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Andrea Sealey v. Affiliated Computer Services

March 6, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court


1. Pro Se Plaintiff, Andrea Sealey, brings this action alleging that her former employer, Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. ("ACS"), and several of its employees violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(e) et seq. ("Title VII"). In addition to her Title VII claims, Sealey brings claims styled as: (1) obstruction of a criminal investigation; (2) retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant; (3) civil disorders; (4) conspiracy against rights; (5) deprivation of rights under color of law; (6) deprivation of relief benefits; (7) damage to religious property, obstructing persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs; (8) scheme or artifice to defraud; (9) attempt and conspiracy; (10) torture; intent to inflict severe mental pain or suffering upon another person within his or her custody or physical control; and (11) interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications. (Complaint, p. 6; Docket No. 1.) Presently before this Court are ACS's and Colleen Mahoney's motions to dismiss (Docket No. 6) and to strike*fn1 (Docket No. 33), and Sealey's motion seeking recusal (Docket No. 14). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted, their motion to strike is denied as moot, and Plaintiff's motion for recusal is denied.*fn2

2. Cognizant of the distinct disadvantage that pro se litigants face, this Court has read Sealey's submissions carefully and liberally, and has interpreted them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972); Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994).

3. Initially, this Court must address Sealey's motion for recusal. In support of her motion Sealey provides no facts or relevant argument. It consists largely of extraneous information and simply asks this Court that if it has a bias to recuse itself. (See Plaintiff's "Recusal Letter"; Docket No. 14.) But despite Sealey's hypothetical concerns, this Court remains impartial. Because there is no question that an objective, disinterested observer fully informed of the underlying facts, would [not] entertain significant doubt that justice would be done absent recusal, see United States v. Carlton, 534 F.3d 97, 100 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), and because this Court's impartiality has not "reasonably been questioned," Sealey's motion is denied. See 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) (emphasis added).

4. Substantively, Sealey contends that she was discriminated against by her former employer and her former co-workers at ACS. On her complaint form, she checked boxes alleging that her rights under Title VII were violated because of her race, sex, religion, and that she was sexually harassed. Supporting these claims, she alleges a desultory and bizarre set of facts, set forth below.*fn3

5. Although she never indicates when she was hired, it is clear that she was released on November 3, 2009. (Complaint, ¶ 20; Docket No. 1.) Sealey contends she was released as a result of a complaint that she lodged against her supervisor, Donna Barlow. (Id.) Her complaint, in turn, was the result of a "false write-up," or reprimand, composed by Barlow that she believes she did not deserve, and which contained "no specifics of anything [she] did wrong." (Id.) She also contends that she was retaliated against because she "was making complaints everyday to [the] New York State Attorney General Office and the United States Department of Justice due to a conspiracy to harass me that Affiliated Computer Services participated and played a leading role [in]." (Id., ¶ 21.) Sealey further believes that her race played a factor in Barlow's decision to issue the write-up. In an effort to support this claim, Sealey alleges that when she asked Barlow what she did wrong, Barlow stated that "during a break when the Caucasian trainer Stefanie [sic] Orifice was making a subtle joke calling me a stupid male[,] I responded with a joke." (Id., ¶ 22.)

6. At this point, the complaint takes a disturbing and more puzzling turn. Alluded to above, it appears that Sealey believes that ACS and her co-workers were involved in a conspiracy to harass her. In perpetrating this conspiracy, Sealey alleges that Defendants consistently directed "disgusting tongue, hole, and finger demonstrations" at her. (Id., ¶ 23.) Sealey then goes on to explain these "demonstrations," revealing an elaborate system that she has created to assign meaning to otherwise innocuous hand gestures, body parts, and colors. She states, "I am sure and believe [these are] the appropriate definition[s] of hand, finger, tongue, and hole demonstrations. This has never been admitted, but it was done to me every day." (Id., ¶ 23a.) A sampling of this system:

■ "The get one finger demonstration with index finger means] that I get in a claim for damages of one stranger child." (Id., ¶ 23d.)

■ "The see ya and hand signals mean a desire to false imprison or a desire to jail." (Id., ¶ 23f.)

■ "The ring finger means a teenaged child." (Id., ¶ 23h.) ■ "The little or baby finger means a baby or child up to twelve years." (Id., ¶ 23i.) ■ "The hand going sideways means justice will go either way." (Id., ¶ 23l.) ■ "The color pink means heterosexual woman with love for males." (Id., ¶ 23p.) ■ "The dark blue color mean[s] a straight gay woman with deep love for another woman. It also means a woman or male thinks like a male." (Id., ¶ 23v.) ■ "The buttocks or ass means the jurisdiction of Niagara County." (Id., ¶ 23mm.)

7. It appears Sealey believes that these "tongue, hole, and finger demonstrations" -- she defines 43 such "demonstrations" in total -- and other "jokes behind her back" accusing her of being gay or bisexual created a hostile work environment. Defendants move to dismiss her complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

8. Rule 12 (b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6). Federal pleading standards are generally not stringent: Rule 8 requires only a short and plain statement of a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (a)(2). But the plain statement must "possess enough heft to show that the pleader is entitled to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1966, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007).

9. When determining whether a complaint states a claim, the court must construe it liberally, accept all factual allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007). Legal conclusions, however, are not afforded the same presumption of truthfulness. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009) ("The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.").

10. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. at 1945 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Labels, conclusions, or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Facial plausibility exists when the facts alleged allow for a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct charged. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. The plausibility standard is not, however, a probability requirement: the pleading must show, not merely allege, that the pleader is entitled to ...

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