United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge
employment discrimination case concerns pro se Plaintiff
Adrian Ford's claimed adverse treatment on account of her
national origin. Pending before the Court are Defendants'
Motions to Dismiss. ECF Nos. 7, 9. The motions are fully
briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R.
105.6. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS
20, 2017, Plaintiff Adrian Ford began working for Defendant
Collington Life Care (“Collington”), a senior
living facility, as a Geriatric Nursing Assistant
(“GNA”). ECF No. 1-2 at 1. Ford worked under
the direct supervision of Defendant Emily Mayembe.
Id. Ford was one of two African American GNAs under
Mayembe's supervision, while all other employees,
including Mayembe, were of African descent. Id. Ford
asserts she was “treated less favorably” and
“given more work, ” including more difficult work
assignments, relative to the GNAs of African descent.
Id. Although Collington's policy was to maintain
a ten-to-one nurse to patient ratio, Ford's ratio
exceeded this policy. Id. When Ford approached
management to express her concerns, she was told that she
“could either perform the duties as assigned or leave
September 2, 2018, Ford filed a Charge of Discrimination with
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging national origin discrimination
and retaliation. See ECF No. 1-2. The EEOC then
issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter on September 20, 2018.
ECF No. 1 at 6. On December 19, 2018, Ford filed this action
against Collington and Mayembe, alleging national
origin-based discrimination, retaliation, and harassment in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Id. at 4-5. Defendants now move to dismiss the
Complaint in its entirety, arguing Ford has failed to state a
claim for relief.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The
Court accepts “the well-pled allegations of the
complaint as true, ” and construes all facts and
reasonable inferences most favorably to the plaintiff.
Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir.
1997). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's
factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all
the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful
in fact).” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted).
se litigant's complaint must be construed liberally to
allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980);
Eccleston v. Prince George's Cty., No. DKC
15-3871, 2017 WL 430384, at *1 (D. Md. Feb. 1, 2017)
(“Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to
a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by
lawyers.”) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Nonetheless, liberal construction does
not mean that a court must ignore a clear failure in the
pleadings to allege facts which set forth a cognizable claim.
See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d
387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Nor should the court rewrite a
complaint to ensure that it survives a motion to dismiss.
See Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985).
brings Title VII claims against Mayembe individually and in
her capacity as Ford's supervisor. Mayembe moves to
dismiss the Complaint against her solely on the ground that
she is not a proper defendant under Title VII. It is
well-settled law that “supervisors are not liable in
their individual capacities for Title VII violations.”
Lissau v. S. Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180
(4th Cir. 1998); see also Lewis v. Balt. City Bd. of Sch.
Comm'rs, 187 F.Supp.3d 588, 594 (D. Md. 2016).
Accordingly, the Court dismisses with prejudice Ford's
claims against Mayembe.
contends that Ford's national origin-based
discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation
claims fail because Ford fails to plead facts establishing a
prima facie case. Although Collington is correct that Ford
must prove at trial her prima facie case as first articulated
in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
(1973), the prima facie case “is an evidentiary
standard, not a pleading requirement.” Swierkiewicz
v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 510 (2002). Put more
precisely, a plaintiff need not plead a prima facie case to
survive a motion to dismiss. See Id. at 515;
McCleary-Evans v. Md. Dep't of Transp., State Highway
Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 584-85 (4th Cir. 2015). Rather,
the complaint must allege facts that “raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Coleman v. Md.
Ct. App., 626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Nevertheless, the
elements of a prima facie case provide helpful guidance when
reviewing “the adequacy of the allegations.”
Niner v. Garrett Cty. Pub. Works, No. ELH-17-2948,
2018 WL 3869748, at *16 (D. Md. Aug. 15, 2018). With this
standard in mind, the Court considers each claim separately.
VII makes it unlawful “to discriminate against any
individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such
individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. Workplace
discrimination typically involves either disparate treatment
or a hostile work environment. Ford maintains that she was
subject to both forms of discrimination. See ECF No.
1 at 5.