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Harris v. Norwood School

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

November 15, 2019

MONIQUE HARRIS, Plaintiff
v.
NORWOOD SCHOOL, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles B. Day, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (“Defendants' Motion”). ECF No. 13. The Court has reviewed Defendants' Motion, the opposition thereto, and Defendants' Reply.[1] No. hearing is deemed necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion.

         I. Factual Background

         The gist of Plaintiff's claims arise from her employment with Norwood School which began in July 2012. Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff was hired as a Human Resources Payroll assistant. Id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that after she informed Defendants Matthew Gould and William Teachum that she had received an internship offer, she was asked to post an advertisement for a position as Human Resources Manager. Id. at ¶ 15-16. According to Plaintiff, she was asked to post the advertisement despite telling Defendants that she was willing to “continue working in Human Resources . . .” Id. Plaintiff then alleges that following the posting of the advertisement, Defendants hired a Caucasian employee to serve as the Human Resources Manager “to perform the exact duties as those performed by [Plaintiff], but was compensated at [a] rate approximately 30% more than [Plaintiff].” Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff alleges she was:

subjected to disparate treatment based on race (African-American/Black) when employer hired an employee (Caucasian) to perform the same and/or similar duties of her position for approximately $18, 000.00 more in salary than it offered plaintiff when she was hired to perform the same and/or similar duties.

Id. at ¶ 2. Plaintiff further alleges that the new employee was less qualified for the position than Plaintiff because the new employee had minimal Human Resources experience and had returned “to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years.” Id. at ¶ 21-23.

         After filing a claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the EEOC issued Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter dated February 21, 2019. ECF No. 1- 1. On June 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed the Complaint to obtain relief from “employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (‘Title VII'), Maryland Human Relations Law, MD Code, Art. 49B, §§ 1 et seq.[2] And Montgomery County Human Relations Act, (Montgomery Co. Code §§ 27-1 et seq.).” Id. at ¶ 1.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Valencia v. Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md. Dec. 13, 2012). This rule's purpose “is to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Id. (quoting Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006)). In doing so, the Court must keep in mind the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), when considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim for relief, ” as “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. See Valencia, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (discussing the standards of Iqbal and Twombly.).

         “A claim has facial plausibility 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. A court ruling on a motion to dismiss generally “must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, ” however, a court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 554); See also Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (“[I]n evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff in weighing the legal sufficiency of the complaint.”).

         “A court may dismiss a complaint on statute of limitations grounds if the time bar is apparent on the face of the complaint.” Ott v. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corr. Servs., 909 F.3d 655, 658 (4th Cir. 2019) (citing Dean v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 395 F.3d 471, 474 (4th Cir. 2005)).

         III. Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's claim under Title VII is not time barred because Plaintiff filed suit within 90 days after receipt of the EEOC's right-to-sue letter.

         Defendants aver that Plaintiff's claim of discrimination under Title VII is time barred because Plaintiff failed to file her Complaint within 90 days after the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter. Defs.' Mem. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. 3-5, ECF No. 13-1. Plaintiff contends her claims are not time barred because the envelope in which the right-to-sue letter was sent, was postmarked on March 5, 2019, which gives her 90 days from March 5, 2019 instead ...


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