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Mackin v. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 12, 2017




         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this employment discrimination case is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) and Defendant Gregory Matthews (collectively, “Defendants”). (ECF No. 5). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted, in part, and denied, in part.

         I. Background [1]

         A. Factual History

         Plaintiff was an Associated Financial Consultant (“AFC”) at Schwab's branch in Gaithersburg, Maryland. She alleges that the Financial Consultants (“FCs”) at her branch were reluctant to work with her and made a number of racially insensitive comments.[2] For example, one FC allegedly told a black employee who was going to New York for a holiday to “have fun [and] don't go to jail[.]” (ECF No. 1, at 10). Another FC allegedly referred to President Obama as “that boy” because of his race. (Id.). She further alleges that she was required to do administrative tasks not required of a white AFC at Schwab's Bethesda branch.

         Plaintiff also alleges that she was retaliated against for filing an EEOC complaint in 2012. She alleges that she received a written warning and lost a sales bonus due to a complaint from a client even though two FCs - one of whom was a white male and one of whom was an Asian male - had not received the same treatment when they received complaints from the same client. She also alleges that the branch manager intentionally excluded her from a text notifying employees that the branch was closed due to weather during Hurricane Sandy. (ECF No. 1, at 12-13).

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC in May 2013. She received a right to sue notice on September 9, 2016.[3] Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging employment discrimination and hostile work environment on account of race, color, and gender and retaliation all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., on December 7, 2016. Defendants moved to dismiss. (ECF No. 5).

         II. Standard of Review

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a)(2), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted. Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009).

         In analyzing a motion to dismiss, courts “focus their inquiry on the sufficiency of the facts relied upon by the plaintiffs in the complaint.” Zak v. Chelsea Therapeutics Intern., Ltd., 780 F.3d 597, 606 (4th Cir. 2015). Courts “cannot go beyond these documents on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 438 (4th Cir. 2011). Therefore, Defendants' attachments to the motion to dismiss cannot be considered at this stage.

         Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Liberal construction means that the court will read the pleadings to state a valid claim to the extent that it is possible to do so from the facts available; it does not mean that the court should rewrite the complaint to include claims never presented. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1132 (10thCir. 1999). That is, even when pro se litigants are involved, the court cannot ignore a clear failure to allege facts that support a viable claim. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990); Forquer v. Schlee, No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012) (“[E]ven a pro se complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege a plausible claim for relief.” (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).

         III. Analysis

         A. ...

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