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Idris v. Ratner Co./Creative Hairdressers

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 21, 2014

DELISE MONIQUE IDRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
RATNER COMPANY/CREATIVE HAIRDRESSERS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THEODORE D. CHUANG, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Ratner Company/Creative Hairdressers[1] ("Creative Hairdressers"). The issue before the Court is whether Plaintiff Delise Monique Idris ("Idris") has sufficiently stated claims for (1) discrimination on the basis of race and religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (2012), discrimination on the basis of age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq. (2012), and discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and age under the Montgomery County Human Rights Act, Montgomery County Code § 27-19(a)(1) (Am. Legal Publ'g Corp. 2014); (2) retaliation under Title VII; and (3) hostile work environment under Title VII. Having reviewed the pleadings and the briefs, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

On October 29, 2013, Idris filed pro se an employment discrimination suit against Creative Hairdressers, her former employer, in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. See Compl., ECF No. 2. Idris subsequently retained counsel. See ECF No. 6. On April 28, 2014, Creative Hairdressers timely removed the case to this Court. ECF No. 1.

Idris makes the following allegations in her pro se Complaint. Idris is an African American woman who was employed by Creative Hairdressers as a cosmetologist from January 2, 2007 until she resigned at an unspecified time. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8, 11-20. Idris alleges that she "performed her duties in a fully satisfactory manner throughout the tenure of her employment at Creative Hairdressers" and had "always received satisfactory performance appraisals." Id. ¶ 9.

Idris asserts that Creative Hairdressers gave her a "negative performance appraisal" and "subjected her to a hostile environment because of Plaintiff's [religion, age and race]." Id. ¶ 23 (brackets in original). Idris also alleges that she "opposed discrimination against her by complaining to her management and by filing a charge of discrimination with the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")], " and that Creative Hairdressers "took adverse action against Plaintiff in retaliation for complaining of and opposing discrimination, in violation of Title VII." Id. ¶¶ 38-39. Idris further alleges that she "[resigned] because of her religion, and in retaliation for Plaintiff having complained of discrimination to management and in retaliation for Plaintiff having filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC." Id. ¶ 11-20 (brackets in original).

On May 5, 2014, Creative Hairdressers filed its Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. ECF No. 12. On May 19, 2014, Idris, through counsel, filed her Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss in which she asked that the Court grant leave to amend the Complaint should the Court determine her pleadings to be deficient. ECF No. 16.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

In order to defeat a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must allege enough facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (emphasis added). A Title VII plaintiff is not required to plead facts that constitute a prima facie case in order to prevail on a motion to dismiss, but the complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to meet the Rule 8 standard for pleading and to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. See Swierkiewicz v, Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 510-15 (2002); Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals, 626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010). In assessing whether this standard has been met, the Court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson Cnty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005). However, legal conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice and are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Notably, "a document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal citations omitted).

II. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

A. Discrimination Claims

Title VII prohibits an employer from "discharg[ing] any individual, or otherwise... discriminat[ing] against any individual with respect to... compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race" or "religion, " among other protected categories. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Similarly, the ADEA[2] protects employees who are at least 40 years old from discrimination by making it unlawful for an employer "to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to... compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. §§ 623(a), 631(a). Finally, under the Montgomery County Human Rights Act. an employer may not, on the basis of an employee's race, religious creed, or age, among other protected categories, do any of the following:

(A) fail or refuse to hire, fail to accept the services of, discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, ...

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