United States District Court, D. New Jersey
N. QURAISHI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant Mark Adams'
("Adams") Motion for Relief from Order Granting
Plaintiffs Ability to Proceed Anonymously (the
"Motion"). (ECF No. 63.) Defendants Sage BRE NYNJ
LLC ("Sage Manager"), Sage BRE NYNJ Manager B LLC
("Sage Manager B"), and BRE NE Hospitality Property
Owner LLC ("BRE") incorporate by reference the
Motion for Relief from the Order Granting Plaintiff's
Motion to Proceed Anonymously, and separately move to bar
Adams from his requested alternative relief of proceeding
anonymously in this suit. (Mot. for Partial Joinder, ECF No.
64.) Plaintiff Jane Doe ("Plaintiff), with permission
from the Court, requested that the Court rely on her initial
papers, and Adams replied. (Pl.'s Correspondence, ECF No.
65; Adams' Reply Br., ECF No. 66.)
reasons set forth below, Adams' Motion is denied. (ECF
No. 63.) Sage Manager, Sage Manager B, and BRE's Partial
Motion for Joinder is denied in part and granted in part.
(ECF No. 64.)
November 27, 2018, anonymously named Plaintiff, Jane Doe,
filed her initial Complaint against Trishul, Adams, and
Marriott International, Inc., alleging discrimination and
retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
and New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination N.J. Stat.
Ann. §§ 10:5-12(a), (d), (e). (Compl. ¶¶
57-80, ECF No. 1.) On March 22, 2019 Plaintiff amended her
Complaint to add as defendants Sage Manager, Sage Manager B,
and BRE, and to add claims of assault and battery against
Adams. (See generally, Am. Compl., ECF No. 27.) In
her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff states that in or around
June 2015, she was hired by Trishul Consultancy LLC
("Trishul"), a staffing agency. (Am. Compl. ¶
21, ECF No. 27.)
2015, Trishul facilitated Plaintiff's placement as a
housekeeper at the Courtyard Ewing Marriott
("Marriott") in Ewing, New Jersey. (Id.
¶¶ 10, 21.) Plaintiff's primary duty was to
clean hotel rooms and her position was at all times
supervised by Adams, the hotel's Executive Housekeeper.
(Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Plaintiff alleges that
from June to November 2016, Adams repeatedly sexually
assaulted, harassed, and threatened Plaintiff in and around
the workplace. (Id. ¶¶ 21-57.)
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in June 2016, Adams told
Plaintiff to "pull up [her] shirt[, ]" and asked
Plaintiff to have a "threesome" with him.
(Id. ¶¶ 25, 38.) Plaintiff further claims
that the harassment escalated into assault in October 2016,
and that "[Adams] forced Plaintiff to give him oral sex
by physically overpowering her [and] opening her mouth to
insert his penis." (Id. ¶ 41.) She claims
that Adams "threatened her about the sexual incident,
and if she told anyone about it no one would believe her and
that she would be 'done.'" (Id. ¶
43.) Plaintiff alleges that in November 2016, "[Adams]
followed Plaintiff into one of the hotel rooms she was
cleaning .... and proceeded to fondle Plaintiff's
buttocks and forcibly kiss her." (Id. ¶
50.) She states that "[s]hortly thereafter, [Adams]
again threatened Plaintiff that if she reported his conduct
or said 'no' to his advances she would lose her
job." (Id. ¶ 51.) Plaintiff reported this
behavior to Marriott's management, and claims that she
was later constructively discharged from her job when her
hours were decreased significantly. (Id.
filing her initial Complaint, Plaintiff moved to proceed
under pseudonym. (Mot. to Proceed Anonymously, ECF Nos. 2-3.)
Trishul opposed, and Plaintiff replied. (Trishul's
Opp'n Br., ECF No. 8; Pl.'s Reply Br., ECF No. 10.)
The Court granted Plaintiffs Motion to Proceed Anonymously.
