United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brittney Felder, pro se, has sued MGM National
Harbor, LLC (“National Harbor”) and fifty unnamed
defendants in connection with her employment at National
Harbor and the SJP Boutique, a high-end retailer located
within the National Harbor complex. Felder brings claims for
race, sex, and color discrimination under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et
seq (“Title VII”), and the Civil Rights Act
of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. She also brings various
claims for relief under state law and at common law.
Harbor has moved to dismiss. (ECF No. 6). Felder has moved to
remand (ECF No. 11). For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and GRANTS
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, with leave for Felder to
file an Amended Complaint.
August 2017, Felder began working at National Harbor as both
Assistant Manager of Retail and the Store Manager of SJP
Boutique. ECF No. 1, Ex. A (“Complaint”) at 5.
Felder was recruited to work at National Harbor by SJP
Liaison Whitney Wilburn and National Harbor Director of
Retail Lisa Jones. Id. During the recruiting
process, Felder says that Jones told her “people work
here for a long time, ” suggesting Felder would have
opportunities for career advancement at National Harbor.
Id. Felder says that at no point during the hiring
process did any National Harbor employee mention that her
employment was subject to a ninety-day probationary period.
Id. at 12. Once Felder began working at National
Harbor, Jones became her supervisor. Id. at 6.
initially received positive feedback from Jones's
supervisor Patrick Fisher and Wilburn while Jones was on a
leave of absence. Id. Felder also began planning an
event at the store featuring SJP's celebrity founder,
Sarah Jessica Parker, and other high-stakes guests set to
take place on September 20, 2017. Id. at 7.
Jones returned from her leave of absence, she and Wilburn
allegedly began criticizing Felder constantly. Id.
During a meeting among Jones, Wilburn, and several other
employees on September 11, 2017, Felder says that Wilburn
called her a “dictator.” Id. at 8. Later
that day, Felder learned from another employee that Jones
characterized the interaction as a mutual argument between
Felder and Wilburn. Id. at 8-9.
September 14, 2017, Felder discovered someone had modified
several window and store displays that she had set up at the
SJP Boutique. Id. at 8. Felder subsequently
complained to Fisher about the treatment she had been
receiving from Jones and Wilburn. Id. at 9. At a
meeting later that same day, Felder says that Jones ignored
her and admitted that she was angry Felder had reported Jones
to Fisher. Id. Felder also says that Jones described
her as combative and insolent. Id. at 18. Felder
also says that Jones referred to her as “the queen,
” which Felder alleges is a derogatory term used
between African-Americans to refer to different skin colors.
Id. at 10 n.3. Subsequently, Felder says that
Wilburn and Jones delegated some of her responsibilities to
other less qualified Assistant Managers, one of whom was
“a White/Caucasian female, ” the other a
“dark skin African American male, ” who were also
subject to disciplinary action. Id. at 10, 15.
September 20, 2017, the day of the SJP event, Felder alleges
that Jones modified Felder's store designs without
consulting her. Id. at 11. Felder says she felt
extremely distressed, and begged Jones to stop her
modifications, to which Jones responded by calling for
National Harbor security. Id. Felder subsequently
called Fisher, who she says urged her to comply with
Jones's instructions. Id. Security personnel
arrived and removed Felder from the building. Id.
Later, one of Felder's coworkers told her that Jones had
recorded the episode and shared the video with other
employees. Id. at 12.
next day, on September 21, 2017, Felder returned to National
Harbor to meet with Jones. Id. At the meeting, Jones
terminated Felder's employment, explaining that
Felder's employment fell within a ninety-day probationary
period. Id. Felder refused to sign the separation
agreement that she says Jones presented her. Id.
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and received her
right to sue letter on June 9, 2018. Felder subsequently
filed suit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland on September 7, 2018 against National Harbor
and fifty unnamed defendants. National Harbor removed the
case to this Court on November 2, 2018 and, on November 9,
2018, moved to dismiss Felder's Complaint for failure to
state a claim. ECF No. 6. Felder filed her Opposition on
November 30, 2018, ECF No. 10, and National Harbor filed its
Reply on December 13, 2018. ECF No. 14. Felder moved for
leave to file a Surreply on January 29, 2019. ECF No. 17. The
Court granted Felder's motion, ECF No. 18, and accepted
her Surreply on March 5, 2019. ECF No. 19.
also filed a Motion to Remand on November 30, 2018. ECF No.
11. National Harbor filed its Opposition on 13, 2018. ECF No.
13. Felder filed her Reply on January 11, 2019. ECF No. 15.
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
has moved to remand on the grounds that (1) the Notice of
Removal is invalid because it contains a misspelling of her
name, (2) state courts have concurrent jurisdiction to hear
federal claims, and (3) absent removal, she will be required
to litigate her state and federal claims separately. National
Harbor contends that removal and subject matter jurisdiction
are proper. The Court agrees with National Harbor.
courts have supplemental jurisdiction over claims that are
derived from a “nucleus of operative fact” common
to additional claims over which the court has original
jurisdiction. Axel Johnson, Inc. v. Carroll Carolina Oil
Co., 145 F.3d 660, 662 (4th Cir. 1998); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The Court has original
jurisdiction over Felder's discrimination claims because
they arise under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Because all of Felder's claims
arise from incidents that allegedly occurred during her
period of employment at National Harbor, the Court may
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state
law claims in her Complaint. Further, National Harbor timely
removed the case to federal court on November 2, 2018, within
thirty days of receiving service of a copy of Felder's
Complaint and Summons on October 4, 2018.
arguments for remand lack merit. Her name is misspelled only
once in the Notice of Removal-on the civil cover sheet, not
the actual notice-and there is no indication that she did not
receive a copy of the Notice. See Khepera-Bey v.
Santander Consumer USA, Inc., Civil No. WDQ-11-1269,
2012 WL 1965444, at *6 (D. Md. May 30, 2012) (holding that a
misspelling alone did not invalidate service of process when
a defendant received actual notice and was not prejudiced).
And although Felder is correct that state courts may exercise
concurrent jurisdiction over federal claims, that alone does
not preclude removal to federal court if the conditions for
removal are met. See, e.g., Bahari v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Civil No. CCB-05-2085, 2005 WL
3505604, at *3 (D. Md. Dec. 16, 2005) (noting the Fourth
Circuit has long held concurrent jurisdiction does not bar
removal in the absence of express provisions by Congress).
the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) prescribes “liberal
pleading standards” that require a plaintiff to submit
only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing
that [she] is entitled to relief.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). The plaintiff's statement must contain facts
sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face” in order to survive a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570
(2007). The plausibility standard requires that the plaintiff
plead facts sufficient to show by “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although a court will accept the plaintiff's factual
allegations as true, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Id. Legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations or
“unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments” do not satisfy the plausibility pleading
standard. E. Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Associates Ltd.
P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). The
complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to
apprise a defendant of “what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (internal quotations and citations omitted).
Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) requires that a party
“alleging fraud or mistake” must plead
“with particularity the circumstances constituting
fraud or mistake.” The certain
“circumstances” of a fraud or mistake claim that
must be plead with particularity are the “time, place,
and contents of the false representations, as well as the
identity of the person making the misrepresentation and what
he obtained thereby.” SeeSpaulding v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,714 F.3d 769, 781 (4th Cir.
2013) (quoting Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River
Co.,176 F.3d 776, 784 (4th Cir. 1999) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Lack of compliance with the
heightened pleading standard for claims of ...