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Flowers v. University of Maryland School of Medicine

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

June 6, 2014



WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

LaRondi Flowers, pro se, sued the University of Maryland School of Medicine (the "University"), Madonna Penny, and Curt Civin for employment discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII").[1] Pending is the defendants' unopposed motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.[2] ECF No. 9. No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, the defendants' motion will be granted.

I. Background[3]

During 2009-2012, Flowers was employed by the University as an Executive Administrative Assistant ("Executive Assistant") to the Associate Dean, Dr. Civin. See ECF No. 1 at 1-3. In 2010, Flowers complained to "HR" that she was being "mistreat[ed], " and that Dr. Civin had requested that she perform "personal items." See id. at 2. HR responded in writing that many of the Executive Assistants at the University "do some personal scheduling for their supervisors, " but such job duties are generally discussed during the interview for the position. See id. HR also noted that the University did not have a specific policy about personal scheduling, "as each Executive has different needs and expectations in terms of their assistants." Id. After Flowers expressed these concerns to HR, "[t]he harassment began." See id.

Flowers was hospitalized after she was attacked by a pit bull. Id. at 3. Her Director[4] emailed her while she was in the hospital to request that she "schedule items and take care of [her] responsibilities." Id. Flowers responded that she was in the Emergency Room and possibly needed surgery. See id. However, the Director "still wanted [her] to work." Id. He told her that he was "sure [she] could use the overtime pay." Id.

In 2011 and 2012, [5] Flowers filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Id. On November 28, 2012, Flowers was suspended without pay. Id. Sometime after, she was terminated, but she never received a termination notice. See id. Instead, she discovered that she had been terminated when her workers' compensation claim was denied. Id. On February 27, 2013, Flowers received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. Id. ; ECF No. 1-4 at 1-3.

On May 24, 2013, Flowers sued the defendants for employment discrimination on the basis of race and color, in violation of Title VII. ECF No. 1 at 1-2. On September 9, 2013, the defendants moved to dismiss. ECF No. 6. On September 11, 2013, a "Rule 12/56 letter" was mailed to Flowers, informing her that if she did "not file a timely written response" to the motion, "the Court may dismiss the case... without further notice." ECF No. 7. On September 25, 2013, Flowers moved-with the defendants' consent-for a 30 day extension of time to respond to the motion. ECF No. 8. On October 4, 2013, the defendants filed a "corrected" motion to dismiss. ECF No. 9. On October 7, 2013, the Court granted Flowers's requested extension. ECF No. 10. On October 9, 2013, a second Rule 12/56 letter was mailed to Flowers. ECF No. 11. On October 28, 2013, Flowers filed a motion for an extension to respond to the defendants' motion. ECF No. 13-1. The Clerk of the Court returned the filing to her, however, because it was a duplicate of the first motion for an extension. ECF No. 13. Flowers did not submit a new motion for an extension or file an opposition to the defendants' motions.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), an action may be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint, but does not "resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006).

The Court bears in mind that Rule 8(a)(2) requires only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Migdal v. Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l, Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26 (4th Cir. 2001). Although Rule 8's notice-pleading requirements are "not onerous, " the plaintiff must allege facts that support each element of the claim advanced. Bass v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 764-65 (4th Cir. 2003). These facts must be sufficient to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

This requires that the plaintiff do more than "plead[] facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability;'" the facts pled must "allow[] 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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). The complaint must not only allege but also "show" that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. at 679 (internal quotation marks omitted). "Whe[n] 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 shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).

B. Flowers's Claims

Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because of race, color, religion, sex, or national ...

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