(Order, ECF No. 14.) Following a conference with the Court,
during which some of the defendants expressed a concern that
they had not been afforded the opportunity to oppose
Plaintiff's initial Motion to Proceed Anonymously, Adams
filed the instant Motion. (Mot., ECF No. 63.) Defendants Sage
Manager, Sage Manager B, and BRE moved to adopt and
incorporate by reference Adams' Motion, with the
exception of the defendants' request that any party,
including Adams, be barred from proceeding anonymously. (Mot.
for Partial Joinder, ECF No. 64.) Plaintiff submitted
correspondence requesting that the Court rely on her initial
response papers (Pl.'s Opp'n Br., ECF Nos. 2-3, 10),
and the Court's prior Order permitting Plaintiff to
proceed anonymously (Order, ECF No. 14), in analyzing
Adams' Motion (Mot., ECF No. 63). (Pl.'s
Correspondence, ECF No. 65.) Adams replied. (Adams' Reply
Br., ECF No. 66.)
now seeks relief from the Order granting Plaintiff the
ability to proceed anonymously. (See generally Mot.,
ECF No. 63.) Adams first asserts that the Court should not
grant Plaintiff anonymity because Plaintiff does not meet the
stringent standards required for a party to proceed through a
suit anonymously. (Id. at 3.) Specifically, Adams
argues that potential embarrassment or economic harm to the
plaintiff is not enough to qualify for anonymity.
(Id. (citing Doe v. Megless, 654 F.3d 404,
408 (3d Cir. 2011)).) "Rather, the plaintiff must
demonstrate 'both (1) a fear of severe harm and (2) that
the fear of harm is reasonable.'" (Id.
(citing Megless, 654 F.3d at 408).) Adams also
argues that Plaintiff's allegations lack specificity.
(Id. at 5, ECF No. 63.) Adams contends that the
public has an established interest in an open litigation
process. (Id. at 3 (citing Megless, 654
F.3d at 408-409, 411).) As a form of alternative relief,
Adams requests that if the Court permits Plaintiff to proceed
anonymously, he also be permitted to proceed anonymously.
(Id. at 9.)
Sage Manager, Sage Manager B, and BRE seek to join in
Adams' Motion, except that they "object to any party
being allowed to proceed anonymously." (Mot. for Joinder
2, ECF No. 64.) They argue that "[a]llowing any of the
key parties to proceed anonymously will substantially burden
Defendants and interfere with their ability to conduct
discovery and defend this case. (Id.)
responds with correspondence requesting that the Court rely
on her initial papers and the Court's prior Order in
deciding this matter, also stating, "Adams subjected
Plaintiff to a severe sexual assault and exposing her
identity creates risk of extreme distress to Plaintiff."
(ECF Nos. 10, 14, 65.) In her initial Motion to Proceed
Anonymously, Plaintiff argues that "a party may proceed
by way of pseudonym, particularly where disclosure of the
litigant's identity creates a risk of 'extreme
distress or danger.'" (Pl.'s Moving Br. ¶
4, ECF No. 3.) She states that her identity has remained
confidential to this point, and that the only people who are
aware of her identity are parties to this litigation.
(Id. ¶ 4.1.) Plaintiff asserts that to
publicize her claims to her colleagues and friends would
serve to revictimize her. (Id. ¶ 4.2.)
Plaintiff states that there is a "strong public interest
in maintaining the confidentiality of Plaintiff's
identity," which opposes the "atypically weak
public interest in revealing Plaintiff's name and
identity because this matter is specific to Plaintiff.
(Id. ¶¶ 4.3-4, 4.8.) Plaintiff asserts
that she "would strongly consider foregoing this lawsuit
should she be unable to proceed anonymously."
(Id. ¶ 4.5.) She avers that she "has no
illegitimate ulterior motives in seeking to proceed
anonymously," and seeks to proceed under pseudonym
"solely to protect her physical, mental, and emotional
well-being." (Id. ¶ 4.6.)