion 2011. (Id.) On April 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed the Complaint. (ECF No. 1.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court is “required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences in the facts alleged in the light most favorable to the [plaintiff].” Phillips, 515 F.3d at 228. “[A] complaint attacked by a . . . motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). However, the Plaintiff's “obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). A court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan, 478 U.S. at 286. Instead, assuming the factual allegations in the complaint are true, those “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for misconduct alleged.” Id. This “plausibility standard” requires the complaint allege “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, ” but it “is not akin to a ‘probability requirement.'” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Detailed factual allegations” are not required, but “more than ‘an unadorned, the defendant-harmed-me accusation” must be pled; it must include “factual enhancements” and not just conclusory statements or a recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

         “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         III. ...


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